Photo © Catcher In My Eye
We’ve all heard stories of nightmare family holidays, but with a bit of forethought and preparation, your trip need not be stressful.
Here are some tips for a safe an enjoyable trip when travelling with children.
Plan for a Slower Pace. As you’ll know from other areas of your life, kids have a way of adding a level of friction to many things that you try and do. Children make daily life interesting, surprising and enlivened in many ways, but even the most fulfilled parent has to concede that things get done much more slowly when you have kids.
Plan for extra days just “doing nothing”, giving kids the chance to just play in the hotel, recouperate and adjust to their new surroundings. Your childrens’ tolerance for travel stress and long hours on the move is probably lower than yours, so take this into account when you plan your trip.
Research Childcare Options Carefully Beforehand. The thought of leaving your kids in childcare while you go off exploring can be a tempting one. But you really need to research your options here. Many hotel childcare schemes simply sit your kids in front of a TV all day, which could be far from ideal. Also, childcare standards could be very different, depending on the country you’re visiting – so do your due diligence beforehand.
Agree on Meeting Places In Case Someone Gets Lost. In new environments, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the adventure and excitement of it all. But the ultimate travel nightmare is losing track of the whereabouts of one of your children abroad. In every new environment, agree on a meeting place for family members to reconvene if you get separated.
Do this anywhere you’ll be for a number of hours – airports, hotels, central city locations. If your children can use them, a cheap phone (possibly with a local sim card) with your number programmed in can be invaluable.
Take Turns With The Kids If You’re a Couple. You may have envisaged a family holiday where you do everything together as a family. That’s a great way to spend the majority of your time, but you might find that occasionally splitting up and alternating stewardship of the kids has its benefits. Let one parent go off and do something they really want to do, while the other takes the kids for the day.
Even just two or three days spent like this can really maximise your family’s overall experience of the trip – that way each parent gets some valuable alone time, and you’re all much more able to enjoy the time you do spend together.
Plan in Advance. This is perhaps the most important piece of advice. Good preparation can make or break your trip with kids in tow. Make sure you’ve found and planned enough activities and jaunts that the children can enjoy, but also, figure out how to keep them entertained close by to where you’re staying.
That means booking the right kind of hotel with amenities like a pool, but also seeking out suitable nearby locations. It’s amazing what half an hour in the park or trotting around interesting shops can do for your kids’ mood and tolerance for the rest of the things you want to do as adults.
Plan well, and you’ll set yourself up for a fantastic family trip, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the precious time with your children.
Scott Steven Manning is a contributor to Life Without Barriers, a foster care agency based in Australia. Scott is also a keen runner, yoga amateur and part-time traveller.