How to survive a family holiday
Many parents panic about how to travel with their kids and how to survive when things don’t go quite to plan. Here are some tips to ensure your next family holiday runs smoothly.
1. Work out what sort of trip you want
Every family is unique, and children at different ages and stages have specific needs and wants. However we often talk about “now and then” trips – things to do before your kids get to a certain age and things that you should wait for, until they are old enough. The other thing to remember is: it’s your holiday too – not just your kids’ – so it pays to have something for everyone.
2. Be positive
Think positively rather than negatively. Family holidays can and should be a joy. It’s a really special time for you to spend with your kids – or nephews/nieces, godchildren, grandchildren, family friends. They grow up so quickly and will be off on their own adventures before you know it. Embrace it, and your inner child, and all will be well.
3. How do I survive a long plane flight?
This is the question I am asked most often. The thought of having to cope with a long-haul flight is the reason why many parents won’t travel with their kids at all. The best thing you can do to reduce the stress of air travel is to change your attitude. Think like your kids, for whom flying and all that’s associated with it – from soaring above the clouds to meals in trays – is a fascinating adventure. It might be a little uncomfortable but it doesn’t last forever either.
4. Barter system
Trade off something for the kids with something you want to do. Kids will rarely voluntarily say “Yes I’d like to go to that museum/sight/landmark” if they think the alternative is swimming in the pool. But use the pool as a carrot and you might get to see that exhibition after all.
5. Find hands-on activities
Kids love to do rather than just see. Try to tap into the culture of the place you’re in through hands-on activities. That could be a boomerang-throwing lesson at Uluru or a pizza-making class in Rome. Whatever it is, they’ll learn and retain more once they’ve done it themselves.
6. Find a good guide
I’m not talking books here. Trust me, your kids won’t want to listen to you reading out of a guidebook. They’ll just switch off. Find a really good, entertaining knowledgeable and engaging guide who can bring the place you’re in – and its history, culture and stories – to life. It’s always worth the cost.
7. Get the accommodation right
Make sure you book appropriate accommodation for your family’s needs. If you have a baby or toddler who needs to sleep during the day you need a hotel room or apartment that has enough space for you to do that and be comfortable yourself. If you’re travelling in a multi-generational group or with another family, don’t skimp. As much as you want to be together you need space to be apart too.
8. Go self-contained
Consider self contained apartments as well as hotels; often you’ll have much more space, and can prepare a few meals there, making your trip more affordable.
9. Ask the doc
Staying healthy when you’re away starts with planning well before you go. The first thing to do is see a doctor about what sort of vaccinations are recommended for your destination. You should start thinking about this about eight weeks prior to departure in case you need a course of vaccinations. Then follow the doctor’s advice on everything from drinking water to foods to avoid to environmental hazards. Always travel with a basic first aid kit. If you’re travelling overseas don’t forget to check what medical costs are covered by your travel insurance.
10. Today’s disaster is tomorrow’s laughter
Remember that most travel disasters become fodder for hilarious stories in future years.