Planning your family holiday

Planning your family holiday

Family at beachPlanning a family holiday can sometimes seem like an incredibly stressful experience. From trying to decide where to go that suits everyone, to packing everyone’s belongings, it can sometimes feel like it is more hassle than it is worth. But this all changes when you arrive at your destination and all your planning is worth it, as you have a family holiday that has something for everyone. But where should you start? We are going to help you through every step of planning your holiday, including different hints and tips, to not only make the process easier and less stressful but also, to ensure that you are getting the most out of your holiday that you.

Before you start any in depth planning, you need to decide where it is you want to go. First of all, decide if you want to explore the United Kingdom with your family, or if you want to take them further afield. There are a few things that can help you make that decision. Your budget is one of the most important things to think about. How much are you willing to spend on your family holiday, bearing in mind that you need to consider the costs when you are out there as well? More often than not, holidays outside of the UK will cost more than holidays inside the UK, due to the added cost of travel (especially if this will require a flight). Think about how many children you have and the ages of them. If there is a bigger age gap, think about the fact that you will need to find activities that will keep both children entertained. Will you be travelling with your family alone, or will you have a partner travelling with you. If you are travelling on your own, remember that you will have to carry all of the luggage, sort out transport etc. when you reach your destination. If you are travelling with younger children or babies, consider the flight time. Longer flights leave yourself open to more problems as there is a risk that your children will get bored and tired and thus start creating on the flight. Once you are on the flight, you cannot get off until you land, so how will you keep them entertained throughout the flight? Does any of your family have existing health problems that could cause problems during the holiday? Are they seeing a doctor for anything? If so, check prior to booking that this area is suitable for them to go, and think about the location of the medical centres and know how to get to them at your destination should you need to rush there. If your children are in the middle of potty training, it may be beneficial to postpone your holiday. If not, consider the fact that you will have a lot of extra stuff to pack, such as tissues, wipes and alcohol gel. Finally, consider the language barrier that you will face when you are there. Will this affect your children’s enjoyment; will they or you struggle to communicate whilst you are there? Some of the above issues will be discussed in greater detail throughout this article.

If you have decided to travel outside of the UK, your first priority should be your health whilst you are away. It is important to have researched the area thoroughly prior to going and consulted with a doctor to find out if there are any vaccinations or medication you will need for the area that you are visiting. Be sure to tell them the ages of your children, as some immunisations and anti-malarial’s are unsuitable for children. Also if you are travelling with a baby, think about how they will be fed. If you are breastfeeding, you may not be able to take the relevant anti- malaria medication that may be required, and if they are fed on formula, are there any restrictions with regards to what you are allowed to bring onto the aircraft, or country that you are travelling to? If any of the above is affected by your chosen destination, it may be worth reconsidering where you go.

If you are travelling with more than one child, you need to consider the ages of your children. It is important to plan a holiday that can Family boarding shipcater for them, and will be child friendly. If you are used to booking holidays for your friends, or for yourself, you will realise that it is very different when planning for a family holiday. Your priorities have to change, and it is much easier to plan an itinerary of what you want to do whilst you are out there. This does not have to written in stone, but, by having a rough idea will imply that you have researched the area well, and know what activities are available for your family. Do not be tempted to plan too much with your days. You will not be able to do as much with your day with your children as you would on your own, and it is important to remember that this is their holiday too, and they do not want to spend it feeling really tired because they have been rushing around, but at the same time, you want to be able to fill the days appropriately, so they do not get bored. Similarly, do not forget about the journey. Make sure you have made up a travel pack, with a few toys, and crafty bits, as well as some snacks, so they can remain occupied for the duration. This will make your journey a lot less stressful.

Remember that if you are travelling with younger children, they are likely to have a routine that they stick to at home, such as waking up, going to bed, certain times of the day that they will nap etc. and you have to take into consideration that this is likely to change whilst they are on holiday. Part of the excitement of going on holiday for children is that they are breaking from the norm, and doing things that they would not usually be doing, but at the same time, it is important to help your children adapt to the changes and understand them, particularly if they will be in a different time zone. Although some routines will slip, try and keep certain ones, such as their bedtimes, and mealtimes as this will all help them to adapt to the new surroundings. There are also a few tips that you can try to help make your child feel settled in the new area, particularly if this is their first time that they would have travelled away from home. If they sleep with a toy, or a specific blanket on their bed; make sure that you pack this. It will help them to sleep and will make them feel more at home and settled. If your child is still sleeping in a cot, ensure prior to travelling that your hotel provides these. Also, you can enforce new, exciting routines whilst you are away; for example wearing a hat, and putting sun cream on every day. Children like routines, and simple ones like these can help them to feel settled.

Plane mid flightFinally, if you do decide to go abroad, ensure that your passports are all up to date. Remember that children’s passports need to be renewed sooner than adults and if there is anything less than six months left on your passport, it is worth renewing it, as you can carry forward up to nine months from your existing passport. Although many people have been known to book their family holidays despite the fact that one or more passports have expired, the Passport Office does actually make it extremely clear that this should not be done. Organisation really is key with any holiday, but especially if you are travelling with your whole family and getting this sorted in advanced, and certainly before you have booked anything could save you a whole load of stress and panic in the run up to the holiday. Make sure you have photocopies of all of your passports as well, should anything happen to your when you are away. Keep one copy with you, and leave one with a reliable person at home.

Family holidays really are rewarding for both you and your children and it is an excellent way to further their learning as they are getting to see places they would not normally see. The above is purely designed to help take the stress out of planning and organising it as it is easy to forget certain points, especially when you factor in excited children. Read our ‘10 tips for travelling with children’ for more advice, and overall, enjoy it and have fun. 

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