As the year comes to a close, many of us are once again planning our family getaways, and the truth is that while family holidays are always a lot of fun, travelling with kids isn’t the easiest thing to do. This holds true whether you’re travelling abroad or exploring new parts of your home country.
So if you want to minimise the little hiccups along the way and keep things running as smoothly as possible, here are a few tips for planning ahead and making sure your family holiday will be memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Manage your expectations
The first step when planning a family holiday with kids is to manage everyone’s expectations, including your own. Discussing your plans as a family ahead of time will help you avoid undue stress or disappointments when reality inevitably doesn’t meet expectations.
There’s no such thing as the “perfect” holiday and kids are unlikely to fully appreciate a fancy hotel or traditional sightseeing activities. They’re also bound to get tired and complain from time-to-time, so be prepared for these moments and just try to go with the flow.
2. Avoid over scheduling
Although it’s a good idea to plan some activities in advance and know where you’ll be staying and eating out, trying to fit too many things into one day is a sure recipe for tired and cranky kids.
Instead, make a list of the things you’d most like to do and then schedule just one activity each day, leaving plenty of time for unstructured play and naps in-between. Having just one activity planned can also help build anticipation and make each event more enjoyable.
3. Book whatever you can in advance
The best way to avoid the hassle of waiting in long lines or having to look around for things is to book as much as possible in advance, from car rentals and accommodation to amusement parks and family-friendly restaurants.
Most hotels and resorts also provide transportation services to and from the airport and other major attractions, which will help you avoid the stress of navigating unfamiliar streets and hectic traffic.
4. Look for family-friendly accommodation
Where you stay is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make. Staying at a family-friendly hotel or resort that caters to kids and even offers childcare services and kids clubs will make the whole trip a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved.
If you’re not sure whether a specific resort is family-friendly, check their website to see if kids and families are specifically mentioned and look for reviews on sites like Trip Advisor to see what other parents have to say about their experience there.
5. Travel light by renting equipment
Lugging around your own car seats, crib, skis or whatever else you may need while also trying to keep track of excited and energetic kids can quickly become exhausting. So if you want to make things easier on yourself, consider renting equipment rather than bringing your own.
Most family-friendly resorts have these items on hand anyways, and you won’t have to worry about lost and damaged equipment or excess baggage fees either.
6. Bring travel snacks and toys
If you have a long flight or drive ahead of you, try to bring some lightweight toys or mini travel games that will keep kids occupied along the way. Serving snacks like peanuts and raisins, granola bars or string cheese will not only keep hunger at bay but also give kids something to do.
Giving older kids small tasks like asking them to take notes or check for the right gate or a specific sign is another great way to help them feel involved in the trip and keep them happy and occupied.
7. Involve kids in the decision-making
If your kids are already a bit older, it can be fun to involve them a bit in the decision making process and ask them what they’d like to do. Getting kids involved in researching different activities or destinations will not only keep them excited and interested, but can also be a learning experience.
Start by narrowing down some activities you think they’d be interested in and then letting them choose two or three different options. You could also get them informational books about the country or city you’ll be visiting to get them inspired and think of specific activities or outings.