Its spring and you are probably starting to wonder about your family vacation for this summer. As a traveling mom I know that traveling and children can be a challenging combination. But don't let this hold you back. A family getaway can be highly rewarding and can bind you all together like nothing else. Here are some tips to get you going.
- Before you go:
o Think of what you like to do – take everyone into account everyone favorites and make a list of activities that includes something for everyone. The list can be varied and that's OK – I'm sure you parents like to visit an art museum from time to time and your kids may not necessarily put that on their list.
o Build your itinerary taking into account the list of everyone favorite fun stuff. Make sure you create a balanced mix of activities. Going to the zoo one day and an art museum the next will allow you all to enjoy the variety of attractions.
o Build in leisure time – don't try to do it all. We found that doing one major attraction in the morning, taking some time to rest and then doing an afternoon activity worked best for our bunch. An afternoon activity may be as simple as visiting a local bookshop, a toys store, or going to the local garden so the kids can play around.
- Pick the right vacation for you and your family:
o If you like the variety and your children enjoy the occasional visit to a museum pick a large city as the base for your vacation. London and Paris are wonderful cities where you can easily spend a week and not get bored. Most cities also offer some green space where the kids can run around and play. Include a visit to some hands on museum like a science museum or a natural history one allowing you all to learn together.
o If large cities and crowds make you nervous and you prefer the outdoors focus on the beautiful country side. Switzerland, Southern Germany, Netherlands and north Italy lake region all offer beautiful nature dotted with small towns to explore. Pick a central location for your lodging accommodation and do day trips to various attractions located up to 1 hour from the hotel.
- Pick the right accommodation for your family:
o The right hotel can make the difference between a wonderful family vacation to a frustrating one. From our experience we found that staying in apartment like accommodations are much more convenient when you are traveling as a family. Have some extra space will allow you to enjoy spending time in the hotel, or getting some rest in the middle of the day. Having kitchen and dining facilities will allow you to take a break from eating out and instead grab some take out and eat in the comfort of your hotel room. Try to find an apartment with a washing machine – it will dramatically reduce your packing requirements. If you can pack for 3 days instead of a week that's dramatic savings in luggage space.
o I find it easier to book apartment hotels than rent directly from the owner. I like to book in advance and pay when I arrive which is how apartment hotels as opposed to private owners which usually require a prepaid deposit to be made.
o Be sure to read what other travelers are saying about your accommodation before booking. Tripadvisor.com is a good site to read such reviews.
o Some good sites to look for apartment hotels would be Booking.com and Bizstay.com. Although the 2nd site is geared towards business travelers I found there is a correlation between executives looking for short term apartments and families looking for vacation apartments.
- Plan ahead and build your itinerary
o When traveling with children planning is essential. It's impossible to plan as you go when you have to take care of 2-3 children at the same time. To reduce stress and allow you to enjoy your travels we found planning ahead is much easier.
o Planning is actually the beginning of the vacation – include the kids in building the plan. Consult them on which attractions they'd like to visit. Browse the web together and check out what's fun to do at your picked destination. Getting everyone involved ensures their cooperation in the trip itself.
o Use Google Maps to put all your attractions on a map. Once what you want to do is on a map it's much easier to pick the right accommodation and build the itinerary.
o Build a daily itinerary of your trip – include where you'll be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as the morning and afternoon activities. You don't have to stick to the plan while traveling but having one makes it easier to travel as a family and allows you to just enjoy the ride instead of being busy trying to figure out what to do next.
o Make sure to check opening hours of the various attractions when building your itinerary. Keep in mind that many museums are close on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Having prepared everything in advanced I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. Don't forget your camera because capturing your adventures allows you to enjoy them again and again once you return home. If you're looking for specific tips on places to enjoy with children feel free to browse our site and videos, or just shoot me an email at email@example.com.