Do you often find yourself dreaming of a relaxing family holiday? Well you’re in luck –and it’s not the laughable fantasy you might think. The following tips will provide you with helpful suggestions and ideas to ensure that everyone in your family will be talking about their holiday for years to come – for all the right reasons. The astute reader will notice that there is one fundamental, underlying theme: Planning.
1. Choose your destination carefully
It is important to remember that not all holiday destinations are suitable for families with toddlers. When making your decision, consider the climate (perhaps postpone that mid-winter trip to Svalbard), the facilities available (no running water adds an additional challenge), the activities on offer and the travel required (are you really brave enough to endure a long-haul flight?).
Staying close to home is always a safe option, especially if your kids are still very young. Exploring your own backyard first is a great philosophy and there are plenty of toddler-friendly holidays you can go on throughout Australia and New Zealand. However, if you really do want to head overseas, how about a relaxing trip to one of the Pacific Islands? Visit the beautiful Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Rarotongaor New Caledonia, all of which are ranked among some of the best family holiday destinations in the world.
2. Choose your accommodation carefully
Choosing your accommodation is equally as important as choosing your destination. Decide whether you want to be in the heart of the city near the shops and restaurants, or right beside the beach.
That beautiful, luxury spa resort may not have suitable entertainment for the young’uns. However, those that offer babysitting services,have a fenced pool and playground area, and offer high chairs for meal times are more likely to be child-friendly, resulting in an enjoyable holiday for everyone.
Some resorts even offer inclusive family holidays, providing everything from meals to transfers. These holiday packages are a fantastic option if you want to relax and take some of the pressure off yourself.
3. Do your research
As well as considering destination and accommodation, “do your research”includes finding out if there are any festivals, shows or special events you can attend (or avoid) during your stay. It is worthwhile to know in advance where all of the potential restaurants, cafes, museums and beaches are, as well as information/visitor centres, consulates and hospitals (working on the principal that if you have this information, you won’t need it)!
Once you have done your research, schedule in all of the activities and outings you wish to achieve and create an itinerary. If your kid is old enough, you can let them choose one or two special things that they would like to do. Then, ensure that you allow plenty of time to get to the airport, to meet transfers and to go to the toilet, so that your relaxing holiday doesn’t become a stressful nightmare.
Scheduling in some laid-back downtime is also perfectly valid and completely necessary.Plan to take the first few days easy, while everyone acclimatises to anew environment,foods, time zones and a different bed. Finally, factor in time for siestas – you can thank me later!
5. Plan your route
Planning your route carefully with sufficient toilet and playground breaks is an important steptowardsensuring that your family holiday goes as smoothly as possible. Take note of when there will long waits and travel periods. Be especially aware of long, windy gravel roads with potholes the size of an Olympic swimming pool – avoid these at all costs!
If you are driving yourself, keeping old-fashioned paper copies of the necessary maps is a great back-up option for when you venture out of cell-phone reception or if the sat-nav tells you to take a non-existent left turn. Always triple check the directions before leaving!
6. Pack wisely
The age old adage is particularly applicable when planning a toddler friendly holiday: Pack light! Packing for everyone can be daunting, so here are a few checklist items to get you started.
7. Have a great attitude!
Finally, no matter how much planning and preparation you do, things can and will go wrong! There is the mystery of the missing luggageand the horror of the missed connection. However, your kids will learn a lot from the way you handle these issues and it is a valuable learning experience.
Being flexible and always having a Plan B (and Plan C) goes a long way to ensuring that you will all have an enjoyable family holiday together. No matter what happens, try to maintain that fantastic sense of humour. So, get packing and enjoy yourselves!
Johanna Cider is a freelance writer based in Auckland, New Zealand with experience writing about travel and lifestyle.