Just in case you’re wondering, this is not the ultimate packing list for babies and children. There will be no mention of the type of clothes, brand of stroller or assorted extras you should be carrying. Instead, some general tips to make travel as a family more enjoyable. Yes, it’s possible to have a holiday with kids and no, you don’t need a vacation to recover from that vacation. Let’s start with ‘Never go on trips with anyone you do not love’, shall we?
- Consult the expert: For putting the fun back into planning your family holiday, talk to a travel agent. These guys not only specialize in family breaks, but have a mechanism to secure the best flight deals and hotel discounts for you and your tribe.
- When time matters: Once you’ve shortlisted the destination, book in advance for the cheapest fares. If possible, try and take evening flights so everyone from that toddler and teenager to adult is well-rested when you arrive.
- A practice run: From a quick trip to the airport and back to a weekend away in the vicinity, do what it takes to make them comfortable. It’s a matter of time before you realize that preparation and predictability bring peace.
- Less is more: A fundamental mistake is that of jamming your itinerary with an insane amount of things to do. There could be many a sights to see, but children enjoy an afternoon off like no other. The lesser number of items on your to-do list, the more relaxed and stress-free your holiday will be.
- Pack smart: Suitcases with wheels are a must to navigate busy airports, as is a fully-equipped handbag with essentials to get you through the flight, variety of snacks for when hunger strikes and entertainment in the form of workbooks and/or tablet. Select wrinkle-free clothes, color-coordinated separates and pieces that can serve double duty. Travel light because there’s always scope for laundry.
- Hotel & lodging: Whether you chose a hotel, apartment or an Airbnb as your preferred mode of accommodation, ensure that the place is child-friendly. Kids love options like a pool and games room. Then again, added facilities like an elevator, bathtub, laundry and wifi will go a long way in making your stay homely.
- Cut down on costs: Blowing up a large part of your family budget on food? Here’s how to avoid that. Look for hotels that provide breakfast and feast like a king, first thing in the morning. Pack pastries from the buffet to snack on later in the day; order fewer meals than the number of diners and share. And don’t shy away from using that kitchenette to rustle up simple dinners after a day full of outings.
- Loosen up: If there’s ever an appropriate time to drop those rules, it’s on a family vacation. From extra gadget time on the flight to ice-cream for breakfast, a holiday should spell relax in every sense.
- Make memories: While travelling, take in the sights but don’t forget to take some pictures too. Invest in a good-quality camera before you set out. A great activity for younger kids is a travel journal – it keeps them busy while at it and serves as keepsake of the trip.
- Expect the unexpected: I would be kidding if I said travel with kids is easy. It’s not, but your attitude will go a long way to say if it’s worth it. The overcautious could make a list of everything that could go wrong and run through it mentally. The more adventurous of you, on the other hand can look at it as one big, fat adventure with small obstacles to overcome along the way.
Get out and about now. ”There are lot of stories out there waiting for you to live them!