Family travel mistakes not to make

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Taking a family holiday can be a stressful thing – coordinating your annual leave schedules, agreeing on a budget, deciding where to go, purchasing the flight tickets, making hotel bookings, packing and more would tire out most people even before their holiday starts!

But, family travel doesn’t have to be a stressful time with screaming toddlers, bored teenagers, and flustered parents. It can be a special time spent with the people who matter most – your family – doing things that all of you enjoy. Preparation is key.

Zoe Chan, a new mother with accommodation booking website Hotels.com, shares some useful tips for fuss-free family travel from her experiences.

1. Research

– Find out the location of the nearest hospital and how to get there from your hotel.

– Make sure you have your insurance provider’s contact details at hand.

– Work out your mode of transport and routes for each destination.

– Find out about baby nappy changing facilities available at the places you are visiting.

– Find out if there are special activities you can enjoy with your child. Most hotels and airlines have special programmes for kids.

Family travels.

If you’re travelling with young children, plan your itinerary to match your child’s regular feeding and resting schedule. Photo: Hotels.com

2. Plan

– Plan your travel itinerary to match your child’s regular feeding and resting schedule. For example, if your child’s usual nap time is in the morning, arrange activities in the afternoon so that you won’t be dragging a grumpy, sleepy child along with you on your morning excursions.

– Involve the whole family in the planning process. Discuss and decide on the places to visit and explore, and things to do together, so that the whole family has something to look forward to on the trip.

– Use travel apps to find out about the weather, traffic conditions, get routes and maps, hotel reviews and taxi services at your destination. However, make sure you’re not distracted from spending time with your loved ones during your trip by electronic devices.

Family travels.

Travel with another family with kids of a similar age group so that the young ones can hang out with one another while the adults have some grown-up time. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kevin Poh

3. Pack smart

– Determine what items you should bring and make sure they are travel-friendly. For example, is the stroller light enough or would it be cumbersome when climbing up and down different levels of subway stations? And, is a backpack-style nappy bag more suitable than a normal carry-all?

– Check with your hotel on the available facilities because it might save your having to bring them. For example, does the hotel offer amenities like potties or sterilisers?

– If you plan to do a lot of shopping, you might want to consider mailing your purchases home so that you don’t have to lug all that extra weight back. So, check with your hotel in advance to see what your options are.

– Bring snacks, new toys and colouring books to keep your kids occupied during long journeys.

– Make sure you’re prepared for any unexpected ailments such as headaches and stomach problems, and pack the necessary medicine too.

4. Sharing is caring

– Travel with another family with kids of a similar age group. This means the young ones will have their own kaki (mates) to hang out with, while the adults sneak away for a few rounds at the bar, casino, or other adult activities.

– Babysitting duties can be shared on a rotation basis with the other parents. This means you can take a breather and have some guilt-free quiet time during your holiday.

5. Expect the unexpected

Just as in life, no matter how much you plan and prepare, sometimes, things might still go wrong … so, don’t be disheartened if they do.

Just remember not to let the stress get to you because the kids are watching! And they are learning from your example on how to handle adverse situations. So, make sure you teach them the right lessons in life. – Ming Teoh

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