Travel as a family is one of my favourite things to do together. We treasure our time spent away from the daily routine and love to see our children blossom as they make new friends on holiday, are exposed to new experiences and make lots of new memories with us as a family. We have taken the kids to campsites, on luxury cruises, on trains, on staycations, to festivals and to spas but whether we are near to home or far, on an expensive trip or not, the best thing is that we are all together.
We had an incredible year for travel in 2016, enjoying a cruise onboard the new Carnival ship, Vista as I was chosen through this blog to be their #SunSeekingFamily ambassador in 2015-2016. These professionals know their stuff when it comes to cruising but also every aspect of their ships and their business. They have been a pleasure to work with and I have loved working alongside them to share the excitement of the Vista. You can read all my posts about Carnival, the Vista and our experiences here.
We also enjoyed some European camping fun when we took a Canvas Holidays half term trip to Italy. Read all about those adventures here and I hope to work with the Canvas team again in 2017.
For the year ahead, our plans are fairly fluid at the moment. We have a main holiday to Mexico booked for the summer and a couples only trip to Dublin at the start of the year, but we also want to squeeze in a family staycay to somewhere pretty in the UK. Last year we spent Easter in the Lake District so this year we are thinking about travelling south to Cornwall! There are plenty of options for child friendly holidays in Cornwall and I know we’d have to do something cool like try a segway tour there. We adored the segways we went on in this video:
Whatever we decide we will make our plans together as a family.
Here are my top 5 tips to have a successful family holiday.
- Listen to everyone’s input. The best way to have a great holiday is to ask each member of the family what they want to include on the holiday and then find a way to do it. Compromises are inevitable due to time or budget restraints but ensure that each person gets to do at least one thing they want.
- Respect the tech! When I was a kid there was no technology – holidays meant switching off totally as there was no way to keep in touch! But these days our kids are digital natives. Mobile phone are everywhere and a way some people relax is to scroll through and share social media. Rather than have a ban on technology on our holidays, we accept the fact that the kids want to be on the wifi, so we try to find places where they can do that. Personally as long as I have a few books downloaded onto my kindle and have the ability every few days or so to post something onto Instagram, I’m happy to leave the wifi alone for the most part, but my teenager and tween want to play games online and Snapchat their friends so I ensure that they can happily do that.
- Plan B. Have a few ideas up your sleeve of what you can do if it is raining or the attraction you wanted to visit is closed. I try to do some research before we travel into what is going on locally, and I ask the locals where we are staying (hotel staff or a friendly cafe owner) for their recommendations. We have found some fun and unexpected things to do on holiday from having our original plans scuppered, so go with the flow!
- Have time out. Family holidays can be relaxing or exhausting depending on where you go and what you are doing, but in both cases we all need to have our time out. This means being relaxed about your schedule and having a late morning one day if everyone needs a lie in, or skipping the sightseeing trip up the mountain that you’d planned to visit. When we go to a festival, the people, sounds, colours, and sheer activity happening means that I get to a stage where I need some time out to rest after a while – the volume of visual and auditory information to process becomes too much and I just need a break. But after an hour or two quietly reading or switching off with a beer, I am ready to go out and party again! We all have our personal needs within the family, and we get on so well because we respect each other’s preferences.
- Eat together. We always make a point of eating our meals together on holiday, so that we can re-connect even if the teenager went off with some new found friends in the afternoon or our son chose to swim whilst we watched from a sun lounger. It doesn’t have to be a formal ‘meal round a table’ event, we have eaten fish & chips at the beach on a blanket before and had a great time, but by coming together for our main meal, we feel like we have spent quality time together.
What are your family travel plans for 2017? Let me know in the comments!