Planning a family holiday can be both an exciting time, and a frustrating one. We all want that perfect holiday with the perfect itinerary – it’s something we feel we deserve for working so hard!
I have taken my kids everywhere, from New Zealand to Koh Samui and I know a thing or two about travelling. So, as a Mum and a self-confessed travel addict I decided to combine the two and become a travel guru, searching the world for the best travel options for those with kids.
There are plenty of websites and blogs that will give you the basic tips for travelling with little ones, but, based on my personal travel experiences, here are my top tips for planning a holiday with your rug rats:
Where to go?
This really depends on the ages of your children. Are they toddlers, or teens, or in between? You are not going to drag a three year old to China and expect them to walk the Great Wall with you; that would be a nightmare holiday, and nothing short of exhausting. Pick a destination that is going to suit your family. Theme Park holidays suit most ages, as there is something for everyone. Don’t go somewhere where lying on the beach is going to bore the tweens. If they’re interested in adventure, then an African safari may be a better choice.
Is a Kids Club important to you? Make sure you check what age your child can access the Club. Some start from the age of two, but the majority start from age four.
Bedding: Double-check all of the details about each hotel including the size of the rooms, what size beds and if there is partitioning for the children’s sleeping areas – simply call the hotel to ask or look around their website. Find out what floor the room is on and where in the hotel the rooms are located in relation to pools, restaurants etc. These things matter!
Are you after a holiday immediately (um, yes, who isn’t!?!) but don’t have the cash available right now? Consider looking at a holiday loan, there are different options available to you – personal loans, credit cards or even redrawing on your home loan. If you take out a loan for your trip you can pay for everything up-front and then start paying off the holiday bit by bit.
To maximize the use of your loan and reduce the interest payable, get pre-approval for your loan amount as soon as you are aware of the dates you are looking to travel. From there, once flights are booked, you can complete the documentation and quickly pay for your flights. Then, depending on the terms and conditions of your loan you could also look to redraw off the loan for your holiday.
Travel insurance is of the utmost importance when planning a holiday, especially with children. If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford a holiday!
It’s a minefield, with dozens of different insurances on the market, so you really need to know what you are covered for. If you don’t it could leave you under-insured and out of pocket.
Don’t just opt for the cheapest quote – it may not suit your needs. Ask your travel agent who they recommend, after all, agents deal with insurance policies every day and can help with the right one for your family’s needs.
Always take out a policy as soon as you pay any money towards a holiday, even if it’s only a small deposit. That way you are covered immediately should any unforeseen circumstances arise.
I always recommend that you pay the extra to reduce your excess to $0. Some companies charge as little as $25 for excess buyout. That way if you have a claim, you will be paid all of your out of pocket expenses. Know that if you don’t take this out, the excess is payable for each claim you make. i.e one claim for medical, one claim for a lost camera.
This is the part that most people don’t enjoy. Get out those suitcases at least two weeks before you travel. How many times have you thought in your head – oh I must remember to take that. Well don’t just think it, as soon as something pops into your mind, grab it and put it straight into the awaiting case. You know then that it’s packed and you won’t arrive at your destination annoyed that you forgot something.
Don’t forget to pack a back-up credit card – just in case. Murphy’s Law tells us that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, so be prepared with a Plan B.
What to take
For those with young children, it’s always best to make sure you have a change of clothes for them in your carry-on luggage, though, don’t forget about yourself. Always take a spare shirt/blouse for those mishaps that can happen on the plane – you know those kidlets are sure to spill something on you at some point!
Strollers/prams – these can be tedious things to carry around. There are plenty of destinations which hire out baby equipment covering everything from prams, toys, high chairs, portacots and everything in between. You can often have them delivered to your hotel in time for your arrival. Leave your stuff at home and save your sanity – you have enough to carry through airports!
Airlines don’t always schedule flights at the best time of the day – if you are flying when it’s the children’s sleep time, dress them in their pyjamas before boarding. It will make it easier to put them off to sleep if they are enjoy the comfort of normal bed clothes. I even had my youngest in her sleeping bag.
I always split clothes between suitcases – this way if one of your suitcases goes missing, you will have a set of clothes for everyone – And not just end up with Dad’s luggage and only his attire!
If you’re arriving early in the morning don’t forget that you can’t normally check into a hotel until around 2pm. So, be sure that if you are going to a beach destination you take bathers/goggles in your carry on luggage, that way, while you are waiting for your room, you can entertain yourselves – pool side.
Flying out late? Be sure that late checkout is added to your booking. With little ones, you may be able to sneak in a sleep before heading to the airport. It’s also handy to be able to arrange and pack your suitcases with those last minute purchases you have made that day.
Are you going to a country where you don’t think your fussy eater will like the cuisine? I always take a few bowls with lids, packs of cereal and a jar of Vegemite. That way you will immediately have something on hand to feed those hungry mouths! Make sure to check the customs website so that you don’t pack anything that may be banned in your destination. I even take a couple of plastic cups and their drink bottles. The familiarity of home is sure to be a winner.
Before you go
Cancel any newspapers and/or regular deliveries that you have.
Call the bank to let them know you will be away – you will reduce the risk of the bank sighting foreign transactions on your account and cancelling your cards. If they know you are overseas, then they will expect to see spending elsewhere.
Register your travel with www.smartraveller.gov.au
While you are away
ENJOY every moment – you are on holidays making memories with the family! What could be better?
Do you have any tried and tested tips to add to this list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This post was written in collaboration with our friends at People’s Choice Credit Union.