How do you plan a family holiday? There are many ways to plan a family holiday, and each way will suit different families. However, this is how we go about getting a plan for our family holiday.
My brother always said that planning a trip was half the fun. We were in our late twenties then, we’d been travelling for years, our friends were travellers, all we did was live, breath, and talk travel. The world was our oyster and I don’t think we conceived that there would be a time when spending hours poring over books (or nowadays hours on the internet) would be an impossible luxury.
Fast forward to the present – where time is a precious commodity – and the information on the internet providing way too much information, this is my how to guide on how to plan a family holiday.
Step 1: Plan a Family Holiday: Where do you get Travel Inspiration?
In our case, we have a bucket list of destinations as long as our arm… Some places are carefully saved for “when the kids are bigger” (for example, doing some of New Zealand’s famous treks) and others are currently “out of our budget” like Bhutan.
For most people choosing their destination is a long term task, and this blog assumes that you have chosen the area or countries you wish to visit.
Step 2. Plan a Family Holiday: Set Parameters!
These are the most common parameters for limiting a family holiday
- the number of days you have available.
One of the above will be your limiting factor! Some of us are time poor (or with children’s schooling to consider) while others have got more time but less money. One way or the other, you need to set the parameters for your trip – what is the budget going to be, or how much time do you have?
3. Plan a Family Holiday: What can you feasibly do?
When I am about to plan a family holiday this is the step that trips me up as I see an amazing list of places to visit in any place and want to do it all. ( Pre Kids I was always the type of traveller that was busy from dawn to dusk squeezing in museums etc.)
With kids, and with the family in tow, the ‘what can we feasibly do’ question depends on a number of factors, including:
- the age of your kids – for smaller kids, do they need a day time sleep, how far will they be able to walk?
- how you personally view ‘a family holiday’ – how much down time is needed.
- As the kids get older, what are their interests etc.
It was a large mindset change for this Mumma to transfer from Solo Backpacker to Family traveller, and now (7 years into parenthood) understand that while you might not see so much the kid’s perspective will bring a great deal of joy to our visit. It’s not just about the places you have been, but the experiences you have as a family.
What can you feasibly do could more concisely be described as establishing your Trip Pillars – what are the things that you must do, the things that you MUST see. The things that are not negotiable. This might take significant amount of time and research to figure these out.
Step 4: Establishing the ‘trip pillars’ / the things you must see.
This step can be done fairly quickly – or in a fairly lengthy process. It’s really up to you, and how much time you have; how easily you process information.
- Travel Agency Magazines.
I pop into a travel agent and pick up those glossy brochures with 7, 14 and 21 day tours included in them. I’ve got a couple of favourite travel providers that get a bit off the beaten track and consider what these 2-3 companies offer for the destination I am interested in, and how they have managed the timing. This is a quick and easy way to establish what these ‘tried and tested’ tour companies consider the major sights in an area, and how they create the overall itinerary. Plus, I can spend months browsing itineraries.
2. Lonely Planet guidebook
If I am certain on my destination, I will go out and buy a Lonely Planet. If I am less certain, I will ask my local library to order it in. The Lonely Planet is a tried and tested information provider. They work to a certain formula. You might not always like their information but in terms of describing major sights, and itineraries we find it to be 95% reliable and presented according to the same formula, worldwide.
A combination of Lonely Planet guidebook and Travel Agency magazines gives us a solid foundation before launching into the murky waters of the internet.
3. The internet, blogs and reviews
We are aspiring travel bloggers, it is true. That doesn’t mean that we find family travel blogs very useful at this stage of the trip. Usually rich in detail and with a lot of opinion, family travel blogs vary widely in usefulness but also result in one big problem: information overload. it is really hard to figure out what is important, and what is not.
I’ve also patiently read to the bottom of family travel blogs to find that the author spent a day in a place… which is not enough in our opinion to really provide sound advice. Therefore Family Travel blogs only serve to confuse at this stage in the process.
Trip Advisor is helpful, but its just a bunch of people’s opinions. It must be taken with a grain of salt.
4. A specialist travel agent
A specialist travel agent is worth their weight in gold. However, we believe that before going to any travel agent you need to know what you basically want to do, and what your travel style is. (Mumma has worked as a specialist Peru travel agent for over 10 years, so somewhat biased). However, a specialist travel agent who knows the ins and outs of a country can provide fantastic advice that is not ‘cookie cutter’ but genuinely tailored to your needs.
Ok, Once you have the following points established…
- Amount of time available + budget
- the Trip Pillars
- A basic itinerary
… you can move onto How to plan Your Family’s Perfect Holiday. Now we are getting into the nitty gritty.
Booked and ready to go? Pre departure checklists
Our family travel checklists break down the steps necessary to get ready to travel
One month until departure>>> Family Travel Checklist & 1 month to departure
In the week before departure>>
In the 24 hours before departure