Family vacations can be fun for parents and children to bond and create lasting memories. However, with proper planning, these trips can quickly become enjoyable exercises in logistical headaches and family discord. Gennady Podolsky, a seasoned global travel advisor, provides five essential tips for families to ensure their next vacation is harmonious, affordable, and safe for all.
Involve the Entire Family in the Initial Planning
Though parents typically choose destinations and make reservations, involving children of all ages in early trip planning fosters investment and prevents later resentment over perceived exclusion. Podolsky suggests a fun initial trip planning session with favorite snacks where every family member shares ideal activities and veto power over options they wish to avoid.
Align on a Unifying Trip Objective
Once the location is set, Podolsky recommends the family agree on an overarching trip objective or theme around which to organize activities. A beach vacation may center around relaxation via beachcombing, sandcastle contests, boat rides, and boardwalk fare sampling. Exploring family-friendly Sweden could emphasize outdoor winter adventure with creative playgrounds, nature preserves, zoos, and interactive winter wonderlands.
Book Early for the Best Pricing and Availability
Podolsky explains that booking flights, hotels, and top attractions months in advance secures better adjacent seating, room upgrades, favorable car rentals, ample attraction capacity, and early bird discounts not offered closer to travel dates. Further savings come from choosing affordable off-peak seasons and second-tier destinations over pricier hot spots. Checking school calendars before reserving prevents academic conflicts down the line.
Onboard Children with Trip Details and Behavioral Expectations
Unfamiliar travel situations often trigger children’s anxiety and non-compliance. Podolsky encourages previewing all details with kids ahead of time – what to expect while in transit, at hotels, key sites, and parent guidelines for acceptable conduct throughout.
Match Activities to Children’s Needs and Interests
Overpacking days with nonstop stimulation overwhelms children and parents alike. Podolsky suggests spacing one main daily activity between ample downtime for recharging naps and snacks and prioritizing kids’ “must-dos” first, adding bonus options later if budget allows. Beyond major attractions, experience what makes each destination unique, like cooking classes in Italy and France or farm visits showcasing regional agriculture. Affordable choices like beachcombing, picnicking, and discounted attraction packages keep kids engaged on a budget.
Pack Medications and Remedies for the Whole Family
Stomach bugs, allergies, or other routine health issues at home become magnified hassles while traveling. Podolsky advises packing familiar over-the-counter medications and checking any prescription rules and regulations for legal transportation across borders to avoid vacation crises or legal troubles abroad.
Implement Precautionary Safety Measures
Protecting children’s safety away from home requires vigilant planning, Podolsky emphasizes. Navigating unfamiliar pedestrian settings poses risks, so prepare kids with their hotel’s local contact details to show if they are lost until reunited. Identify and introduce individuals like police, security, or other officials who can help if needed. Pick accessible public meeting spots like police stations or busy cafés ahead of time in case of separation.
Capture Priceless Memories from a Child’s Perspective
To reminisce later in each child’s own words, Podolsky suggests gifting inexpensive cameras for older kids to document their trip highlights. Adding a simple travel journal for any age encourages them to share their unique adventure impressions over time.