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Planning a Family Holiday? Think Destination, Downtime and Smart Packing

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Remember that time of year when the sun begins to shine more warmly, and the leaves appear on the trees? Yes, it’s spring! With spring comes the time to start gardening, dig out the sunscreen, put your heavy wool sweaters into storage and start planning your summer holidays. Whether you are a family of seven or a single parent, planning (and enjoying) a family holiday can sometimes be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to enjoying your family vacation is good planning, so here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful family vacation.

Choose a Destination With Something For Everyone

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can certainly aim to please everyone at some point. Whether you are staying with family or friends, a hotel or an all-inclusive resort or cruise, it is possible to schedule in times for each person to enjoy a special activity or attraction that she wants to see. Especially with young children, it is easy to overload on kid-friendly attractions, family restaurants and cartoon-themed amusement parks. Taking shifts with your partner, a traveling companion, or using a babysitting service in order to get some time to take in adult attractions can help to maintain balance.

Schedule Downtime

Holidays are times to get out and enjoy yourselves, but it is all too easy to feel pressured to see and do everything possible during your short vacation time. Taking on too much can prevent you from enjoying the things you are doing. By scheduling some downtime, either together as a family or in shifts, can help keep your vacation a restful and enjoyable experience instead of one which will leave you returning to work more stressed than when you left.

Travel Smart

The time to make sure all your paperwork is in order is well in advance of your actual date of travel, so that if you need to get a passport, locate a lost birth certificate or have a letter of permission notarised you’ll be able to do so before you go. Depending on where you are traveling and whether you will be crossing borders by car or plane there are different rules, so be sure to find out whether you’ll need a full passport or just a piece of photo ID before you arrive at customs. Flying with kids can be an extra challenge, but a cleverly stocked carry on can make a big difference.

In addition to travel documents, make sure you bring any medications and a copy of your prescription, a small selection of favorite toys or entertainment for the kids, and don’t forget your child’s lovey or security blanket if they’ve got one.

Finding the right balance between a quiet retreat and an excitement-filled adventure will depend a lot on your own family and the people in it. No matter what kind of plans you make, planning some activities in advance, taking some time out to rest and researching passport and visa requirements in advance will help to ensure a smooth family holiday experience.

Originally published on Suite101.com on April 20, 2008