A GOOD PLAN & A GOOD ATTITUDE
Planning a family vacation can be overwhelming, even if it’s a trip to a not-so-far-away place for a short period of time. It’s no surprise, then, that the idea of international travel can be downright mind boggling.
There’s a long flight to consider, a time difference to master and a strange culture to learn about. You’re probably wondering, is the hassle worth it?
Take it from us. With proper planning and a proper attitude, international travel is an unbeatable experience that will enrich the entire family.
Here are ten killer tips that will lessen your stress before, during and after your adventure abroad.
Image Source: Pexels
Before the Trip:
Check it. Don’t forget to check the passports! Allow yourself plenty of time to renew passports or get brand new ones if need be. Be sure that they’re valid for up to three months after you return home. What many folks don’t realize is that airlines and travel authorities may not allow you to board your plane unless your passport is good for weeks after your return home.
Clean it. The last thing you want to deal when you return home from a vacation is a messy home. Whether you carve out time to clean up on your own or hire a cleaning service while you’re gone, you’ll be glad you don’t have to do dishes on your first night back.
Carry it. Your carry-on luggage may be your lifesaver. In case your luggage is delayed, each family member should carry on extra clothes and toiletries. It’s a good idea to have plastic bags handy for any soiled clothes.
As for regular luggage, don’t over pack! Take what your think you’ll actually use and leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs that you’ll pick up along the way. Some families stick to the “you pack it; you carry it” rule that means every family member is responsible for carrying their own suitcase, regardless of how heavy it is.
Sleep on it. Most international flights happen overnight, so make sure the kids are good and tired before they board the plane! Once their initial excitement wears off, the best case scenario is that they’ll snooze away the hours. When they wake they’ll feel revived and eager to go (and so will you!).
During the Trip:
Stay up. If you’re not used to overseas travel, jet lag can drag you down! One way to deal with the time difference is to stay up late the first night of your trip. This may sound crazy, especially if the flight has tired you out. But trust us, if you fight the urge to take a nap on the first day (or go to bed early) you’re more likely to adjust to the new time zone.
But how do you keep the kids awake? Take a long walk (make sure you have the right gear, of course) or visit parks or playgrounds. The new surroundings plus the fresh air will keep the kids stimulated. Be sure to have plenty of snacks on hand that will keep the little ones rolling until it’s time for an actual sit-down meal.
Write it up. Encourage the kids to keep a travel journal. This can be a diary of your daily adventures or more of a scrapbook that includes sightseeing photos and small souvenirs like brochures or ticket stubs. Keeping a record of the trip makes for a fun activity and also serves as a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
Image Source: Unsplash
Don’t speed up. Whatever you used to do on your solo trips won’t work with kids in tow. The fact is, you’ll need to slow down and let go of your expectations. In other words, be prepared for your plans to go belly up at any time and make an effort to go with the flow. It’s a good idea to select just a few activities each day, perhaps with the biggest venture in the morning when everyone is rested and rearing to go. Mix in some down time in the afternoon in case the kids (and parents) need a power nap or simply an hour or so to relax.
Speak up. Make a list of the top 5 to 10 phrases in the country’s language and encourage each other to try them out while sightseeing or enjoying a meal at a restaurant. You’ll be amazed at how pleasantly surprised the locals will be when your little ones are saying “please” and “thank you” in the native tongue. What’s more, you and your kids will feel more confident exploring an unfamiliar area when you understand some of the conversations around you and recognize words on street signs and menus.
After the Trip:
Share it. Once you’re back in your old stomping grounds and have unpacked and maybe even done a load of laundry, share highlights of the trip. This is a great time to look at photos and scrapbooks or read excerpts from each other’s travel journals. You may want to create a calendar from your favorite photos so you’ll have a monthly reminder of this special time (plus, calendars make great gifts for grandparents!).
Sing it. Here’s a neat way to keep the memories of the trip alive long after you’ve returned home. Ask your family what song reminds you of your time abroad. It can be a contemporary tune or something from long ago. Maybe it’s the first song you heard when you set foot in the new country. Whatever you pick, all you’ll need to do is play that song whenever you want to relive your family’s good times.
Make It Happen Again
No matter your destination, if your mind is set on having an enjoyable and meaningful family vacation, you can make it happen. When you use the tips above, you’ll realize that that it’s absolutely manageable.
Before you know it, you’ll be planning trips every year and your entire family will be seasoned travellers. We’re willing to bet that when your friends have questions about visiting overseas, you’ll be the one they call on to rock international travel!