The secret to having more fun and less tears on your family vacation

We’ve all seen the images of the perfect family laughing their way through the perfect vacation at the perfect location under a perfect sunny sky. Enter reality…  

Now, I’m not saying the perfect vacation doesn’t exist. But what I am saying is there will be challenges, there may be tears, and there will be mishaps along the way. And at some stage, EVERYONE will be tired as heck.

Enter Trip Chiefs, with their best tips, tricks, and shortcuts to make the perfect (or as perfect as can be) vacation for your family.

It’s all about location

Nothing will ruin a perfectly good vacation than booking the hotel 10 minutes’ walk to the beach because it will save you a few dollars, when it will really cost you so much more in tears, tantrums, and sore little feet, especially on the return walk home.

If you don’t want to drive anywhere, then make sure your accommodation is very close to public transport and within walking distance to cafes, grocery shops etc. Seriously, if you want to save money, then also ensure you can combat the tears and save your sanity!

fun travel with kids

Check your check-in

At the end of a long flight, everyone is jetlagged, tired, cranky and you don’t know if it’s night or day. Call your hotel or host ahead of time and get a check-in time as close to your arrival as possible.

I know from experience how much of a nightmare it is to have to wait around for hours to check-in when all you want is a shower and clean clothes. Even if you do get told you can check-in early, have a backup plan because so often that’s not the case when you arrive. Use the pool facilities, go for a loop around the city on a hop-on-hop-off bus or sit in a nearby café.

The key to food on arrival

If you are going to be arriving at night, early morning, a weekend or on a public holiday, then it pays to check for food availability before you leave home. Arriving to find that all the restaurants and nearby grocery stores are closed is not a good way to start off a trip. The easiest thing to do is to ask your hotel or accommodation host, and if you want to be super sure, bring a few snacks or cereal with you.

Life wasn’t meant to be perfect

Just as in your everyday life at home, when you travel, things can, and do go wrong. Accept this from the start…it will make a huge difference. Yelling at the airline staff because they lost your bag, flipping out because you turned down the wrong street, or crying your eyes out because your kid just ripped your favourite shirt won’t get you anywhere.

Ok, let’s get real: there comes a time in most travelling family’s life when things boil over. For us, it usually involves driving in terrifying situations like around the seriously narrow hairpin bend roads of Lake Como in Italy. Or when everyone is tired and cranky, you’re lost, son number two needs to go to the bathroom, it just started to rain, and you really need a wine. Just know that you can’t make it all perfect, ride the wave. You will get unlost, you will find a bathroom, the rain will stop and you will get that wine. Take your time. And breathe.

Lost Luggage

Luggage gets lost. It’s crap, but it can happen. A couple of tips: carry all essential prescription medication, your child’s favourite cuddly toy, a set of spare clothes and undies, a charger for your phone and kids’ devices in your carry-on luggage. Just in case.

It sounds obvious, but rip off any old claim checks or destination tags on your luggage. It could confuse baggage handlers or airline staff about your destination. Tag your luggage with updated name and address and telephone number. If your luggage doesn’t make it onto the conveyor belt at your destination, report immediately to the airline. The sooner, the better. And make sure you have travel insurance.

lost luggage family travel

Delayed and Cancelled Flights

Travelling overseas? Maybe you have a few flights to get to your final destination? Then delayed or cancelled flights are always a possibility. Carry extra nappies, snacks, colouring in activity books and your charger in your carry-on. Find a quiet spot near where your rescheduled flight will be taking off and set up camp for a while. You may very well be there for half an hour or a few hours, so get comfortable. Oh, and scout out where the closest toilet is!

If you have a few big flights and you can justify the expense, then buying access to your airline’s lounge is gold. For our trip to the US last year, I joined the Qantas Club instead of paying for a hotel room and then waiting around at LAX until midnight. When the flight was delayed until well after 1 am, it made little difference to us as we had all showered, eaten and were reading books in the quiet and calm lounge.

Quick and easy tip: download your airline’s app so that you receive alerts about delays or last-minute flight cancellations.

Bad Weather

There’s nothing like bad weather to really put a dampener on your vacation, literally.

While you can’t control the weather, it doesn’t control you! We have a habit of googling the weather for days prior to our departure date. Is it raining? Too cold? Humidity out of control? Whatever. Plan the trip around it – and try to avoid booking anything during the worst of the season. We also like to make a list of indoor activities as a contingency plan if the weather gets out of control. There are always museums, science centres, cinemas, and indoor play centres around to occupy the family. But remember… the kids may not be as thrilled about viewing countless historical buildings as you do! Choose wisely.

Getting Sick

Getting sick while you’re away from home is the worst. If you’re planning an overseas trip, visit your doctor or specialised travel clinic a few months ahead of your departure date and get any immunisations necessary. If you have prescription medication or allergies, get a letter from your doctor – most of the time it‘s unnecessary, but I like these for that just-in-case-I’m-pulled-up-by-immigration-and-thrown-in-jail scenario.

Travel insurance is an absolute must if heading overseas. As is an over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol, rehydration tablets, and tummy reliever for diarrhoea. If you have a vomiter, keep a vomit bag on you at all times while travelling. Keep all of the vital medication, prescriptions and letter from your doctor in a dedicated bag in your hand luggage.

To reduce the likelihood of getting sick make sure everyone takes probiotics for at least a few weeks before you go away, use hand sanitizer everywhere you go, and check that the water is safe to drink.

Family travel insurance tips Travel with Boys

It’s all too much

Ugh, you’ve just googled destinations and family vacations, and it’s all too much. Too much information, too many sites to visit, too much choice, too much money. Just. Too. Much.

Stop wringing your hands. Trip Chiefs will make it as easy, simple, and as uncomplicated as we possibly can.

From experience, we know that too much information is dangerous. It’s confusing and frustrating, and so darn complicated. Stop scrolling through endless engine searches on beaches versus mountain resorts, how to save money travelling, do I need a car seat, tips on where to stay, or what to do when your passport goes missing.

We have it covered. Stop with the decision fatigue. We are your one-stop shop for all things family travel.

Now go. Adventure awaits.

Have you heard?

Trip Chiefs are launching their Travel Dream Starter Program to help busy parents save time, money and overwhelm planning a big family trip. Learn more here

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