Summer is just around the corner. Are you planning your family holiday with the kids? My brother is sure busy with this activity, as he is traveling more and more with my adorable niece (their family photos below!). Actually, it is one of my dreams to travel with them as well!
Jonathan and I have yet to have children but we have traveled with families, met so many on the road, and have listened to countless stories about the triumph and struggles of traveling as a family. It has its rewards but it can be a challenge if you do not plan ahead!
As such, we thought we could help out by giving you good family travel summer tips that will allow you to have fun with your kids, and more important, create lasting memories. They are only children once right, so you have to make the most of it!
10 Ways to Ensure a Fun and Memorable Summer Family Holiday
Make an effort in putting together a family vacation that you all will love for the summer. There are loads of choices out there, but if you want ease, fun, and reliability, check out Thomson Holidays.
Even better, you can get deals and discounts using My Voucher Codes! A great family holiday should not be exclusive for those only with the biggest budgets, right?
Here, you can score a range of deals from hotels, flights, and child-friendly activities on a variety of destinations. Now there is really no reason why you cannot have a spectacular family holiday this summer. Now, on to the tips!
1. Give kids time – a lot of time.
Hustling and scurrying are usual parts of traveling, be it running from one gate to another at the airport or dashing to the next street to avoid a massive queue on a popular shop. Bur remember, kids do not care at all for the time pressures of travel.
They want to chase that butterfly, see what the moving display is all about, touch the animals, interact with other children around, or go to the toilet as they please. You might find these things as distractions or interruptions but these matter to the kids. They are curious and it is best to simply let them get occupied by what interests them. After all, isn’t this trip about exposing them to the world out there?
So give them the time to do so even if this means traveling at a much slower pace. Actually, it is best if you factor all these little details into your itinerary so there is a lesser need to rush from one point to another. Besides, it is a holiday. Allow the kids to do things at their leisure. Provide them with the time and opportunity that they need to explore, marvel, stall, and even have tantrums.
Yes, this may mean you only get to see eight places instead of 15 but the experiences that your children will have will be far more vivid and stimulating. Create a reasonable time frame and be realistic with your itinerary. Your holiday will be more memorable for all of you and you are less likely to lose your cool. Everyone wins!
2. Book accommodations in advance.
As a couple, you may have revealed in the spontaneity of travel but you cannot possibly put your children to this kind of uncertainty. It may be exciting and romantic to leave details to chance but believe me, your kids will not appreciate this carefree approach, especially when they are tired and hungry.
The last thing you want is to go from one hotel to the next trying to find a vacant room while your young ones are anxious and fidgeting. If they have been on the road or on a flight for an extended period of time, they want relief as soon as possible: a warm bed, air-conditioning, a new change of clothes, and food. Reasoning with them will not take you far in this category. You are just likely to have a fight as you are probably as exhausted as they are.
Besides, it is all too simple to prevent this catastrophe. Simply book ahead. You avoid meltdowns and unnecessary stress by spending 10 minutes on your computer or smartphone booking an accommodation that will look after your needs.
BONUS TIP: Consider home exchanges with another family. You may end up with a child-proof home with facilities that your little ones will adore, such as animals to look at, playgrounds, and wide open spaces. Small details often make or break a family holiday. Think about what will appeal to your children most and you are sure to free yourself from a lot of grief.
However, if you want hotel accommodation, be sure to look for family deals like discounted rates on bigger rooms, free meals for children, or supervised Kid’s Club. The larger hotel chains have particular facilities and promos aimed at families and there is no reason why you should not take advantage. A little effort does the trick nicely.
Plus, when the children are entertained and kept comfortable and occupied, this means you have free time as well to enjoy with yourself or with your partner.
3. Get them involved.
Especially if you have older children, get them involved in the planning of the holiday. Sit down together and ask what they want to do or what they want to see. Get their ideas.
Do they want to hike or do some kayaking? Will they prefer staying in a lake town or in the beach? Which is more enjoyable: a road trip or exploring the jungle? Are three days enough for traveling or is there a need to extend this trip to a week?
Offer them choice and seek input. They will greatly appreciate it. It shows that you are truly making this an all-inclusive experience and more important, that you value their opinion instead of simply imposing whatever you want on them. This is a family holiday, after all, everyone should get a say on what happens as long as it is realistic, right?
Besides, your idea of what is cool for the kids may not be the same as what they perceive! Sure, you think that children’s zoo is adorable but it will not prove worthwhile if the kids feel too old for it or are not as amused as you.
In addition, you might be surprised at some of the fun things that they have unearthed about your destination through research on the web. Just ask! They have all the time in the world to do the research and they are always online anyway. Use it to your advantage and let them point out must-see attractions and restaurants that you cannot miss!
4. Give them a camera!
Time away is the perfect opportunity for the children to learn about new things and widen their view of the world. Why else would you take them to a new country or a new destination anyway? Exposing them to a larger reality sure enhances their growth and development.
And what better way for them to document these new experiences than by taking photos? Pick up a strong, child-friendly camera for them and let them capture everything. They will be more focused and observant with what is happening around them, plus you might be surprised to know a thing or two about what interests your kids based on the photos they take.
It can be fishes, flowers, boats, waterfalls, apples, or bread – these can be cute. Just sort them by the many pictures of feet and wheels that they are likely to get from their knee-high view! For something so simple, this is definitely one thing that they will enjoy on your trip.
EXTRA TIP: Make it more fun by giving them a specific mission or a task. For example, if you are exploring a national park, you can ask them to take photos of all the little animals that they see or mushrooms or flowers along the way. If you are on a city tour, instruct them to capture photos of all the people that they find interesting or intriguing.
This gets them to work and interact more with their surroundings. They pay extra attention, meaning they learn more, their senses are better engaged, and they are fully immersed in your family travel adventure.
5. Start them on scrapbooking.
Pack a scrapbook that they can fill with photos, trinkets, and other memorabilia as you go along your trip.
Print the photos from their cameras, save the stubs from the theme park, grab the receipt from their favorite restaurant, collect postcards, press a flower – there are so many things that you can do to help your children capture all the good memories from your holiday.
This is an activity that they can do on their own as a personal project or you can share in the fun and bond as you do scrapbooking together.
What is nice about scrapbooking is that they stay in the present and are always on the lookout for new things to add to their scrapbook. Wherever you go, they will be on the hunt for something special, meaning, they will fully stay conscious of what you are doing or seeing. They are engaged and interactive. What more can you ask for?
It is easy to get them on the job. For instance, if you are taking them to a nice restaurant, let them take photos of the food and of the actual place. Ask them to pick their favorite food and pair it with a photo. Let them keep the receipt after you foot the bill and get them to write something on its back, like how they would summarize the experience or what they liked most about it. Then, attach everything on their scrapbook!
As an added bonus, they have something really nice and worthwhile to show their friends and other family members once they return from your trip.
6. Download toddler-friendly apps.
You can always bring a toy or two but if you want more space, load your devices with apps and games to keep the children occupied on long road trips or flights. These will shut them up nicely and you do not have to answer 10,387 inquiries of “Are we there yet?”
Of course, you can also pack puzzles, stickers, books, crayons, or magic-scribblers, or have the equivalent in app form. The activities need to be on a constant stream!
Kids are notoriously bored so it is best to come prepared. It gets worse if they are confined to a small space. Another thing that you can do is to let them pack their own rucksack. They can fill it with toys and things that they chose themselves to bring for your trip.
Just remember to check the rucksacks before you leave. Maybe the entire stamp or shell collection of one child is a bit too much!
7. Let them use the public transport.
Kids love the novelty and it gets them excited. Sure, they might have anxieties about hopping on the train for the first time but the moment they settle in, they are sure to enjoy the new sights and sounds surrounding them.
This is particularly enjoyable for them if you are visiting another country with a different language. Just the name of the train stations will fill their ears with something exotic. You can even ask them to repeat it for you or have them give you a nudge once they hear the station that you are getting off at!
These new rituals will fascinate them for sure. And it is not just limited to the train. Let them travel by bus or boat, or whatever method of transport there is that is not easily available at home. Not only will you save up on the car hire, the children will have new memories, too.
Health and Safety
8. Dress the kids appropriately.
How can you expect your children to have fun in the snow if their ski suits are four sizes too big? It will be equally hard for them to enjoy their day in the open sea without coastguard-approved personal floatation devices.
It is just easier and safer if you let the children wear appropriate clothes. They will be much more comfortable in their new environment and be happier to go around. Check the weather in your destination and prepare. Do this ahead so nothing is left behind.
Have the gloves ready, make sure the sweater fits perfectly, pack the slippers so they do not hurt their feet with rocks or sea urchins. There is no excuse for not having the best available gear! If you do not want to spend a lot of money on it, go to thrift stores or borrow from your extended family members who also have children.
9. Travel with an allergy card.
This is necessary if any of your children have serious allergies. Specify the allergy and how best to address it in the language of your destination.
For example, if you are a Chinese family, obviously, it is best to have the allergy card written in German if you are touring Germany than in your native Mandarin – you want people to be able to help your child quickly, in case you are not there to do it yourself.
10. Consider special needs.
For kids with special needs, seek the advice of other parents or families with children who suffer from the same condition. This is great not only for the tips but also for support and motivation.
Also, once you hit the road, make sure your child has an identity bracelet with details of his or her condition, treatment, and doctor’s information in case of an emergency. What this does is add a layer of security during your travel. The more at ease your mind is, the better you can attend to the needs of your family and the better you can enjoy your time together.
For more tips and ideas, you can check our infographic below! =)
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