Much like eating, a family that travels together stays together. This might sound cliched, but travelling does strengthen bonds and brings you closer to your loved ones. Vacations with your family can be some of the best experiences you’ll have. However, keeping to a schedule while trying to keep an eye on your kids and making sure your elderly mother is comfortable can be a lot to handle. It doesn’t have to be though.
The key to happier vacations with your family is to pay attention to their needs, and to find the perfect balance between activities and rest time.
1. Choose Your Destinations
Sometimes your family trip happens because of certain circumstances. It could be a wedding, a graduation, a birth or something else. In these cases, there isn’t much you can do, but if you have the luxury of choosing your destination, make sure it suits everyone’s needs. This can make or break your trip. Take into consideration your children’s needs and the health and activity level of your elderly parents.
If you’re travelling with a stroller or wheelchair, it is easier to navigate through flat streets and sidewalks, than obscure places. Also, travelling for long hours takes a toll on kids and the elderly. It’s equally important to take your interests into consideration too. Most destinations have family-friendly attractions, so look for a place that has something for everyone.
2. Pack Smart
When travelling with kids and the elderly, it’s wise to pack to light. You can always buy what you need at your destination. Plus, most hotels like Treebo Hotels will provide towels and toiletries at your destination, so you can leave your personal items back home. Rolling your clothes and stuffing your socks and underwear into your shoes saves a ton of space. Also, encourage your kids to pick their own clothes to minimise tantrums and teach them valuable travel skills. Help your parents pack necessities like their medication in a carry on.
When you pack, make sure you keep what’s needed most right on top. This will help you pull out what you need when you need it. It also comes in handy to keep emergency contact numbers, copies of important documents, and a prepaid phone card in your carry on luggage during the trip.
3. Accommodation for All
Instead of opting for regular hotel rooms with two beds, consider putting up in a hotel that offers one or two-bedroom suites. It might cost a little more, but it’s worth it. Imagine all of you crammed in one room. You’ll have to go to bed at the same time as your kids or parents and you won’t be able to relax after a long day. If possible, book private rooms for you, your parents and kids, so you can all enjoy some time apart whenever you need it. At the end of the day, a peaceful slumber will result in a more successful vacation.
4. Book Ahead to Stay Ahead
Most couples or solo travellers rarely make reservations in advance when they travel. When you’re travelling with family, it’s a completely different scenario. Kids and the elderly can get uncomfortable very quickly and it can get messy. So do yourselves a favour and make reservations in advance at hotels and with transportation in advance to avoid the hassle. This will make travelling so much smoother. Also, don’t assume your hotel or resort will have a crib, high chair, or wheelchair access available. Call in advance and confirm availability of the amenities you need.
Many hotels and transport systems offer a host of amenities to aid to travellers. All you have to do is pre-plan and make enquiries to take advantage of them. A few amenities you can ask for are:
· Call your hotel for special services like a wheelchair or crib, if needed
· Look for hotels that provide amenities you need and are handicapped friendly
· If you need assistance from the airline, ask them. It’s a free courtesy, if it is provided by the airport personnel, it’s nicer to give them a tip
· Some international airlines offer bassinets, that come in handy when you have an infant. Call in advance to ask for one
6. Get Insured
Travel insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, but it’s best to play safe when you’re with children and elders. Speak to your parents about and get them involved in the decisions. If you’re having trouble, call someone and tell them about your specific concerns.
The most important advice to give to families who are travelling is to slow down and take it easy. Travel at a slower pace than you would as a couple or solo traveller. Be realistic as to how much your parents and kids can travel during the day. Don’t cram your itinerary with a huge list of places to visit, instead break up the day and spend some relaxing time at the hotel, before you head out again. The most enjoyable vacations are when you don’t set unrealistic expectations for the day. So have fun!Family travel shouldn’t be a task. It takes a little bit of planning, but it’s all worth it in the end.