Family holidays can be great fun. However, a poorly planned holiday can have the opposite effect. Hands up those who have had a family holiday disintegrate into a morass of bickering and frayed nerves?
Never fear. With our handy family travel tips, you can sail on through your next family holiday.
Tips for Family Travel
1. Make every dollar count
Family holidays can get pricey. Costs get multiplied by the factor of your family size, pure and simple. While we can’t dictate how you manage your household budgets and expenses, we can offer some tips on how to best stretch your holiday dollars.
Look for the best deals online. It’s all in the timing. Sometimes this means booking way in advance and grabbing the early bird cheap airfares or accommodation deals. Other times, it means looking for last-minute deals. Hotels would rather fill a room than let it go empty so grabbing a last-minute deal might do the trick!
Online travel sites like the wonderful Expedia.com.sg (ahem) make it easier to compare room rates, hotel reviews, cheapest flight routes and many other factors for yourself before you book. This can help you shave off a significant amount from that holiday bill. Skip the stuff you don’t need and find exactly what suits your troop of travellers.
2. Travel in the Shoulder Season
School holidays are also the priciest times to travel so try travelling in the shoulder season to save some bucks. This might not work if you have kids who go to school – unless you don’t mind them missing out on a few days of school – but will work if you’re travelling with your parents or even pre-school children.
Avoid travelling to a destination in its summertime, as it will usually be the busiest and priciest time! Try a winter or autumn holiday instead.
3. Consider a Staycation
If budgets are tight, do a staycation in Singapore! There are plenty of great local hotels in your neck of the woods. Just sequester your family in a nice hotel and imagine you’re somewhere else in the world (minus the cost of flying there!).
W Hotel Sentosa Cove
No boarding times, no giant suitcases, no extensive trip planning. You can have a staycation tomorrow if you wanted! The kids will love it too, so if its difficult to plan a trip with the little ones, just check in to a luxury hotel or a charming boutique hotel on the other side of Singapore. Opulent in Orchard or chilled out in Changi, got somewhere truly different from your everyday!
Consider Capella Singapore or W Hotel Sentosa Cove for your next staycation. Take the kids to the beach, Universal Studios or the world’s largest oceanarium when you manage to peel yourself away from the delightful hotels.
4. Not all E-mail Spam is Bad…Really!
Sign up for deals and newsletters. Many service providers send weekly deals to your inbox, so keep your eyes peeled. If you don’t want your main inbox clogged up, start a secondary account just for travel deals and promotions.
Great for an impromptu staycation weekend or quick getaway to Malaysia that requires little planning. Better yet, if you have some idea of where you want to go in the coming year, you will be in the loop with plenty of time to hit the jackpot of travel deals for your destination. It’s hard to predict promos so this is a good way of keeping your eye on the prize without having to scour the net everyday.
5. Pack Smart and Pack Light
There’s no need to bring everything for your trip. Unless you’re going to a remote location or have specific dietary/medical needs, you’ll be able to buy the stuff you need in your holiday destination. It’s easy enough to do a web search to find out if what you need is available where you’re going.
Of course, pack light as well. You don’t want to end up struggling on/off public transport with suitcases loaded with stuff you won’t use. If you have a sleepy kid to carry, little Mr. Mischief running amock, or one too tired to manage his rolly bag… you’re doomed.
Keep it light! This means limiting the kids to one toy or storybook each. They’re there to experience their surroundings after all!
If you must keep them a little entertained for your peace of mind, load up an iPad with their favourite books and media.
6. Mix it up: Free and Paid
A good holiday mixes up the free and the paid tours. A walk through the botanic gardens (free) en route to a museum (paid) is a good example of mixing it up.
7. Book the Right Accommodation
Whether you’re a keen cook or just keen on saving some cash, a service hotel/apartment, allows you space to whip up your culinary creations or cater to fussy eaters. If cooking isn’t your forte, look for a family-friendly hotel with good room service and amenities for children.
Make sure to have plenty of space too: it helps defuse tense situations and allow Mum and Dad to have some privacy too. This could mean booking a larger service apartment or getting two adjoining rooms instead of opting for a fold-up bed.
8. Be Flexible and Open to New Experiences
Repeat this mantra: The itinerary is not a manual to be strictly adhered to.
A holiday shouldn’t be planned with precision of a military exercise. Some of the best holiday moments we’ve had, come out of serendipity – speaking with locals to get tips on where to go, jumping on a random tram/train…the list goes on. So leave some buffer in your schedule for exploring a neighbourhood or getting off the beaten path. And some time to just do nothing but relax.
If you’ve got teenage children, allow them some time to do the things they want to (without their naggy parents hovering like a hawk). Let them have an afternoon by themselves and meet them for dinner after. They will love you for it.
9. Make Collective Decisions
Here’s another mantra to live by: “Let’s agree to disagree!”.
This one is an entirely important family travel tip for keeping your sanity. Not everyone wants to go to a museum or shopping or catch an afternoon matinee. Hey, it’s OK to disagree. In fact, why not try taking turns to pick the next activity. If Dad wants to go the Louvre, go with him, enjoy the experience and ask him to do the same when you want to hit Galeries Lafayette for some shopping.
If you plan ahead, you can also split up in two groups for different activities, then reconvene at an agreed time to continue on together. This way everyone gets to do what they really want without dragging their feet grumpily behind you.
10. The Little Details
- Make sure you’ve got the right visas for everyone. Do Singaporeans need a visa to travel there? Check early to give ample time for visa applications.
- Make sure you’ve activated your ATM and credit cards for overseas use.
- Activate international roaming on your phone. Turn off the cellular data settings to avoid surprise costs — use free Wi-Fi only.
- Of course, your travel insurance policy is up-to-date right?
Find Family Friendly Hotels
When searching for your hotels on Expedia, you can filter by Hotel Theme to view only family-friendly hotels in your preferred destination. Look for it on the left side of the page below the map. Here are a few family-friendly hotel listings in top destinations for Singaporeans.
Family friendly hotels in Bali
Family friendly hotels in Hong Kong
Family friendly hotels in Singapore
Family friendly hotels in Tokyo
Family friendly hotels in Phuket
Family friendly hotels in London
Feature Image: Shutterstock. Photos: Superstock, Tourism Media