By Katerina Tiapula
Planning is a necessary part of your much needed family vacation. You want to enjoy your break, and it is essential that your family enjoy and relax as well. Stress and frustration can be alleviated through careful planning done well in advance for all parts of the trip.
Bear in mind that you cannot possibly plan for everything, so make sure everyone realizes that flexibility is important. Here are a few pointers to help out:
Plan the trip together in advance
Get everyone’s feedback and opinions. It can be difficult to find something that fits everyone’s idea of an ideal vacation. However, it is not too hard to plan activities and stops that have something for each person in your family. When you begin talking, give suggestions, options and leave plenty of room for changes. Don’t forget to plan some relaxing time for just you and your spouse to spend together.
Find a family appropriate destination
Whether it is a short or long vacation, ensure that there is something of interest for all the members of the family. If the kids love the beach and you love shopping, find a happy medium.
Efficient packing is essential
Pack only what you need and dress for comfort. Allow the children to help pack and even decide on a few things to bring. This will alleviate any problems about items that aren’t packed, and they will also know what is in the bag.
Flying, driving or busing your way:
Transportation to and from your holiday spot is a big part of the trip. It can dictate how the vacation is experienced. However you are traveling; bring small toys and books to keep the children occupied. Don’t overload yourself with these items though. With security the way it is now, be very selective about what you bring along. Food is not allowed. Beauty products should be checked through and even baby food items can be limited. Check with the airline or travel agent a week or so before traveling. A change of clothing for the children and an extra shirt for the adults is recommended.
With small children, try to book the most direct route to your vacation spot as possible or give yourself time between to get some rest. You surely don’t want to manage changing flights or trains at night with toddlers and an infant in arms. If it is unavoidable, ensure that there is enough time to manage the change with children and arrange for assistance. Ask for the bulk head seats; this will give them more space to stretch out and even play if they want without disturbing others.
Bus trips can be fun with children. Many have onboard videos, a little more space to move about and they even stop so you can walk about and stretch your legs during the trip. Confirm the services available on the bus you are booking and plan games and activities along the way. You can bring a book about the region you are traveling through.
Driving can be tricky. Space is limited, with car seats and safety belts restricting movement. The benefits are that you can go or stop as you wish and that is fantastic with kids. Be considerate of the children when planning the drive. Provide enough resting periods and stretching times for them as they are not used to sitting down for prolonged lengths of time. For safety reasons, you should be clear about how you expect them to behave in the car. Do not drive when you are too tired. Chances are, they are tired too and the combination can be disastrous. Take turns driving if possible and be flexible. If you need to stop and rest, do so.
While on Vacation
Bring along a kit with paper, scissors, and stickers. At the end of each day, have the kids make themselves a page with memories collected from that day to put into a scrapbook.
If you find that the kids are getting restless, don’t hesitate to stop early and save whatever activity you missed for another time. Sometimes, just getting to the hotel room and taking a dip in the pool is all that is needed to get everyone in the mood for continued sight-seeing the next day.
Have conversations about what they like and didn’t like. Maybe they had thought things would be different. It doesn’t ruin the trip to find something unexpected. In fact, it can be a joyful discovery of sorts.
Talk about the trip, the fun things and even some of the difficult things. Children will learn to travel well if they see that problems can be overcome.