Gone are the days when family travel was about paying a customary visit to the ‘granny’s place’. By pushing the boundaries of budget and time, families these days are more than willing to explore different cultures and as a result heading to exotic foreign locals and summer vacation being the preferred time to do so.
After all, nothing can take away the charm of watching your little toddler relishing a local dessert in a new city, your partner appreciating the beauty of ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’, a kid celebrating the joy of spotting the big
cat on a wildlife safari or quietly gazing at the Northern Lights; family vacations are exhilarating and enriching.
When individuals of different age sensibilities travel together, any carelessness at the planning stage can result in a situation when ‘dreams go awry’ leaving everyone frustrated in a foreign land. A stress-free vacation is like a journey that begins even before you arrive at the airport.
Few things one must consider before going on a family vacation to a foreign destination:
1. Travel itinerary
For most travelers, creating the perfect travel itinerary is the best part of planning. Travelling with family is all about coming together of family members and their innate tastes and preferences about life and things. While the children may want to visit an adventure/amusement park, your history-freak partner may want to visit a museum or an ancient relic located on the outskirts of the city.
This is when a travel itinerary comes handy when the target is to fulfil everyone’s wish list. A well-organized travel itinerary will ensure that all the activities and sightseeing remain on schedule and everyone’s preferences is rightly taken care of. A few internet searched and books such as the Lonely Planet guides can help you figure the perfect itinerary for your vacation.
2. Passports, visas, tickets and other documents
Before heading to the airport, it is important to ensure all the travel documents are in order. Check your passports for the expiry date– if it’s before or during the trip, you will have to renew it. Make sure you have valid visas for the country you will be visiting. For your maiden foreign travel, check whether you have to arrange visa before entering the country or if there is visa-on-arrival.
If sightseeing is on your to-do list on your foreign travel, you must invest little time to research if rail system is feasible option to get you around the city. In many Asian countries and Europe, one can easily pick a rail pass and get access to unlimited passage on local railway network.
Keep all your travel-related documents like boarding passes, hotel accommodation bookings, rail passes etc. in a safe place. Also save a digital copy of the important travel docs.
Depending on the travel destination, the traveler may be required to produce a proof of return at the time of entry. It’s always wise to keep your return ticket handy.
When travelling abroad, you’ll be likely to pay a hefty sum while exchanging the currency at the airport, so sort it out elsewhere. It’s good to shop around and scout for the best deal. Don’t shy away from bargaining as there is often a better rate on offer.
4. Travelling with kids?
Travelling with kids can be an intimidating prospect especially when there is a toddler or two in tow. Thus, it's important to plan ahead and minimize the risk of tantrums thrown at your way by kids to maximize the chances of enjoying a fun-filled and relaxing holiday with family.
If the kids will be there on holiday, it is important to check if the accommodation you’ve booked is child-friendly and if you’ll need to bring along anything that’s not available (for kids/toddlers) in your country of travel. Find out if the water at your destination is suitable for the kids, and always make it a point to carry a few snacks to beat untimely hunger pangs.
As soon as the flight lands at foreign destination, even before we check in to the hotel in a real sense of word, we check in to the Facebook while posting a well-rehearsed selfie announcing our arrival in the new city. So, while anyone can just hold up their camera phone and snap a pic or two – what counts is a good picture. Say you’re headed to a wildlife safari holiday, the thrill of spotting a big cat is one moment you would want to preserve for the lifetime.
A good quality travel photography equipment like camera, selfie-stick, backpack, batteries, chargers etc. is all that you need to save such cherished familial moments for eternity. However, ensure that all the travel accessories and equipment is packed safely.
6. Vaccinations and Medical Supplies
Up to date with your immunizations? It is important to visit your GP and share with him/her your travel destination and find out if there is a need for any vaccination. While travelling with children and/or senior citizen, this becomes even more crucial.
Pack all the essential medicines and other supplies to avoid any medical situation in a foreign country.
7. Travel Insurance
Arranging a family vacation can be stressful enough as the lack of travel insurance cover may simultaneously add to the burden. Thus, buy suitable travel insurance
as soon as you get the tickets booked to avoid losing out if the trip gets cancelled or postponed.
And when travelling with family, one can easily buy a family travel insurance plan
As the name suggests, family travel insurance aims to cover families travelling together, and generally it covers two adults and children up to the age of 18. This varies from insurer to insurer so check if there are any/no restrictions on- age and number of family members covered. There can be a different set of instructions for a single-parent family, remember to check them out.
If you travel more than twice a year, an annual multi-trip family travel insurance policy
is the most cost effective option when you want to arrange comprehensive protection for all the family members at an affordable price.
Check out the countries where travel insurance is mandatory.
How do you plan your family foreign travel? Share in comments.