As a parent, I suppose I am not the only one who thinks of taking a ‘break’ for myself right after I come back home after a long family vacation. The reason is obvious. A full-fledged holiday with the entire family, especially when you have a teen and a pre-teen as your priority travelers, can be stressful. And I have no qualms about it. It’s okay to be there, feeling hassled. But if truth be told, there’s nothing like having a good time with your family and yet it could be daunting.
While traveling is an exciting and fun activity that you want to do with your closest ones, it can take quite a toll on your mind and body. I am no exception. But in recent times, I have learned from my mistakes and discovered ways to escape this post-vacation stress and keeping my sanity in place before, during, and after the travel. From the very first step of planning the destination, travel, stay, and other logistics, to the activities at the destination/s, I try to ensure that everything is put together comprehensively and carried out seamlessly so each one of us has their share of comfort, convenience, and enjoyment. And the rest, as they say, will be destiny.
Deciding a destination for all
First things first. My entire planning process starts by narrowing down the travelers. For instance, if it is me and my husband (while the children stay with their cousins) then we look at long road trips or a quiet beach holiday. When the children are included, then I make sure I ask my elder daughter about what kind of place would interest her. If she doesn’t want to go and visit historic towns or art museums, there’s no point getting her bored or frustrated on a family holiday. In such scenarios, we sit with the kids and ask them for what they would like to do and try to align our interests with them. Similarly, if my parents or in-laws are traveling, then I always ensure that I avoid cold places.
Finding the right time of vacation
Needless to say, as parents, our holidays revolve around the kids’ school schedules. Unless it is a family event or a special occasion, our annual vacations happen mostly around festival months. The summer months are usually harsh for road trips or long travels compared to the autumn months. Similarly, if we have a big group with a lot of aged people, then we avoid winter travel.
Dealing with the dreaded logistics
I believe that one of the most important aspects that we often tend to ignore (I did earlier) is how are we traveling. One thing I have learned when my children were toddlers, that never ever plan an extended travel period (unless of course absolutely required). The key is to avoid the long haul so there are fewer chances of a meltdown, especially with younger kids. Also, whenever we plan a road trip, my husband or I avoid driving, so we can pay attention to the rest of the journey or give company to the kids or our parents.
In this case, I must also say that the size of the car is also important. If it’s a drive over five or six hours, most of us tend to fall asleep. Hence we usually book a reliable outstation taxi service with a spacious and comfortable car so we are not cramped for space.
Putting together the A-list
For me, this refers to the ‘all-inclusive’ list. I know it sounds tedious but when you have children or elderlies traveling with you, you have to ensure that their needs are taken care of. I remember once my husband and I were on a road trip with our elder child when she was a few years old. We were traveling interstate through smaller towns and villages and she caught a cold and for miles, we were unable to find a pharmacy which had medicines for children. Since that experience, I have learned to carry every basic item like water, juices, fruits, light snacks, basic meds they need and things that will keep them occupied like books, games, and toys. It might sound like going on a backpacking trip, but trust me, it works.
Planning according to the number of people
The kind of things we would do with our kids on a vacation would be way different than what we would consider when their grandparents are traveling, or other relatives. Starting from the mode of travel, food-on-the-go, to activities at the destination, and so on. The bigger the group, the slower the pace. With big groups, the travel time would be slower because there would be more breaks. First of all, I always book an Innova if there are more than four people, to ensure a comfortable ride. Then I also look at things that each one of them would enjoy at the destination.
While all this sounds painstaking, there’s no greater joy than spending quality time with those I call family. After all, a little drama, a little insanity is what keeps us all alive and together!