I can see the appeal of an all inclusive luxury family hotel for a summer holiday and in fact I could really do with one right now! There are some incredible options that cover you from boxes of toys in your room to nappies and a crèche. These hotels leave you wanting for nothing and provide a real haven for families with young children.
However, sometimes we all long for a holiday with a little more adventure, that’s a little bit daring or even downright stupid some may say. I’m talking about a holiday where you move around, sampling the best of each place before moving on. It could be a classic road trip like Route 66, Italy by train or visiting a whole country with internal flights. Before children this may have seemed an exciting prospect but surely with children in tow it must be what nightmares are made of?
It doesn’t have to be! It can be so much fun, so rewarding to see your children soak up the different experiences and you’ll notice how adaptable they can be when you drop the routine and expectations. I have put together a step by step guide on how to get the most out of a multi destination holiday with kids. No two holidays will ever be the same when you plan this kind of trip so there is a lot to think about.
This is not a trip to plan on a whim, I suggest you allow plenty of time to get it perfect.
1. As with every trip I plan the first step is always to get inspired! Don’t think about the practicalities at this stage. Get on Instagram and on the old hashtags, think #familytravel #familyadventure and if you have somewhere in mind search for that. There are some fabulous travelling family accounts that also have blogs and you can guarantee a few of them will have visited the destination of your dreams. We have a few travel inspiration books but our favourite is Lonely Planet Where to Go and When. Not only is this fabulous to find places all over the World to visit but it leads on to the next step.
2. Confirm your dates and destination and budget. Identify your destinations on a shortlist and check they fit with the time you want to travel. If you are more flexible this is fantastic as you aren’t restricted. It is important you look at the best times of year to visit a destination, particularly with children as weather and crowds can change drastically. Always keep your budget in mind. Keep this in mind once you get into the details and trial adding in potential flights on your dates so you can keep an eye on it. Then you should be left with how much you want to spend a night, car hire etc.
3. Start to research your chosen destination in more detail. Family travel blogs are fantastic for this, I’ve even found how to do the easiest family trail to Macchu Picchu which as some of you will know is quite the journey. A common misconception is that such destinations are unsuitable for travel with children but please try not to feel restricted by this or people telling you that you’re crazy! There are actually very few destinations around the World that really aren’t suitable for children due to conflict in the country, potential tropical illnesses you would rather avoid such as malaria etc. Now is the time to decide what is doable for your family and what destination you think will suit you best!
4. Put together your must do list for the country, area, state etc you are choosing to visit. Write down on post it notes everywhere and everything that appeals to you about your destination and then you can start to get together your rough itinerary and try moving the post it notes around or leaving some out that aren’t a great fit. Don’t forget the aim is for everybody to have an epic and memorable time – not to rush around trying to do it all. Even if you are planning an adventure holiday still plan for more downtime than you think you will need. There will be no fun with tired ratty kids or parents!
5. Logistics. This will vary drastically depending on your destination, you may be driving between hotels every few nights, getting seaplanes and island hopping or be living on your transport like an RV. We find it especially helpful with a baby and toddler to never drive more than two – three hours in a stint and ideally stick to one journey like this a day. Sometimes it can’t be helped to include a longer car journey or two. If you have a long way to go it can help to leave around four in the morning so the kids sleep and then you can fit in a longer drive but try to limit extremes like this to only once a week or trip.
6. Finalise your plans. Ensure everybody is happy with the plans and budget. Iron out anything you aren’t sure on, get an idea of what accommodations you are after etc. For example, perhaps you would like some basic hotels and a then a couple slightly more luxurious places with a great pool for down time. Research the nitty gritty on Trip advisor and your favourite travel blogs. Don’t forget bloggers have first hand experience and often fantastic hacks and tips!
7. Get booking! If money is no object and luxury travel is your thing travel agents such as Kuoni and Scott Dunn will be able to help you plan a bespoke trip. However, assuming this isn’t the case and you would like full control over your dream holiday you can use a host of different websites to plan different aspects of it. Just ensure you keep a spreadsheet and folder so you know where you booked each aspect of the trip and when you need to pay as well as any ATOL certificates and contact numbers. Comparison sites we like to use include Expedia, Sky scanner, Trip advisor etc. You may sometimes find you can book some of your trip in a package with a travel agent to save money so if budget is a restriction for you all I can say is compare, compare, compare. We particularly love Airbnb as you can find unique stays around the World at often incredible prices and with the personal touches hotels often lack. A fantastic family friendly option! Responsible travel is also a really wonderful company to source a perfect trip, especially so if you like the idea of eco travel, unusual options and a skilled team that can take care of everything for you! Their website is inspiring and their ethics are appealing. Highly recommended.
8. Congratulations! Your holiday is booked, not much left to do now, right? Wrong. You may have perfected your logistics, found family friendly hotels and booked excursions but to make you trip run smoothly and take the stress away I highly recommend planning each day. This may not appeal to everybody but we all know spontaneity can be tough (impossible) with kids sometimes and knowing you haven’t overfilled each day, have somewhere to eat and an activity planned is essential in my book. There are two options here. For those like me who like to have it all worked out for sanity’s sake I create a simple spreadsheet with the following headings per day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, activities AM, activities PM. You may want to have different headings depending on your preferences, for us food is crucial as we are big foodies and also a vegan family so we always like to know we’ll have a good option available and love to sample the best vegan food we can get our hands on in every country. If this is too intensive for you, you can get those post it notes with ideas of activities on you did earlier and write them down on a sheet of paper, you may also like to jot down some restaurants, beaches, sights etc so when you are there you can pick and choose what you fancy. Although this option may work a treat with older children I would definitely recommend the former if you have younger children or babies.
9. You can relax a bit now but please don’t leave packing to the last minute or for that matters overpack. I am going to be doing a separate post on our next trip in November on how to pack for a multi destination trip as there is no need to haul all the suitcases out every time you change location. You may like to watch my current packing for kids video here which has a handy hack for bagging up outfits that is trialled and tested and works a dream. If your trip is quite long plan to wash all of your clothes part way through so you can research them and therefore need to pack less. Don’t forget to pack some of the kids favourite snacks as you may not be able to get hold of much in some locations and always let them bring a few familiar toys to help them settle in, particularly helpful on a road trip that sees you changing hotel every couple of nights.
10. Time to go! Keep all your documents together, have everything ready to go on the date of your travel and enjoy your stress free holiday! Keep calm and relaxed on travel days, no need to sweat it. Enjoy every moment and make unbeatable memories together.
Thank you for reading! I really hope these tips have been helpful, I know it can seem a little daunting to plan an epic trip especially when you’ll have people questioning your craziness but it shouldn’t be. If you follow these simple steps everything should run super smoothly and there will be no regrets! I’d love to know what kind of holidays are your families favourite? Does multi destination suit you?