Picture the scene…
You’re on your way to your dream family holiday, cruising at 35,000 feet high in a comfy airplane and enjoying a chilled glass of champers with your better half, while your kids are peacefully plugged into their iPads in the row behind.
But this idyllic scenario only comes after months of tense familial negotiations, pinpoint planning and budget balancing – not to mention running the gauntlet of an often tricky pre-flight period when unforeseen delays or complications can bring underlying tensions back to boiling point.
However, with plenty of prior research and the agile ability to adjust your plans, you can ensure that you take off on any family trip feeling calm, cool and collected.
With that in mind, here are five hassle-free hints for your family vacay.
1. Independent travel
When you’re traveling with kids in tow, the appeals of a major resort are manifold – for starters, they’re tried and tested in terms of safety, customer service and overall standards.
But according to this Telegraph piece on DIY vacations, independent travel is much more of a gift to your family because you can arrange your own itinerary, immerse yourselves in the local culture and make serendipitous discoveries together – all of which evoke an authentic sense of adventure.
And when you get home, you’ll be able to regale friends and family with tales of getting a genuine taste and feel for your holiday location, much to their envy!
2. Family-friendly airlines
While every airline undoubtedly tries its best to satisfy family travelers, some carriers seem to excel in making every member of your brood feel a little bit special.
According to a recent Inc. article, the most family-friendly US airline is Southwest – based on criteria like advance seat assignment availability, early family boarding, seat comfort, kid-friendly cuisine and entertainment. However, JetBlue, Hawaiian and Alaska aren’t far behind in the rankings, so you can feel confident boarding any of their planes too.
Beware that quality can vary from time to time though – so always check a reliable ratings site like Skytrax for the latest reviews to keep up to date.
3. Kid-friendly airports
If you’re lucky enough to have a choice of convenient departure airports, you’re just as well choosing the one that’s rated the most kid-friendly.
Travel app TripIt’s list of top family airports includes Philadelphia, which is praised for its plentiful nursing rooms and children’s entertainment, and Portland, which boasts a fairly new kids’ play space and a microcinema that screens films by local creators that are suitable for kids of all ages. Parents are always relieved when airports are well-appointed with family amenities, so check out yours beforehand to make the wait for your flight as pleasant as possible.
And if all else fails, be sure that you’re well versed in good old fashioned games to while away the time – never underestimate the entertainment value of a high-energy of eye-spy or hangman session.
4. Family travel tech
While you might caution your teenagers for spending too much time plugged into electronic devices at home, they’re a real bonus in placating pugnacious teen travelers.
So whether your kids prefer a traditional tablet or snazzy device like a Nintendo Switch, make sure they’re fully charged and packed with the latest games and apps in order to avoid any complaints about airport boredom. While your children are lost in an electronic world of their own, you can finally start switching off and moving your mindset to holiday mode.
But travel tech can also make vacationing smoother for the whole family – invest in useful gadgets like the One Mini multilingual assistant, Peak Design Travel Tech Pouch and Somewear Satellite Hotspot so that you won’t be bereft of home comforts while you’re in exotic climes.
5. Airport parking
Our final tip for a calm family vacay is simple yet superb.
Ditch your plans for saving cash by traveling to the airport via public transport, because the few dollars and cents you preserve will pale in comparison to the tension and anxiety associated with herding a family group on board packed and sweaty trains and buses.
Let’s be clear – if you insist on travelling with the masses, you’ll possibly arrive with your clothing in tatters, your stress levels through the roof and your relationship hanging by a string. And with this type of nerve-jangling pre-flight experience, your chances of a calm and collected holiday are in serious jeopardy.
Instead, book US airport parking on Looking4.com and drive there in the safety and comfort of your own vehicle – your group will arrive feeling cool as cucumbers and unnecessary arguments will be avoided. Plus, when you arrive home after recharging your collective batteries, you’ll simply hop in your ride and hightail it home.
Traveling with your family is never easy and the larger the tribe, the more complex the different dynamics often are, and this can be further compounded by the slings and arrows of modern travel misfortune.
However, we hope that our advice has provided some useful hints on making the entire experience as smooth and steady as possible – or at least minimizing the impact of unforeseen events like delays and disruptions.
Follow our five hassle-free hints and your next family vacay might just become the blissful break which makes all of your workaday endeavors worthwhile and sets up some sacred time to bond brilliantly with your nearest and dearest – you can thank us later!
So ends our list, but share your own family vacay tips in the comments section.