Researching the perfect holiday destination for your family can be stressful, time consuming and frustrating to name a few. Trust me, I have spent many many hours researching where to go, when to go, where to stay, how to get there, how to get around, where to sleep…..you get the drift. We are not the type of family that relies on the hotels and resorts to entertain our children, nor are we the type to sit by the pool and read books. When we travel, we try and do it as the locals do. So don’t expect kids clubs and drivers in the following information.
My top 10 trips for researching the perfect child friendly holiday.
Choosing a destination
Traveling to an unfamiliar holiday destination may seem scary, considering you now have little ones in tow. How do you know the country you will be travelling to caters for kids? One thing that is always in the back if my mind is that wherever we are going, there are kids who live there, it is just the familiarities from where we are from that we need to adjust to.
Things I like to research when selecting which country to go to is:
- The transport
- Currency exchange rate
- Flight sale
- How many flights to get there
- Flight times – how long will it take
- Weather/climate at the time of holiday
- Zika (if pregnant or planning on getting pregnant)
Finding cheap flights
Coming from Australia, the distance to travel anywhere overseas is very far and expensive! So trying to save costs on flights is a big part of researching our trip. Here are some tips for finding cheap flights. Alot of the flight aggregators generally do not include the cheaper airlines.
Always compare costs with low cost airlines and regular airlines. Sometimes it can work out to be more expensive with a low cost airline as you have to add food, seat selection, bassinet, luggage etc If you are not fussed on when you would like to travel, wait till the low cost airline has a sale and select the sale dates.
Delete your cookies are each flight search. Although there is no evidence that clearing cookies will lower flight prices, there is no harm in trying if you want to be extra sure. Your browser handles cookies and you can change your settings as you please.
Google flights has a calendar of how much the flights cost on each day. This has also saved us hundreds of dollars as we may fly the day before/day after and it can be a lot less.
Things to do
When finding the right holiday we need to ensure that there are age appropriate things to do with the kids. We love bushwalking/hiking/trekking so finding tracks that we can take our kids on in backpack carriers is important.
Are the beaches full of sea lice at that time of the year? There is no point going on a beach holiday if you can’t swim at the beach.
We like to stay in homestays and Airbnb’s if possible. For the same price as a hotel room, you can get a kitchen, 2 bedrooms and living space. We find that it is also more person focused, therefore the owner has more time to help you plan your daily activities. We have made many lifelong friends from homestay/airbnb accommodation owners and their families. Hotels are great as they have all the added extras like play rooms, buffet breakfasts, airport pickup/dropoff etc, but with two young kids still having day naps, I would prefer not to be stuck in a small hotel room where possible.
We often research how to get around each country to try and make ourselves familiar with what to expect prior to leaving. What train system have they got, are buses easily accessible, do they have taxis, tuk tuks, cyclos? Do i need to pre purchase train/bus tickets prior to leaving? If so, how do i do it? This all depends on which country you go. Tripadvisor has some great forums on this as many people have asked the same questions we were looking for answers to.
Location of accommodation to transport
We always ensure when researching accommodation that the transport is within walking distance. This saves on taxi/tuktuk prices and another added stress of loading and unloading kids (and their luggage) out of the car.
When to go
It is always a good idea to check what the weather is doing at that time of the year. You don’t want to expect a tropical beach holiday and be stuck in the middle of monsoon season! We like travelling to asian countries, so where we go is really dependent on what the weather is doing at the time. The Lonely planet website has great information on climates for each country, with graphs of rainfall and temperatures for the year. Here is an example of Sri Lanka
What to take
The thought of packing for an overseas holiday with kids can be exceptionally overwhelming. What if we forget something? What if the country we are going to doesn’t supply what we need? What if my baby doesn’t like the nappies/food/cream etc? Being organised is very important when packing for kids, and as we all know, they require ALOT of things. See our link for What to pack when travelling with kids.
Food and water
we often stress about finding the right food for our children when we are away (especially when they were babies). We don’t want to rely on the pre packaged food pouches for their breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole trip. (although we do take some as back up). Researching what foods they can eat and what fruit/veggies are in season is good to know prior to travelling, just so you can mentally plan what the kids can eat. Check with your destination if the water is suitable for drinking.
When researching where to go, I like to make sure that it is culturally appropriate to breastfeed in public. Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan were great, women breastfeed in public all the time, however countries like India and Malaysia, it may not be as culturally appropriate in public places, therefore finding the right breastfeeding attire to take with you is important.