Stress Free Family Travel
Article by | Kelley Austin of Cruise Planners
With family vacation time upon us, it is not hard to start feeling overwhelmed preparing for the big trip. Whether still in the planning stages or the actual trip preparation stages some simple guidelines can make a big difference.
During the planning process one thing to remember is not to confuse price with value, this often leads to overspending on vacations. Know your vacation budget up front, while it is not always known what a trip may cost, everyone knows what they are willing to spend. Remember to consider all details, not just the cost of “booking the trip” but the anticipated spending in destination as well. Too many times vacationers overspend on vacation for things that could have been purchased at a lower cost during the planning process.
Another key decision in the planning process is to determine if this is a trip “for” the kids, or a trip “with” the kids. These are very different types of vacations. If traveling with small children, check in to family services available on the cruise line or at the resort. Some cruise lines and resorts carry items such as diapers, play pens, etc. and will allow you to reserve items in advance. If traveling domestically, consider shipping items to your destination.
Always take any medical, physical, or dietary special needs in to consideration. Not all hotels, resorts, or cruise lines are equipped to handle all needs. If traveling with an infant or very young children, it is important to keep them in mind when planning the family vacation. For example, most cruise lines and resorts children must be fully potty trained to be in the pools. Regarding kids’ programs on cruise ships or at resorts, the minimum age is often two or three years old. If anyone in the family has mobility issues, knowing the size of the resort, terrain of the destination, or if the hotels have elevators can be crucial details. Dietary considerations should also be addressed during the planning stages if possible. For example, someone with severe food allergies may run in to issues at resorts that have mostly buffet style food.
Air travel can be exciting yet frustrating when traveling with younger children. Airport security can be quite the process these days. TSA has great information on their website including an entire section about traveling with children that has helpful videos. If traveling with any strollers, car / safety seats, wheelchairs, walkers or any other assistive devices, remember to practice manipulating them before travel. Taking quiet toys for children to play with in the airport and on the plane will help pass the time for them. Always remember to bring ear phones or ear buds for any electronics, other travelers don’t always have the same taste in movies or music. For longer flights, bring child friendly foods that only require boiled water such as Ramen noodles, or macaroni and cheese.
There are a couple of tips that can be helpful regardless of destination or how you are getting there. With the popularity of cell phones these days, no one is ever without a cameral. Each morning I recommend taking a family picture, this can be crucial. If anyone in the family gets separated it can induce immediate panic. In moments of panic, remember something as simple as the color of someone’s shirt seems like a daunting task. If you have a picture to look at, you don’t have to “remember” details. Having a picture on your phone is also helpful as it can be instantly shown or shared to others to assist in a search if needed. Another tip is to always make multiple copies of photo ID’s. Keep a second copy separate from the original and leave another copy behind with someone you trust. Lost ID’s are more common than most people think. Having a copy of your lost ID can streamline the process for getting home if an ID is required to fly or even use a credit card. In some countries it is common practice to see an ID with every credit card transaction.
It’s summer, the most popular vacation season of the year, it’s time to enjoy a stress-free family vacation!