A guest contribution by Uli Morant:
Going on vacation with your family is often a challenge. Getting all desires under one roof can turn into stress. Here are ten tips on how to stay relaxed on a vacation trip with children - from start to finish.
1. Where do we want to go?
Many others usually answer this question. Europe or long-term destination, round trip or a single destination, mountains or sea, city trip or nature, action or relaxation ...? Of course, it makes a difference whether you travel with small children or with school children - if only because of the vacation time. As long as the children are not yet going to school and you can flexibly switch to the low season, it is worth heading to favorite and long-distance destinations that are expensive or simply overbooked in the high season.
2. What do we need on site?
Child care, leisure activities, shopping, sporting opportunities, restaurants, sights ... A little preliminary research on the local conditions saves disappointment. In recent years, safety has also become an important issue for family travel. If you want to find out about the current political situation in a country, you can read the Travel warnings and recommendations check on the website of the Federal Foreign Office. When traveling long-distance, the vaccination protection of the whole family should also be checked again in advance: Are additional vaccinations necessary? The ecological conditions should also be considered when choosing a travel destination. As a holidaymaker and guest, you naturally want to leave the smallest possible ecological “footprint” in the country you are visiting. On the other hand, it also has purely pragmatic reasons, because it significantly clouds the carelessness in the “most beautiful weeks of the year”, for example when the water is turned off for a few hours every day because there is a water shortage throughout the country.
3. How do we want to live on vacation?
Accommodation during the holidays contributes significantly to the recreational value, after all, it should be a small temporary home. So what could go with the family? A cozy pension, the full pampering program in a beautiful hotel or would you prefer a holiday apartment that guarantees more independence?
There is also a good mix of accommodation that will satisfy all family members. Maybe there is only a small one Adventure stay in a tree houseto Yurt, on one Farm or in one Glamping-Tent as children have long wanted. So that parents can also optimally refresh their feel-good and relaxation accounts, a few more nights in a nice hotel with a spa area, sports facilities and delicious gastronomy or perhaps in a well-equipped holiday apartment are booked.
4. What do the children want on vacation?
Children are "creatures of habit". Once you have found a holiday destination that you like, you will want to go back again and again. Choosing the same family vacation destination that parents are happy with can also have advantages. You know everything, you know what you're getting into and your vacation can practically start on day one.
If you want to inspire the youngsters for a new goal, it is best to rely on the child's thirst for adventure. Can you find the country we are going to on the map? Where is it exactly? What language do you speak on site? What are the special features? What can you do there? Visit caves, go rafting tours on rivers, paddle a kayak in the lake, explore old castle ruins ...? The more colorful the description and the more the children are involved in the great travel adventure, the greater the enthusiasm for the shared experience.
5. How can we best use the time?
Anyone planning a longer trip will head for different destinations anyway in order to get to know as much as possible about the country and its people. But even on a two-week vacation, it can be worth considering a “destination combination”. First beach (maybe in the Tuscany), then mountains (in South Tyrol). Or city (Lisbon) and then nature (Algarve). Who to Britain will can, for example, take the train via Paris, do some sightseeing there and then take the four-hour onward journey by express train (TGV) to the sea to Quimper. The advantage of a change of scene is that the vacation time seems much longer because there are so many different impressions.
6. How long in advance should we plan?
Yes, spontaneity suffers a little when you travel with children. Especially in the holiday months like July and August, planning well in advance is necessary if you want to have the most beautiful guesthouse, the most beautiful holiday home, the most beautiful hotel. Even on a round trip, you can relax by booking the accommodation at the individual stopovers in advance. Nothing is worse than being turned away at reception with hungry, tired children in tow, because everything is already booked out.
7. What is it all about?
Diapers and sunscreen are now available in the most remote places in the world. But there are some things you should definitely take with you. Packing lists can significantly reduce the organizational stress in advance. Make sure you also think of a child-friendly first-aid kit.
Every child can pack their own personal favorite things in a small bag or backpack. Soft toys, comforters, radio plays, coloring books, pens ... With a few familiar things, the children settle in faster in their holiday home. A few additional games, books, comics, etc. also provide entertainment if the weather does not play along.
8. What do we want to experience?
Holidays, in particular, are the best time to try new things as a family and dare to have little adventures. Why not take a course in stand-up paddling, horse riding or tennis with your son or daughter? Joint activities give a lot of space for unforgettable memories and weld the family together. Anything that is fun comes into question, from a hike with llamas, surfing for the first time, to a climbing taster course or an overnight stay in the open air under the starry sky.
9. How do we reconcile children and culture?
“Not sightseeing again!” - a saying that parents keep reciting aloud from their little fellow travelers. Including the children in the daily schedule, according to the principle "Everyone can decide once", is the best way to prevent nagging. And of course, balance is important in daily vacation planning. Those who have visited churches and museums for half the day can be “rewarded” in the afternoon with a long swim in the pool or the sea. But that also applies the other way around: if parents have bravely fought their way through an amusement park for hours, they can also ask their children to take a little break.
10. How does the holiday feeling last as long as possible?
One would like to keep the positive mood and the feeling of wellbeing after the vacation for as long as possible for oneself and the family. It is therefore worthwhile to have an additional day or two at home and not fall back into the normal daily grind. Photo books are a wonderful way to relive the shared moments of the vacation and keep them in memory. Also: after the journey is before the journey. Scientists have found that the anticipation of the holiday has a positive effect on personal well-being. So it is never too early to plan your next vacation.
Uli Morant is editor-in-chief of Luna, the first fashion and lifestyle magazine for the family. In the magazine and online lunamag.de you will regularly find tips on traveling with children.
Photo credits: Steffen Jänicke