With school holidays upon us, now is the time to break the mundane routines and plan that much needed family break.
A shared adventure strengthens family bonds and creates lifelong memories. Besides being a lot of fun, holidays can also provide the perfect opportunity for the whole family to discover new talents, learn different skills and find interesting hobbies.
Also see: Your upcoming South African Easter in a chocolate-coated nutshell
Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing for British Airways (operated by Comair) and father of a little boy, shares some tips on how to really make the most of your family getaway.
Get the kids involved
Involve your kids as much as possible in the holiday planning process to ensure everyone gets to do what they want to do. Research your destination and give your children a short list of activity ideas and get them to pick their favourites.
Children love to be given responsibility and the process can teach them valuable lessons about compromising, planning and even budgeting.
Assign each child their own suitcase and encourage them to choose and pack their own clothes. This teaches them valuable travel and decision making skills, and hopefully decreases the chance of wardrobe arguments.
Guide them to pack lightly and choose colour-coordinated items. Maximise space by rolling clothes and stuff socks and accessories inside shoes. Pack what they will need first on top so they won’t need to scratch through their whole suitcase to find their pyjamas at bedtime.
Helpful hint: "If your child brings along their favourite teddy bear, doll or blanket on a flight, have the check-in attendant attach a luggage tag to it, so if it gets lost it can be returned," says Pozyn
Location and comfort
Once your family has agreed on sightseeing activities and places to visit, choose a hotel that is centrally located and within walking distance to most of the activities.
Decide what is important to your family and choose a hotel wisely; If your kids love to swim make sure your hotel has a swimming pool. Check that the room layout provides you and your family with enough comfort and space.
SEE: Tripadvisor's Top 20 Hotels for families in SA revealed
When you're flying to your holiday destination, you can see more of your destination by hiring a car once there.
When travelling with children, opt for a SUV or larger sedan car to ensure your family has enough comfort and space, especially for all the luggage. It’s also a good idea to request a car with leather seats which are easy to clean in case your kids decide to decorate the seats with ice-cream, juice, tomato sauce or any other sticky substances.
Also see: Easter road safety: Parents warned about new car-seat rules for children
Holidays are a chance to escape mundane routines, emails, meetings and client demands and enjoy quality family time together. Turn your data roaming off while you are out with the family to stop those work emails and meeting requests coming through.
Activate your email ‘out of office auto-response’ before you go on leave and trust that your work colleagues will handle things in your absence. Instead of uploading every snap to Facebook or Instagram while you are out, be present and in the moment and wait until the children are asleep at night to do it - or even better, wait until you get home from your trip.
Helpful hint: "Turning my phone onto flight-mode is second nature to me when I board a plane, but the trick is leaving it on flight-mode even after I’ve disembarked, when my holiday officially begins," says Pozyn.
Learn a new skill together
Make your holiday more memorable and learn a new skill together.
If you are heading to the coast, take a family surfing lesson or try paddle boarding. If you are going on safari, learn the names and interesting facts about the animals you spot and quiz each other. Find something that’s new for everyone.
You’ll impress and inspire your children with your sense of adventure and share in the joy of mastering a new skill together.
Music evokes memories, so why not pick a holiday theme song that the whole family loves. Every time you and your kids hear the song after the holiday has passed, it will remind you of the beautiful memories you made together. Remember to take lots of holiday photos of the special times shared.
Helpful hint: "Load an iPod with some fun holiday music to keep your kids happy and quiet on the flight. It is a good idea to give your children a disposable camera so that they can capture the holiday from their perspective," says Pozyn
Take time out
Although it is natural to try and fit in as much as possible on holiday, be sure to make time for afternoon naps – it is an opportunity for you to recharge your batteries and have some quiet time while the kids rest.
Plan the bulk of your exploring and sightseeing activities in the morning, so after a hearty lunch you can head back to the hotel room for some rest and relaxation.
Helpful hint: "Although a holiday is a chance to escape routine, try and stick to your family’s normal sleeping patterns. Tuck your kids into bed as close to their normal bedtime as possible and awake early in the morning and head out straight after breakfast to miss the crowds and queues," Says Pozyn
Final tips for making the most of your family holiday:
- Do your research, plan properly.
- Remember: It is a blessing and opportunity to be able to travel with your kids.
- When it’s time to return to your normal routine again, keep a clear mind and be ready to take on the new school term.
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