You are planning that annual holiday. Once upon a time, this might have been as simple as choosing the Greek island with the most bars on it. But now – like me – you have a family. You have more than one person to consider and there’s a strong chance that at least one of your party still believes in Father Christmas.
Planning a family holiday is not easy. Sure, you might have met those parents that seem to be able to effortlessly juggle full-time jobs, three kids and still find time to compile a watertight holiday itinerary that keeps everyone happy. Good for them. But most of us either keep it simple or default to the holidays that we did as kids.
But travel can be so much more than that. Travel is one of the most special and fascinating experiences that you can share with your your children, which is why I’ve compiled some first-hand suggestions to help you book epic family holidays. Follow these tips for travelling with kids and you’ll be good to go:
Your hotel should have a kids’ club
Kids get bored! It’s a sad fact of life. Most kids don’t see the obvious benefits that come with taking a snooze by the pool all afternoon. Until they do, your nap is going to be hindered by the ticking time-bomb that is a moaning child.
This is an easy issue to remedy however; all it requires is a quick request to your Flight Centre Travel Expert: ‘our hotel must have a kids’ club’. Most hotels cater for kids but some are significantly better than others and our experts will know the right ones for you to consider. This way your kids can play with others of a similar age, all doing some great activities while you catch 40 winks.
Choose a family adventure holiday
The idea of lazing in the sun all day might seem like bliss to you but I can guarantee your kids will disagree. If you have an adventurous family then maybe you should be looking at adventurous holidays. These are pre-planned itineraries that build in time to chill out as well as actually getting out to see the country that you’re visiting. I’ve taken my son on two such trips – in Portugal and Tanzania – and can’t recommend this style of travel enough. What’s more, you travel with other families so there are likely to be other kids to play with when the adults want to relax a bit. Just ask your travel agent for some family adventure holiday ideas.
Check out the food offering before you book
When I visit a new country one of the first things I want to do is try the local food. Don’t get me wrong though; I am not the type of person who will head straight to the street food stall with the live snakes. I just want to try something different and understand the food that the locals eat. When he was 10, my son did not share this enthusiasm for culinary exploration. For kids, uncovering local culinary delights is often closer to torture then a rewarding exploration of new tastes. I think that this trepidation applies to most kids. It certainly applied to me.
When children travel, I think it’s important that they at least try some native dishes, but I also appreciate that they are probably not going to be able to sustain themselves on quarter of a mouthful of ceviche. My point is, for an easy life, wherever you’re heading make sure that there are menus that your kids will like. Pizza seems to have found its way on to almost all international menus so just make sure you ask your Travel Expert to double check that your hotel has at least one place your kids will be happy to fill their boots.
Remember to enjoy it
One of the most important things to remember is that, while you want your kids to be happy, this holiday is not all about them. Unless you are the most selfless parent in the village you need to make sure that you enjoy it too. A holiday should be an opportunity for you and your children to relax and share new experiences. It’s a chance for your kids to see you really enjoy yourself and I think this is an important part of being a parent. Your kids need to know that you are not all about working and rules. My advice is to let someone else do all the hard work. Let one of our Travel Experts devise an itinerary for you, based on the things that you all want to do. All the stress is removed, all the decisions have been made and all you need to do is get up in time to jump on that tour bus.
Take trips that turn you (and your kids) into storytellers
This last one might be the whole reason some of us travel in the first place. We want to be able to tell some great stories – and so do our kids! When I was little, my parents (both keen hikers) took my two sisters and me on family holidays to some of most beautiful countryside that Britain and France have to offer, usually on a two-week walking holiday. As an adult, I look back on this with fond memories and I’m thankful that my parents introduced me to the great outdoors in this way. But, as a child, I was grumpy pretty much the whole time. My parents would make vehement claims as to how gorgeous the scenery was but, to me, it was just trees and grass and there was absolutely nothing I could tell my mates about when I got back to school (unless I saw a dead sheep, which I did on one occasion… cool!).
So, I urge you: give your kids the opportunity to tell some stories. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to Borneo to see orangutans in the wild. There are a vast amount of adventures to be had much closer to home. Take them to Morocco where they can ride a camel across the desert and spend a night under the stars at a Bedouin camp. Or on a multi-activity holiday in Portugal where they can kayak, abseil and learn to surf. If the outdoors isn’t really your thing then how about the theme park capital of the world – Orlando? Or try Dubai, which has some of the world’s best water parks and major theme parks.
So, speak to your Flight Centre Travel Expert, tell them that you want a family holiday that you’ll be talking about for years to come, and try to contain the excitement as you see what they come back with.