We just got back from a whirlwind family holiday down the Garden Route of South Africa … it was great to spend time just the 4 of us exploring a beautiful part of our amazing country!
Here are some tips to remember when going away with little people:
1. You are not going to relax if you have kids under 5 (or 10?) so re-adjust your expectations before you leave and realise the time away is going to be busy! Relaxing holidays are a thing of the past or the distant future!
2. Packing is the worst part of going away BUT it is always worth it. I seem to ask myself this every time I am packing the toiletry bag or the first aid kit or the 4th bag of clothes or the kids entertainment for the car or the snack box….
3. Always pack more snacks for the journey than you think you will need (and keep a few stashed in a secret place!) because someone (most likely the husband) will finish all the biltong half an hour into the trip.
4. Choose the scenic route even if it is a bit longer – so often on car trips with kids you are tempted to take the shortest, fastest option but you miss so much that way. Start your holiday from the moment you leave home and stop often! We drove up on the R62 and passed through some stunning mountain passes, met some wonderfully eccentric characters and saw the most beautiful scenery scattered with bursts of colourful flowers.
5. Self-catering is cheaper BUT if you can find accommodation that provides some of your meals it will be totally worth it!! Getting back from a busy day at 6pm and not having to think about making supper or cleaning up afterwards is a holiday in itself
6. Most often the kids prefer the cheap entertainment options (such as playing on the beach with nothing more than a stick to write in the sand) to the expensive, organised tours. The highlight of our trip was not Monkeyland but stumbling across a small dairy farm during milking and getting hands on experience milking a cow and sampling the farm fresh milk, cheese and butter! Priceless!
7. A toddler will never do what you want them to do – at home or on holiday. Don’t expect your kids to behave differently on holiday sometimes their behaviour can be worse for a variety of reasons – feeling insecure because of a different environment, too much time in the company of the same people, being stuck in the car seat for too long. Take an extra dose of patience with you for the trip – esp dads or grandparents, who aren’t used to spending 24/7 with the kids for longer than a weekend!
8. Be prepared – pack entertainment for the journey include a few new surprises such as lucky packets, a new game or book or dvd for the portable dvd player and save these for a few hours into the trip, take all medication you use regularly and anything you might think you need in the dead of night in a small town, get suggestions of places to visit or kid-friendly restaurants before you leave town – nothing drives me more crazy than trying to decide what to do in the morning and wasting time deliberating over the decision or not knowing where to have lunch with nagging, hungry kids.
9. Be flexible – have a plan but be prepared to change it… often things don’t work out like you wanted them to, especially with kids in the mix, but for everyone to enjoy the holiday try to be relaxed about changes to the schedule. Take unscheduled detours to discover new places and you might just find the best kept secret of your trip! Instill a love of exploring and discovery in your children.
10. Cherish the time with your family, you will have ups and downs, it won’t be perfect, but wherever you go and whatever it costs – just go – the memories you make will last a lifetime! Take lots of photo’s to look back on and reminisce. And when you get home start planning for the next family holiday – be it in a few months or years. Family holidays rank highly in forming bonds and many adults can recall their childhood holidays clearly years later. It may be busy, hectic, hard work, expensive BUT it will always be worth it.
I hope I’ve inspired you to start planning your next family getaway… we are planning another one for next year and looking forward to discovering some new parts of our beautiful country – South Africa. There are so many options it’s hard to know which to choose!
Where is your favourite family holiday destination?