Why take a family holiday?
Family holidays are a great opportunity for your family to have fun and share some quality time together, creating a lifetime of happy memories. It can vary from a simple camping trip, to a complex, round-the-world itinerary, and anything in between. Although each family’s tastes and budget vary, a successful family holiday, includes the following components:
Get the kids involved in the holiday planning:
When planning a family holiday, get your children interested from the outset, by asking what they would like to see, do and experience. Where would they like to visit? Kids can be shown books, photos, foreign currency, travel tv shows, videos and maps to get them excited, and you could try cooking some of the local dishes with your kids. Teach them some new words in a different language to use when they visit a foreign country.
Choosing a suitable destination:
Maybe choose a destination that is relevant to your kids. For example, they may be studying Japanese, so visiting Japan might be of interest to them. My daughter studied the history of Pompeii, so when we visited the Pompeii ruins last year, she was so engrossed in what the tour guide was telling us. Kids absorb and retain new sights, sounds, tastes and experiences like sponges, being stimulated with a sense of wonder and amazement, and this should be encouraged.
Get your little ones a small case on wheels, to carry a few treats, books and toys. Give your teenagers the opportunity to pack his or her own bags, following a packing list, and keeping within weight restrictions. It will teach them accountability, responsibility and they’ll feel more independent.
Pack comfortable mix-n-match clothing, suitable for the climate you are travelling to, that are quick drying and don’t require ironing. If you or your kids love a particular food product, pack that, plus moist towelettes, sunscreen, insect repellent, a first-aid kit, medications, lip balm and a flat-folding multiple peg holder for drying smaller washed items.
Keep the kids engaged during the holiday:
Whilst you are away, get your children involved by allowing them capture photos and videos on their own devices and cameras. Allow the kids to research places of interest or where to eat, write and send postcards to family and friends at home, and colour in travel-themed colouring books. Encourage them to eat some of the local cuisine, by dining at local restaurants and exploring local markets.
As a holiday project, get them to write a travel journal or create a holiday scrapbook, by collecting postcards, drawing what they have seen, experienced and eaten, and write down some new foreign words that they have learned. Allow them to buy a souvenir of their trip, such as a local handmade toy, magnet, flag, badge or costume. Let them keep ticket stubs, maps, coins and record your family holiday through their eyes, at their respective ages. These will make fantastic keepsakes, and they’ll be great to share with teachers, classmates and other family members once they get home.
Tips & tricks when travelling with kids:
Your children’s ages at the time of travel, creates its own challenges. For babies, should you bring numerous supplies of nappies, formula, bottles, a cot, pram, car seat, etc., or should you buy or hire them at your destination? Toddlers need to be toilet trained to be allowed in most supervised kids’ clubs. For younger kids, bringing their favourite soft toy and blanket may comfort them. For tweens & teens, bringing along their smartphones and gadgets, pre-loaded with lots of games, music and movies, will keep them entertained for hours during long journeys, and they can still connect to their friends whilst they are away.
If you can afford to, fly with a full-service airline, especially on longer flights, that offers kids’ meals (served first); inflight entertainment providing movies, tv shows & video games; and kids colouring packs, to keep them occupied. Full service airlines also provide blankets, headphones and a pillow. You might consider bringing carry-on luggage which includes colouring books and pencils, their favourite smaller toys, and vacuum sealed snacks. If your kids have sensitive ears, a dummy or lollies to suck on during take-off and landing might be an idea, and invest in an inexpensive self-inflating neck pillow and eye patch for each passenger.
Airlines refer to babies between 0 – 23 months of age as “infants”. If infants are sharing a seat with their parent, or are in a bassinet onboard, they are charged 10% of an adult airfare. Kids aged between 2-11yrs, are charged a “child’s airfare”, being 75% of an adult’s airfare, and get their own seat. Airlines consider children 12yrs and over to be “adults”, and they pay full adult prices. Passenger ages are relevant to the outbound flight date in most cases.
Choosing family-friendly accommodation:
Choose family-friendly resorts and hotels that offer family rooms, interconnecting rooms or self-contained apartments. Do you want centrally located hotels, or would you prefer to be further out? Maybe choose ‘themed’ places to stay, adding to the excitement, such as a villa in Lyon, a farmstay in Tuscany or an igloo in Scandinavia.
Do you want to be on the ground floor, where your children could get access to the pool, or on a higher floor, where they could climb a balcony railing? Consider which is the safest option for your family. Many properties also offer playgrounds, kids’ clubs, kids’ pools, babysitting services, cots, high chairs, rollaway beds, children’s menus and kids’ meal plans.
Consider a family holiday onboard a cruise ship:
One of the best value-for-money family holidays is a cruise. Most cruise lines cater for families and offer various onboard facilities, suitable for all kids’ age groups, such as kids clubs, kids pools, cinemas, arcades, mini golf and more. Each family member can do as much or as little as they like, they unpack once and wake up every other day in a different destination, and all without the stress about transportation, accommodation or meals, as the cruise fares are inclusive of these.
Remember to have ‘a holiday’:
Think about the pace of your holiday, keeping in mind your kids’ ages, capabilities and usual routines. Kids like to take their time and explore. Include activities that will release some of their energy, but be sure to strike a balance between sightseeing days, and days where there are no timetables or pre-planned activities. Maybe try to get out and about in the morning, and relax during the afternoon, or allow the occasional sleep-in, so you’re all not exhausted after your supposed ‘holiday’. Depending on the kids’ ages and where you’re visiting, you could let them to stay back in the hotel whilst you go out exploring further. This gives them (and you) the opportunity to have a bit more of ‘me time’.
Travelling with kids is lots of fun, educational and positive. Stepping out of your comfort zone, being open-minded and experiencing new cultures together as a family, will encourage your kids to grow up to be more tolerant, compassionate, empathetic, conscientious, well-rounded and respectful adults.