Family vacations are a time you want your kids to look back on fondly when they are older and have their own families to create similar experiences. They are a time of joy and exploration, a chance to see the world and an opportunity to get away from the rigours of the real world and kick back somewhere and just forget about life and responsibilities.
But you’ve also got to keep the kids entertained. There’s nothing worse than being excited after planning out an expansive family hotel holiday and having the kids complain all day and every day that they are bored.
Being prepared for a holiday can make or break it. You will, of course, have your camera, your passports, your buckets and spades for building sand replicas of Gondor along the shore, but there are a lot of other things that are needed if you are hoping to have a holiday to remember.
DON’T LOSE THE SNOOZE
Trying to do too much during a short period when on holiday is essential to keeping everyone’s energy at the appropriate levels. Too much will only lead to restlessness and burnout, whereas too little till cause boredom and make those days drag.
Because of this, it is essential to ensure that everyone is well rested and gets a solid night’s sleep. If you are staying at a resort, this shouldn’t be a problem, but for something like a family road trip, it can be a challenge to get comfy during the night. Make sure you are fully relaxed, maybe take along a lavender pillow, or have a hot chocolate or relaxing smoothie before bed.
For times like this, consider researching and investing in roll-up toddler beds that will fit snug into any car, and can be rolled out to give your kids a comfortable and restful sleep. Furthermore, barring any damage, they can be used for future holidays or even sleepovers round a friend’s house, so it doesn’t feel like a lot of money spent on something you will use once.
With a good night’s sleep, your kids will wake up every day ready for whatever you have planned, and you won’t need to deal with grumpy children sulking and acting out at the worst moments.
Kids can be very much like little vessels that can transport all sorts of illnesses without warning. Before leaving for whatever destination you have selected, ensure that they are up to date with any crucial immunisations, especially if you are visiting a tropical country will disease not found at home.
Furthermore, buying sun cream (and lots of it!) will save a lot of sleepless nights and protect your kids from the always-uncomfortable sensation of sunburn, or even sunstroke. There is nothing worse than having one (or more) of the family come down with illness when on holiday, so taking precautions to tackle anything ailment that might strike is a must.
It’s important too that children feel happy and comfortable in their surroundings, and that their mental health is taken as good a care of as their physical health. BetterHelp have a great article on this.
LET’S (NOT) GET LOST
The men of the family will always claim that they know exactly where they are going until after perhaps hours of passing the same donkey along the highway, they will admit that they might be lost.
To avoid this, knowing where you are going at all times will save a lot of unnecessary arguments and keep everyone’s cool – even if it’s boiling. Planning out your routes in advance will not only save you time but also money, think of all the pitstops for snacks and wasted petrol that can easily be avoided.
This is true anywhere you go. You don’t want to have a flight to catch or reservation to keep or activity to arrive at and discover that you were unfortunately too late. Working together as a whole family will save you the hassle and keep things running smoothly.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Well, obviously. Taking little travel shampoos and conditioner may seem like wasted space in your luggage, but they can get you out of tight situations if a flash. Most people will happily ‘borrow’ shower gel and the like from hotels if need be, but having your own will come in handy if you are travelling overnight and need to stop somewhere to refresh.
There will also be times where the water pressure in hotels or campsites isn’t what you are used to back home. For times like this, it is vital to carry emergency wet wipes to scrub away any muck and dust that may have accumulated around your faces, and they are even more important if you don’t have time to shower before your flight. As gross as that sounds, think how gross it might be for the person sitting next to you.
But it isn’t just hair and body you need to keep clean. Travel toothbrushes and toothpaste are vital to maintaining good dental hygiene on long car journeys or after a flight. Furthermore, these kinds of luxuries can cost more money than usual when staying in tourist areas as the vendors know you need them. Save yourself the cash and bring one or two just in case.
PREPARE FOR EVERYTHING
Ignore what the weather report claims your destination will look like when you get there. Every family holidaymaker has dreamt of sun, plus 30℃ temperatures and a place where rain is nought but a myth but upon arrival have found that they have been duped and find themselves in what could only be described as Atlantis risen from the depths.
Because of this almost inevitable possibility, it is essential to prepare for everything, yes everything. Prepare for rain, sun, snow, sleet, no matter where you are in the world (okay, maybe not that extreme). Doing this will save you getting caught out when struck by tropical storms or worse.
Taking the steps to pack yours and your children’s suitcases with proper shoes for both comfort and practicality, along with raincoats, swimming gear, goggles, towels, and everything else you can think of will end up being a lifesaver. Plus, it will grant you the smugness of being able to say ‘I told you so!’ to your partner.
THERE’S NO NETFLIX ON HOLIDAY
Well, there is, but you don’t need to tell the kids that. If you want to keep your kids’ minds busy during your trip, then it is essential to keep them as far away from the TV, phone, or tablet as much as possible.
Every parent at one point during a family holiday has probably said ‘You can watch TV at home!’ And this is true; you want your kids to indulge and embrace the culture as much as possible. Therefore, planning out activities for them ahead of time and finding ways to keep them busy – even if it’s just so you and your partner can get some much-needed rest – is essential.
Depending on the type of holiday, you might want to enrol them in a kids’ club at the resort or take them to do something that they will enjoy, typically something like a waterpark or outdoor play area. Before all of this though, you need to consider how to keep them occupied on the plane or car, so they aren’t running amok. For this, have some of their favourite TV shows already downloaded, or get them to bring a book to read or do activities during the transit. You might be able to get some shut-eye along the way.
The secret to every successful family holiday is planning. Without it, you can quickly find yourself left in a lurch when something unexpected occurs, and of course, something unexpected will occur.
Planning and preparing for every eventuality will make the whole holiday a breeze, and give you the chance to unwind like you have craved for so long, as well as providing your kids with the enjoyment and memories that they will cherish well into adulthood, and pass on to their children.
For more great tips for travelling with a baby have a look at this post from Zena’s Suitcase.