When we started travelling with our kids, we were clueless. We jumped in with both feet and found ourselves in the deep end more often than not. Fortunately, nothing life threatening happened and we all made it home in one piece, but it made me realize that maybe we aren’t the only ones who found family travel a bit daunting.
So, if you have never tried travelling with kids but you are keen to try, here are a few guidelines we have picked up along the way. And anyone with any family travel experience will tell you that the correct word here is guidelines. Rules and kids rarely result in a positive happy outcome, not without a lot of conflict, anyway.
Let’s start with location shall we. Our first weekend away was at calm and tranquil Klondyke Farm. Beautiful, serene and miles from anywhere really interesting. In one way it was a good thing to be stuck without reception or TV because it forced us to explore the farm on foot, but that didn’t take very long which is why we set out to look for the Tankwa Padstal the next day.
For our next trip we found a gorgeous chalet right on the beach, which was a nice distance from a town. Except that town was explored within 2 hours which meant we set off for another road trip within a road trip in order to see more. Still, nothing wrong with that.
It was our trip to Hermanus where we learnt how to select a backpackers with a family room, check in and leave the car behind for the weekend while we explored the town on foot. There is nothing better than a walking tour to help you to get to know the town. Our guided walking tour of Port Elizabeth was filled with so much information that I am still processing (which is why I still haven’t written that blog post – sorry Nelson Mandela Bay!)
In a nutshell, if you are not the type of person who researches their location to death and pretty much lets their wallet do the talking when it comes to planning a budget holiday, prepare yourself to roll with the punches and just go with the flow. Each location will have its positives and negatives so an open mind will be your best friend to get the most out of your trip.
What to pack
Resist the urge to pack everything and the kitchen sink. I promise the place you have booked your accommodation, will have it’s own sink. Your must have list will vary based on the type of accommodation you have selected. Self-catering? They will have everything you need. Maybe just pack a good knife and a nice big pot.
Backpackers? The communal kitchen will have most of what you need but consider joining the motley crew around the fire for a braai and conversation. Hotel? Arm yourself with your credit card or get creative and visit as many restaurants, cafés and coffee shops as possible.
If you have access to a kitchen, take breakfast porridges/cereals with long life milk and a tub of sugar and the kids will be set for the first few hours while you try and work out where the grown ups will be eating that morning.
When it comes to clothes, a change of clothes for each day (2 sets for each child per day), open shoes, closed shoes and a warm jersey/jacket with a hood. Pyjamas, toiletries, underwear (2 sets for each child per day), socks, swimming costumes, towels and that’s it – you’re all set.
In conclusion, accept the fact that this season of travel is just that, a season. The kids will be grown before you know it and what they will remember won’t be the awesome outing you planned. They will remember the time it rained so much that all you could do was snuggle in bed together telling stories or that time their brother was bitten by the tiny crab they were trying to catch for lunch.
So, what are you waiting for? Go and make memories.