There’s no doubt that a family holiday with your children can be an incredible experience and an opportunity to create magical memories. But there are also obstacles to overcome when travelling as a family. As soon as you become a parent, your life changes, and you assume responsibility for protecting that child at all costs. When it comes to booking a break, spontaneity often goes out of the window. With children in tow, you might not be able to roam free as you once did, but that doesn’t mean that planning family trips has to be stressful. Here’s the ultimate guide to planning and organising a stress-free family holiday.
Disclosure: This is a partnered post
Planning is a parent’s secret weapon when it comes to taking a well-earned break and eliminating the stress of jetting off and enjoying some downtime. If you plan in advance, you can draw up a rough itinerary, address any potential concerns and make sure you have everything you need for your holiday to run smoothly.
location, location, location
Start by thinking about the location for your family holiday very carefully.
- How do you want to spend your time?
- How far do you want to travel?
- What kinds of amenities and facilities are you looking for?
Travel time is a factor for many parents. The thought of long-haul flights may be too daunting for some, and in this case, it might be best to stick to a shorter journey. If you are travelling a long way, you may find that travelling business class or booking a night flight works best, as your children should be tired, and they might sleep better.
what type of holiday?
As well as the flight time, take into consideration what type of holiday you want. What do you want to do when you reach your destination? Are you looking to chill out by the pool, hit the beach, visit attractions or see the sights in the city? Once you know what you want to do, and how long you want to spend on a plane, you can narrow down your options.
If you have a resort, a city or a country in mind, you can then explore hotels, apartments, villas or private home rentals. Read reviews and think about which type of accommodation would suit you best. If you have toddlers or older children, for example, you might want to look for a resort that has a kids club or an entertainment programme with shallow pools and safe, sheltered beaches for children. Before you make a decision, take a look at feedback and comments left by other families. Reading reviews from parents can give you an insight into what the facilities are like and what you can expect.
all the little extras
Once you have a destination in mind, you can think about adding extras to make the journey easier and eliminate any last-minute panics.
- Book a taxi or arrange for somebody to give you a lift to the airport;
- Organise car hire online so that you can just pick up the keys when you land; and
- Add bags before you travel if luggage is not included in the package price.
It’s also wise to look at options, such as in-flight meals, if you’re taking a long flight and to book seats together if you haven’t already been assigned seats. If you have any special requests, for example, your child has a food allergy, communicate with the airline and the hotel in advance.
SHOPPING & PACKING TIPS
Every parent will know that travelling with children involves taking a lot of stuff. Gone are the days of throwing a few things in an overnight bag for a last-minute weekend getaway. Packing for kids is a logistical operation, which involves careful preparation. The best way to tackle this job is to get started early.
make a shopping list
A few weeks before you go away, make a shopping list of everything you need to buy or pick up. Work your way through the shopping list and the start the job of washing clothes, folding and packing.
get all your medications
If you, your child or your partner takes medication, give yourself plenty of time to order supplies if you are due to run out while you’re away. If you’re travelling with a baby, and there’s a risk of teething troubles, make sure you have remedies and toys with you. You can use baby teethers to soothe gums during your flight and pack medication in your hand luggage to relieve pain.
take the important stuff onboard
It’s also wise to put a first aid kit together and carry it with you on board. This should contain plasters and bandages, pain relief medication, antiseptic cream or wipes, adhesive tape and sterile dressings. Fill your child’s changing bag with nappies, vests, wipes and plane toys to keep them occupied during the journey. If your child has a favourite teddy or a blanket they can’t sleep without, double-check the bag before you leave to make sure you have it with you.
Make a packing list
Start with items you won’t need in the days leading up to your departure date. If you’re going from cold climates to sunshine, for example, you can pack items like shorts, t-shirts and swimwear, sun lotion, swimming goggles and beach towels. As you get closer, add essentials like underwear and make sure you’ve got the right plugs for your destination.
If you struggle to fit everything in your case, and you tend to go a bit crazy and pack too much every time you go away, it can be helpful to make a list. It’s also a great idea to plan your outfits before you go and to design a capsule holiday wardrobe. This will enable you to look and feel good without worrying about excess baggage charges.
DRAWING UP AN ITINERARY
Many families love to chill out and spend a couple of weeks soaking up the sun and relaxing. If the only choice you’re planning to make each day is deciding whether to go to the beach or the pool, you don’t need to plan an itinerary. If, however, you’re thinking about going out for the day, you’re interested in excursions, or you’d like to find out more about local attractions, it’s a good idea to have a rough plan. This will help you make the most of your time and make sure you don’t miss out on tours or activities you’re eager to book.
You may be able to save by booking online. Some attractions close on certain days of the week, so check opening times, and see if you have to book a ticket in advance. It’s well worth spending a few moments checking ratings and reviews on the Internet before you reserve tickets for a theme park, museum, water park or boat trip.
PREPARE YOUR KIDS FOR THE ADVENTURE AHEAD
If you have young children, or your kids haven’t travelled much, the prospect of going on holiday is probably very exciting, but also a little scary. Planes are enormous and noisy, and children will be coming into contact with hundreds of unfamiliar faces. If your children are a bit anxious, or they have lots of questions, it’s wise to prepare them before you set off for the airport.
Read books about going to the airport and getting on a plane, watch TV programmes about families going on holiday and talk to your kids about what they can expect when the time comes to fly away. Reassure your children about safety and highlight the positives. Make the transit part of your family holiday like an adventure, and don’t show them that you’re scared or worried if you’re an anxious passenger yourself.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE
Nothing is more important when planning a seamless, stress-free family holiday than checking your travel insurance. Before you depart, make sure your policy is in date and read the small print. If your policy is due for renewal, or you’ve welcomed new members to the family since you took out insurance, call your provider, explore different options and consider switching if you can find a better deal.
If you’re travelling with kids, it’s best to ensure you have a comprehensive policy, which covers lost luggage, theft, cancellations and medical expenses. If you don’t already have insurance, use an Internet comparison site to look for the best offers. Take a copy of your policy with you and leave details of your flights and accommodation with family members or close friends.
There’s nothing like going on a family holiday, but the logistics of planning and getting from A to B can be stressful. If you’re thinking of jetting off, or you’re eager to book a break in the coming weeks, it’s wise to get organised and to work through a list of jobs before you leave. This will ensure you have a wonderful and stress-free holiday with your family, creating a lifetime of memories together.