Family vacations are a surefire way to make memories. There’s an entire world to explore, and nothing broadens young horizons like seeing and experiencing new places. Unfortunately, even luxury travel can occasionally be stressful, especially when you’re traveling with the whole family. While there’s no way to plan for every contingency, there are still a lot of things you can do to prevent meltdowns before they start.
Here are five tips to help keep your trip memorable for the right reasons only.
Double-Check Your Schedule
There’s the time of your flight when you book it, and then there’s the time of your flight after x, y, and z happens! Be sure to check your airline’s website, sign up for email alerts, and follow them on social media in order to stay on top of any time changes. Remind your kids that being flexible with their time is part of the travel process.
If you want to run on your own schedule once you get to your destination, consider hiring a car and driver to meet you at the airport an accompany your family on your adventures.
Go First Class
If you’re worried about flying first class with the whole family, worry no more! Kids are allowed in first class with very few exceptions, and some airlines even offer perks for young passengers like swag bags and special baby meals.
Both you and your kids will appreciate the extra space; combine the extra room with the added peace and quiet and there’s a better chance of getting some sleep! Most long-haul flights are designed for a full night’s sleep, so don’t forget to pack that favorite pillow or blanket to increase young travelers’ chances of getting some rest.
Try to Prevent Noise…And Don’t Beat Yourself Up if it Happens Anyway.
It’s every long-distance traveler’s worst fear: the screaming child who seems like they’ll never be quiet, even worse when that child happens to be yours. While some noise is inevitable – kids are kids, after all, and most people understand this within reason – there are ways to keep it at an acceptable level and avoid the silent (or not-so-silent) loathing from everyone else aboard.
Everyone’s ears are subject to the pressure changes that come with flying, which can lead to discomfort and pain in kids of all ages. If you’re traveling with babies or toddlers, let your little one have something to suck on during takeoff and landing to help deal with air pressure changes. Bottles, pacifiers, or a preferred item that’s not a choking hazard are all good options for babies, while kids over 3 may be able to suck on hard candy or chew gum. If you want to give your kids a painkiller, be sure to check with their pediatrician for recommendations on brands and dosages.
Relax the Rules a Little.
We’re not advocating anarchy, here, more like a slight loosening of the grip. Put aside that time limit for tablets and mobile devices during arduous stretches of air travel, ration out special treats or little presents as rewards for good behavior, and let your hair down a little. Vacations are, after all, an extraordinary circumstance, and your kids won’t suddenly turn into spoiled brats because you gave them Skittles for remembering to say “excuse me” to their fellow travelers.
Just like in other areas of parenting, consistency, boundaries, and communication are key. Make sure your kids know what’s expected of them beforehand, and remind them as needed.
Speaking of Communication…
Talk to your kids about the trip before you leave. Use this as an opportunity to make them feel involved in the planning process while giving them some idea of what to expect when they get there. Taking away the fear of the unknown will help reduce your child’s stress while simultaneously helping to prevent meltdowns. Plus, it’s a great way to bond! Read books together, look at neat pictures, sample some food from your destination if it’s available in your area…there are plenty of ways to prep for your trip with help from your favorite young assistant.
BONUS TIP: Read up on your airport! Whether it’s a great lounge, a play area, or an educational exhibit, many of today’s international airports now cater to travelers of all ages. Check out Bébé Voyage’s Airport Map which lists kid and family amenities in global airports before you leave and see if there’s anything to keep your kids entertained en route to vacation.
Family vacations can be unforgettable bonding experiences that bring everyone closer and provide stories for years to come. Remember to stay optimistic, stay calm, and take a deep breath now and then – your family will thank you for it.
Pedro Zapata has been in luxury hospitality for the past 25 years. During his career, he has been part of luxury brands such as Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Trump International, Exclusive Resorts, and the Bentley Group. Today he is one of the founders of Eterno Escapes, a luxury vacation rental company. He is the proud father of 3 beautiful children, Leonardo, Allegra, and Micaela.