The view from here
"Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion." - Leigh Hunt
Travel comes in many different forms and shapes. There are so many types of trips we can take and they are all not just influenced by “where” we go and “what” we do but by “who” we do it with.
Most of us have traveled with our family at some point, whether that’s just your immediate family members or extended aunts, cousins, etc.
While traveling with different kinds of personalities can be a challenge in itself, throw different ages in the mix and you’ve got yourself a lovely bunch of obstacles that need to be overcome to make this family trip enjoyable for everyone that’s part of it.
I, personally, have always enjoyed family trips but I remember the fond, nostalgic memories just as much as the challenges that came with it. Overcoming these challenges, however, is what makes for extra special memories and teaches you something about yourself and your loved ones alike.
Here are my top tips for making family holidays a success ;-)
1. Planning is key
Before you embark on your family adventure make sure you sit down together and talk about everyone’s expectations. Find out where everyone would like to go, what they would like to do and what they are planning to get out of this trip for themselves. Is it meant to be a relaxing beach holiday or is everyone keen to plan something more active? Does everyone prefer to be surrounded by nature and wants to go somewhere a little more remote or is this meant to be a city sightseeing trip? Make sure you take everyone’s feedback on board and try to find a compromise that everyone is happy with to avoid disappointment and resentment from the get-go. If you find everyonés interests are all over the map, try to pick somewhere that ticks a few boxes. There are plenty of cities for example that are situated close to the sea so you could easily combine a beach and city trip or plan a mountain escape where some of you can be active with hikes, mountain biking or winter sport activities while the rest of you lies on the lake or in front of the fireplace.
2. Choose accommodation wisely
Where you are staying is definitely a really important factor when it comes to family vacations. Are you for example all sharing one place or are you staying in a hotel in separate rooms? Is there enough space for each of you to retreat when you need some time to yourself? It’s important that you are not too much “in each others faces” to not cause unnecessary tension. Some of you might for example really enjoy their sleep ins while the rest of you likes to be up early to watch the sunrise. And likewise, some of you might need to go to bed early while the rest of you likes to stay up late. It’s important that your accommodation caters for everyone’s needs. After all, holiday is the time of year where everyone needs to be able to relax and recharge their batteries so it’s important that you are all able to do this while spending quality time together. We know cost is always a factor, so consider more affordable options like AirBnB to keep the budget in check. Or, better yet, go and visit that far flung family member that has been dying to host you!
3. How to get there
Chances are you and your family members don’t all live in the same place anymore. Make sure that your destination is easy enough to reach for all of you. If you all are traveling from different cities or even countries, it’s important that everyone is happy with the effort and money they need to put into getting to the agreed destination. When you are living in different countries, it can for example be nice “to meet in the middle”. Whereas if you live in the same city it is fun to meet up before you leave and all travel together. For example, book yourself on the same flight and meet at the airport to maximise your time together ;-)
4. Be open to new activities
While it is important that everyone has time to do the things they personally want to do, it is nice when you can plan some activities together. Going on holiday together is the perfect chance to spend quality time outside of everyone’s daily life routines and restrictions, and a great time to try something new and get yourself a little out of your comfort zone. You might have never been mountain biking but that doesn’t mean that you can’t join your brothers on the mountain bike tour they’ve organised. Or you might usually get bored lying on the beach but joining the rest of your family for a day of sand and sun will probably turn out better than you think - just bring some beach games and you’ll be fine ;-)
5. Mix old and young
Similar to the activities part, it is important to “mix the ages” and get everyone involved in some fun together. Don’t leave the grandparents behind on your outings. Just adjust your pace a little and to make it easier for them to experience something new with you. Take them for example to the local markets or for a nice long walk instead of a challenging hike. On the other hand, don’t leave the kids behind in some “children’s entertainment group” either. Take them to the waterpark and join them on the waterslides. It is just a few hours out of your day but it will fill them with excitement for weeks to come. Sharing experiences like this makes for some excellent bonding time.
6. Document everything
Most of you probably do this by default but I really can’t encourage you enough to document your family holidays properly :) No matter if it’s through photos or videos or travel journals, the memories you make when it’s all of you together are absolutely priceless. My family and I still get our old VHS recordings out every Xmas and immerse ourselves in all the nostalgia of our first holidays together. I also love photos of myself that my parents took on my very first holiday. And we will all forever treasure the memories we’ve captured of our grandparents’ last holidays with us. There is something really special about memories that you share while on holiday - it’s everyone’s favourite time of the year so you can capture the raw excitement and moments of endless bliss so far away from daily life hassles.
7. Talk about what really matters
Even if you might catch up with your family on a regular basis, how often do you talk about the “big things”? Holiday time is the perfect time to sit down with your loved ones and talk about the things that really matter. Spend some time with your family and don’t be afraid to dig deep.Talk to your mum about how she is coping with your sibling’s latest escapades or the difficulties she’s recently gone through with your grandma. Find out what your parents have on their personal “bucket lists” and encourage them to tick some of these things off. Chat to everyone about your family traditions and if anyone feels like you need to switch things up. For example, should you start a Secret Santa for Christmas instead of everyone having to buy presents for every single family member? Now is definitely the time to sit down and talk about the things that really matter.
I’m sure there are lots of other things that are important to consider when going on family holidays and I’m sure everyone has their personal traditions and tips and tricks for this very special type of travel. These are a few that I’ve learned while traveling with my loved ones over the years and I still love nothing more than embarking on a new adventure with everyone together.
Now that I live so far away from everyone, all the way in New Zealand, I still make sure that I visit home at least once a year. And every time I return, me and my family plan at least one trip together to get away from it all and spend quality time with each other for a few days.
I’m actually on a family trip in Dubai right now! We are all spending 5 days of desert fun together before we fly to Germany. And the last week of September, before I return to New Zealand, we all booked a family holiday together on our favourite German island - Langeoog. I am so excited for the memories we’ll make together and I’ll make sure to let you know how it goes ;-)
Until then, if you have tips and tricks of your own that you’d like to share with us. We’d be thrilled to hear from you!
Author - Natalie Gruner
Nat is one of the co-creators of Travelher and loves travel, family and all things beach. She is currently working in NZ and getting away for an adventure as often as she can.