A family vacation will create bonds and memories that will last a lifetime. But if you’ve seen the Vacation movies and Home Alone 1 & 2, then you could easily worry yourself, as family travel certainly does require a lot of organization. Sit tight. This travel checklist lists everything you need to know to make your getaway as structured as possible, so all you’ll need to do is tick things off.
1. Deciding Where to Go
There are a number of things to take into consideration when selecting your destination. But first, consider:
The interests, ages, and abilities of all traveling family members. What suits your active teen may not be ideal for your 2-year-old or wheelchair-using partner. What to do: make a list of the type of destinations you’re interested in (beach, mountains, city etc.), then research the most popular destinations in these categories. Quite often, popular destinations have become such by catering to broader markets.
The time of year you’ll be traveling. You get your family excited about the tropical Australian beaches. You dream of diving in the Great Barrier Reef. You arrive to realize US summer is Australian winter, the beaches are empty and it’s too cold to swim. Bust.
What to do: In some countries, winter is the perfect time to visit, so simply knowing the season isn’t going to help. A quick key to determining if the weather isn’t great at a particular time is paying attention to the hotel prices. If they are far lower than other times, it is off-season. This is helpful because many companies will advertise places, promoting that they’re perfect at any time. But seasonal rates are the locals’ way of disagreeing with their feet.
And beyond this you have to consider:
- Vacation duration
- Travel time
- Visa restrictions
2. Where to Stay
Once you’ve selected the perfect destination, it’s time to create a tentative itinerary.
- Research as much as you can.
- Generally, capital cities are easier to get to and get around in. So search for a hotel close to the nearest capital city. Hotels.com, Priceline or Booking.com make it easy to search for best-price hotels in major areas. And when you book via dubli.com, you’ll earn Cash Back for your purchases.
- Consider booking a room with a kitchenette which will let you cook meals yourself. Or ask your hotel if breakfast is included with your stay.
- Do you require a wheelchair accessible hotel?
Traveling with a disabled family member? Check out these accessible destinations.
3. What to do on your vacation
Tourism is a vital part of the world today, thanks to smart technology bringing everyone together through instant information-sharing. But even though finding something to do is easy, finding the right things to do is essential.
What does each family member want?
Pay attention to their interests. Billy Connolly recounted in one of his standup shows that he had taken his children to one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, and when they returned to the hotel he, still mesmerized by the experience, asked them what their favorite part of that experience was. They agreed that it was the burgers in the car on the way back. Make a note of all local attractions and ‘must-do’s, then work out how you can do as many as possible.
Tip: if traveling with a teen, check if the places you’ll visit have free wifi so they can share their photos on social media in real time.
4. Getting there
This may be the most important thing to plan, as air travel with a family can be exhausting.
When booking your flights
- Get the best price. Family travel can be far more affordable when you buy smart. Book your tickets via dubli.com and earn Cash Back for your purchase. Furthermore, As a VIP member, you can get 10% off airline vouchers to thousands of destinations in the world.
- Request a row of seats, preferably closer to the front of the seating area.
- If you have a traveler who uses a wheelchair/ mobility device or has any other sort of disability, inform the airline in advance, so they can make any needed arrangements in their capacity
Tips for traveling with a baby
- Pack a small toiletries bag with wet wipes, baby lotion, diapers, diaper cream, spit cloth if newborn or bib if eating, comb, etc.
- Pack a small Baby Essentials Bag with 2 pairs socks, 3 singlets, beanie, 2 changes of comfortable clothes, small blanket/swaddle.
- If you are bottle feeding, speak with your airline regarding rules for traveling with formula. Many airlines can warm your formula for you, but check when booking to avoid surprise. The airline will have bottled water that you can clean your bottle with.
- It is very common for babies under 3 months old to sleep for a majority of the flight. So don’t panic yourself with mental images of your baby screaming the whole time. If you’re calm, bubba will be too.
- If traveling at night, the plane can get chilly.
- Make sure your Baby Essentials Bag is easy to remove things from.
- Comfortable and easy-to-change clothes are imperative for long flights.
5. Getting around while vacationing
Moving your whole family around a foreign country is what will connect all of your experiences together. Most hotels will help you organize transport so ask your hotel representative when booking if they will coordinate transport between the hotel and the places you have decided to visit. Or maybe you’d like to rent a car to make the road a part of your vacation.
Important things to remember when renting a car in another country
- Do you require a car seat? Ask your car rental company if they can fit the car with a car seat.
- Do you need any particular license to drive in your destination?
- Will you be driving on the opposite side of the road than you are used to?
It is always interesting to see new examples of how people get around in other countries. Using public transport in one place will be a premium experience and an experience you’d never try again in another.
6. Before you go
In the lead up to your big escape, time will pass at light speed. Check:
- All passports have at least 6 months validity
- All necessary visas have been issued
- All bookings have been reconfirmed
- All mandatory vaccinations have been taken for the country you’re visiting
- You’ve let a family member or trusted friend know you won’t be at home so they can feed your pets while you’re away
- You have prescription documents and doctor’s letters for any medicines you have to travel with
The big task. Packing for a family vacation in 2017 is far less tiring thanks to two words: online shopping. All of the best brands in the world now have e-stores, so you only need your clicking finger to do the work.
What you need
- Lightweight suitcases
- Carry on bags
- Toiletries bags
- Comfortable shoes
- Comfortable clothes
- At least 1 smart-casual outfit
- International adapters/Chargers
- Zip-up document wallet (to easily carry passports, tickets, necessary paperwork that may need to be available swiftly)
…and finally, you’ll be ready to enjoy! Family vacations that will introduce your children to the world in an unforgettable way. Your children’s lives will be enriched for having had this experience and you’ll have learnt the art of critical management. An art you’ll crave to practice again every holiday.