10 tips for a stress and hassle-free family holiday.
It’s great to get away with family and relax, but that time can often be filled with stress. Here are 10 tips to ensure you have an enjoyable and hassle-free holiday.
1 Make a plan
While the memory of spontaneously wandering the world with a backpack may not seem too distant, doing it with children in tow can cause a few anxieties. So, map out your holiday with their help to ensure a hassle-free holiday that everyone can enjoy. Researching it together on the internet is a great way to ensure you are all on the same page and have similar holiday expectations. Book ahead for activities and accommodation. This prevents disappointment and grumpy fellow travellers. These days everything can be booked online, from flights and hotels to restaurants, and doing so gives you more time to explore, relax and pretend you are a backpacker again.
2 Switch off
That means your cellphone, laptop, iPad, alarm clock and anything else that connects you to the world. Switching off means time-out from everyday life. Focus on downtime, grabbing afternoon snoozes and catching up with family. Sure, it may take a couple of days to really unwind and stop checking those work emails, but there’s nothing better than surrendering to a holiday. You deserve it.
3 Expect the unexpected
No holiday will ever go according to plan. I often think of the poor tourists who visit Cape Town and are unable to get to the top of Table Mountain because of bad weather. You may experience things such as flight delays, road works, mechanical problems and poor navigation. “It’s all part of the adventure,” I said to the boys on a recent trip to Australia. Our plane was delayed due to technical problems and we spent our first night on holiday in a sad little hotel in Benoni. Whatever you do, don’t let the hiccups spoil your time away.
4 Get real
We all go on holiday with great intentions and expectations. I usually plan to read my camera’s instructions, refine my photographic skills and produce award-winning shots when I go away. My husband always says he’s going to teach the boys how to fish and feed the family for the time we are away (ja, right). Horse riding on the beach, climbing Table Mountain, cooking lessons with locals – no matter how keen you are to get out and do everything, you have to get real and realise that you are on holiday, and some of that time can be spent doing, (dare I say it?), absolutely nothing. A good reality check is a surefire way to ensure a hassle-free holiday.
5 Keep it simple
These three words you really need to hang on to make sure you have a hassle-free holiday are Keep It Simple. Keep it simple whether you are heading for a globetrotting marathon or escaping to the coast. Nobody wins awards for the number of kilometres they cover or how many activities they cram into a day. While you may be heading to a destination with a million things to add to the “to-do” list, make sure you prioritise. Not only can all these activities break the bank, they can break the holiday mood and send you home feeling more exhausted than when you left. Discuss activities with the family and make a democratic call on which ones you are going to pursue.
6 Medically speaking
This is where I shift from Type B personality into Type A in the blink of an eye. One of my pet fears is being caught in a remote location without appropriate medication, so my holiday first-aid kit is packed before we have even decided to go on holiday. The thought of being caught in the middle of the Zambezi with a runny tummy and no remedy or toilet paper is enough to make me nauseous. My son’s asthma pumps are strategically placed in all luggage. So too are sunscreen, painkillers and plasters. Call me a pharmacy on safari, but I feel secure knowing that whatever the ailment, we can pretty much deal with it.
7 Set a few boundaries
Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean rules and routine go out the window. While we may thrive on being out of our comfort zones in new and exciting places, our children still need to feel safe within a system that they know, respect and love. Breakfast time is still breakfast time; sleep time is still sleep time. But don’t beat yourself up if these times get a little stretched. You’re on holiday after all.
8 Don’t go it alone
Admit it: how often have you returned from holiday in need of another one? This defeats the purpose of a getaway altogether. The planning, preparation and execution of a hassle-free holiday is hard work. Share the love and the limelight. Let someone else take responsibility for organising a meal, suggesting the odd activity or hunting for accommodation. Sometimes just being able to hand over the reins of responsibility is all the respite you need to recharge those batteries. You’ll be amazed at the eager hands just waiting to take over.
9 Pack right
Don’t overdo it, but don’t under do it. Coming short of clean undies on a camping trip is no joke. Neither is rocking up in a cold spot shy of a few jerseys. You don’t want to pack your entire wardrobe, but you do need to be prepared. There are some great international weather sites that can give you an idea of what to pack. Always, always, throw in an extra pair of undies for each member of the family (it’s a very welcome surprise just when you think you’re clean out). While we love handing over the responsibility of packing to our older children, just give their bag a quick once over before you zip up.
10 Home sweet home
The last thing I need when I am away is a call to say that something has gone wrong at home. Find a house-sitter, dog-sitter or at least someone you can trust to keep an eye on the place while you are away. It saves you the worry, creates an impression that your house isn’t empty and ensures you have a hassle-free holiday.