When people think of family vacations, they often envision hot, boring car rides to the home of grandparents as the kids scrabble in the backseat, or pre-planned and packaged Disney vacations in massive, sterilized compounds. These types of family vacations have been marketed to us for years, and we fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Until we realized there’s another way. Travelling to far-flung, overseas destinations doesn’t need to stop when the kids start coming. While it can take a bit more planning and finesse, taking your family on an overseas vacation will be an amazing experience of bonding and learning that you can all share together.
Where to go
Consider the tastes of each member of your family when deciding on a destination. If your children are very young, look to a spot that has rest points and a healthy transit system to allow them to come along without getting tired out. Your teenage son may not be as enthralled with the ancient remains of Rome as you are, so consider incorporating aspects into the trip that will appeal to them. While you may scoff at kids’ lack of interest in art and architecture, know that most kids can’t deny natural wonders or locations with lots of recent pop culture interests, such as the filming locations of Game of Thrones in Malta.
Where to stay
While you may not have to go to a locked down resort, travelling with children does require a bit more awareness of your surroundings. Grubby hostels down narrow alleyways may have been for you travelling alone in your 20s, but won’t work as well with a toddler or pre-teen. Instead, opt to stay in hotels with a bit more creature comforts that can promise safety and cleanliness. These can be traditional resorts or spots like the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! in Pretoria, Menlyn, which have eat-in options onsite and pools to allow you a day off from exploring. We do suggest not dining in all the time though!
What to do
If your children vary in age, this can be a constant heartache. To avoid days of disappointment, allow each child to choose one thing they want to do out of list supplied by you. Keep their interests and tastes in mind while creating the list and be sure not to bellyache to them if you don’t love the Miraikan’s robots in Tokyo.
A vacation is about experiencing things together, but also about teaching your kids patience and compromise. It can be frustrating to put together vacation plans only to have a sullen teenager shoot them down, but while you may be thinking that they are hating the experience, you would be amazed with how often teenagers remember these vacations years later with fondness.
For younger children, remember that they are still imbued with that beautiful sense of wonder, so try to find locations and things to see that will appeal to that vast imagination. Cinderella’s castle, anyone?