The best part about traveling with family is that apart from bonding and catching up in a different environment, it’s a superb way to explore the world and open up to learning together. Family holidays also present good opportunities to make decisions where everyone’s opinion is respected. Again, traveling together offers the parents the luxury of having fun without worrying about what could be happening back home. But, as is with many all-inclusive decision-making-models, planning a family vacation can leave one feeling depressed and fatigued to the point that they consider curling back under the duvet and dreaming off to their destination! To avoid such, Jovago.com, an online hotel booking site advises parents to plan in time, and resist the temptation of playing Super/man/woman. “Depending on the age of your children, assign duties and involve them in listing activities or places they would like to engage in or go to” says Lillian Gaitho Head of PR for the Jovago. Involving the whole party allows you to start off on a uniform pace and expectations. Below are a few more tips to consider:
Your Budget vs Your Dream
Holidays and family vacations are known to shoot holes through purses and pockets. This is no fable. You however can avoid falling into this by planning and saving ahead of time. This will allow you enough time to balance your ledger books accordingly. Planning ahead of time will also give you time to ask around for packages and deals. Try a few ideas, consider a few places. Do not skip over a favorite destination because it’s known to be a bit over your budget. Who knows you might be lucky to catch them smack on their season discounts, or they might have special rates for that particular room. One more important issue, find out what your package offers; are all ‘holiday activities’ covered in the cost? There is no fun in taking kids to a windsurfing location if all they do is watch others have the fun.
Home-and-Away; Hotel Matters
Similar to when traveling alone, but a little more complex; check if the hotel offers baby cots for your 8-month old. Do they have a tuck shop just in case you need extra supplies of milk and diapers? How about laundry? Unless you plan to carry a whole closet, stacking up soiled laundry for a six and four old will not add any refreshing moments on your travel diaries. Another important aspect of your stay is ascertain whether the hotel has child minders/club who will allow you to shift your eyes to the horizons and sunset without worrying about your tot slipping off the rocks or wading off to test the pool’s deep edge. On the same note, it’s important that the hotel amenities are not strictly kid-focused, but rather friendly and well integrated to accommodate both adults and children. Activities such as surfing, beach volleyball, fishing, kayaking and boat rides will be perfect family activities on a beach resort. Finally, check on forgettable bits such as hotel-destination shuttling service, safety measures for family stays e.g.adjoining doors to double rooms, balconies, corridors etc.
A Family that Plans Together…
This could be harder than financing the vacation! And especially if your twelve year old has already sketched bold dotted lines under her/his “entitlements and rights”. You can easily avoid sulking and feuds by involving both your 3 year old and his thirteen old sister in laying out the itinerary. Make sure every member of the family has something to look forward to by letting them chose their favorite activity; that to them will be the highlight of the holiday. Make it the duty of the owner of activity to find ways of involving the rest of the team so that every member ends up participating in the other’s most memorable holiday activity. It’s also important that you make the holiday a learning experience for the kids by incorporating either fun school activities or featured topics like climbing a mountain they have been learning about, or taking part in foreign culture they may have studied or will study in feature.
Packing for Travel
This may sound easy, until you have to rummage through a Disney-world of toys for the plane tickets at the airport lounge. Be safe and pack separately; older children can share a suitcase while you share your travel case with your spouse and the one looking forward to their 2nd birthday. It will also be easier to move around for different experiences if the older children carry their own backpacks for personal effects such as water bottles, head phone, cameras, iPad and such. This is also good time to exercise the ideals of Young Responsible Adults you have been instilling in them all along.
A final Checklist
Assuming you followed my guideline from the very first paragraph, you must by now be having all your immunization cards stamped, your visa ready and your plane reservation done. But, who knows-counter checking will just add to your confidence and faith in a happy holiday ahead! Ensure your travel insurance is comprehensive, that your credit cards have no issue and that your destination accepts your ATM card. Finally, and just for matters of caution ensure that your home is under good watch while away. We do not anticipate a burglary, but neither can we rule out a stray character peeping though your windows, it’s creepy. It’s always good to have a close relation or friend aware of your whereabouts.