With fuel costs as high as they are and still rising, flying off the family to a holiday destination can be expensive. It does not mean that the family cannot have a fun vacation still. Consider taking a road trip to enjoy different scenery. If you live in a city, consider a road trip to the country for a stay at cozy cottages or to camp out. If you live in the country, get on the road and get a taste of fast paced city life for a while.
The challenge is in getting there, with all the family members and sense of fun and adventure still intact, especially when the journey is long. Before you head off for the next family trip, take the following into consideration.
Travelling as a Family Through the Country or the City - Preparation
A family holiday is one where everyone agrees on where to go, especially older children and teens, which may be a problem – some want the beach, some want the bush, some may even want to stay behind and make their own plans. Involve everyone in the choice and encourage compromise. Suggest a vote for the destination and settle for the other for the next family vacation or pack in a bit of what everyone wants in the package you choose.
Having settled on this, prepare as early as possible. If you need to, make reservations or if you are going to stay with family and friends, talk to them and let them know when you will arrive and how long you will be staying.
If you are going by road, get your car serviced or if you are hiring one, get it from a reliable car hire service.
If you are going by air, check to see that you have the required documents and that they are valid. There’s not much you can do about an expired passport, permit or visa a day or two before if that’s when you are checking to see that they are in order.
Time the journey so that you are there by nightfall or even earlier than that if possible. Start as early as possible in the morning, taking young ones in their pajamas if necessary if they are unable to get up that early. They can be changed and have breakfast later on when you make your first stop.
On a long drive, allow time to stop and take breaks. Give at least a fifteen minute allowance for every two hours so everyone can go to the bathroom and stretch out a bit, especially the driver.
On a long flight, if you have another adult or older child, take turns watching the young one so they don’t go too far even if they want a break from their seat and they don’t disturb other passengers. If you are alone with a young child, you will have to conform and can only take a nap when they do.
On flights, try and keep children away from the aisle seat. Rather, keep the middle or window seat where you can always have your eye on them and where they are not likely to reach out to other passengers and disturb them.
Travelling as a Family Through the Country or the City - Packing
Pack in consideration with the weather and the activities you have planned. Also try and get everyone to take only as much as they need, especially if you are flying as there is the issue of maximum baggage allowed.
For kids, pack a bit of everything including light and a few heavy items such as warm pajamas and jackets for cooler times like nights even if you are going to a hot- weather location.
Keep essentials like blankets, toys and wipes at hand as well as a change of clothes in a bag nearby rather than in the boot of the car so that you have to stop if you need them.
Travelling as a Family Through the Country or the City - Snacks and Drinks
For young ones, a bag of grab can pacify them and buy you a little quiet time. Don’t make it all sweets though. Pack in healthy and easy foods that won’t leave much of a mess. Finger foods like bread sticks, packs of dried fruits, nuts and cheese are easy to carry and eat. Avoid potentially messy foods like creamy cakes, fresh fruits, crumbly cookies or greasy foods. Also pack them more filling food like sandwiches and perhaps a little salad for when they are really hungry. For yourself, a thermos of coffee to sip on and re-fill when you stop to take a break would be a good idea.
For young children, pack for them drinks like juice and yoghurt water in sip cups or bottles where they can drink through a straw. This is a better option than drinks in packs which they have to finish or throw away to avoid spilling as there is no way to re-seal them. Carry enough water for everyone in their own water bottle so you don’t have to stop and look for it and so that no-one takes water you are not sure is clean when you make a stop.
Avoid buying food at every stop you take. You can stop for one main meal and make sure the place is clean and the food fresh. Otherwise, keep going with what you pack from home.
If you are taking a long flight, check with the airline if you can take snacks for the young children- some airlines allow it and some do not. The foods you want to take aboard may be inspected and you or the child may be asked to test or taste it as a security precaution. For short flights however, the snacks served on board should be adequate unless you have a child with special dietary needs in which case, you should inform the airline early as you make the reservations.
Travelling as a Family Through the Country or the City - Safety Precautions
There is nothing like being over-prepared, especially when traveling with the family. Take a First Aid box and ensure it has essentials like cough and cold syrup, pain killer, fever medicine, sun protection, band aids, insect-repellant, anti-histamines… Also take any medication that any family member may be using, taking extra with you in case of a longer than planned journey or stay.
One thing you should be ready for is motion or travel sickness. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, a general sick feeling and perhaps, vomiting. Travel sickness can occur on any means of transport it is more common while more likely to strike when traveling by boat.
Taking breaks if traveling by car helps as does sitting the person near a window for a blast of fresh air when they need it and to keep them on the scenery rather than on how they are feeling. You may also take some anti-nausea medication but be sure to consult a doctor first, especially if it for a child. Eating something before setting out also helps but not greasy, fatty foods which would aggravate the nausea if a bout of sickness struck.
Travelling as a Family Through the Country or the City - Entertainment
This one is must with the kids. Choose toys and games the can play with alone as well as with each other. Avoid loud noisy toys like screaming siren police or fire truck toys or blaring horn trains- for your own sake.
Older children can take their CDs with them and you can keep everyone interested with a camera to mark milestones of your journey such as interesting landmarks or every stop that you make.
Travelling as a Family Through the Country or the City - Have Fun
Finally, pack your sense of adventure and fun too. Take it easy when the kids start rowing in the back or when unexpected delays and hurdles come up. You will get there and when you do, have lots of laughs and leisure and a stack of photos to look at and remember.
Post by the Gendo Family, Image by The Loushe