The great thing about vacations is that they’re fun, relaxing, and incredibly enjoyable for the whole family. The not-so-great thing about vacations is that you actually have to organize them, and that’s where the stress comes in. If you aren’t well-prepared many things could end up catching you off-guard, and if you’re traveling with children it’s very important to meet all their needs and manage their time because they’re too young to do it themselves. So, how can you prepare without a huge hassle and ensure that your trip is actually a soothing experience rather than an anxiety-ridden mess? Take a look at our tips and you’ll find out.
1. Get the documentation out of the way
Anything involving bureaucracy is always a big headache, so get it out of the way as soon as you can. Check whether your passports are still valid, whether your drivers license and ID are up to date, and book the hotel several months in advance. You’ll also want to buy the plane tickets and print out a boarding pass, and make sure each family member has all their documents in order to avoid any unpleasant situations. Once you have everything, put it all in one big folder and that way you won’t have to hunt around the house because you can’t remember where you’ve left someone’s plane ticket.
2. Make sure you have travel insurance
Accidents happen, and they tend to happen most frequently when you get careless. Travel insurance isn’t all that pricey, and it can really make you feel safer. If you’re worried about someone getting sick while you’re abroad, you can also apply for an EHIC card that will allow you to get either free or subsidized medical care in Europe.
3. Make sure your car is ready to travel
If you’re traveling by car, start by performing a visual inspection of the vehicle—the tires, windshields, exterior lights, air filters, and dashboard should all be checked. Major issues such as cracks need to be addressed immediately, so don’t hesitate to hire an expert for car windshield repair if you don’t want to put your family in danger. You’ll also need to check whether the vehicle needs an oil change and generally pay attention to fluid levels. Make sure there are no leaks and that there’s plenty of coolant in the tank. Take a look at the clutch, the brakes, and the brake pads, make sure the drive belt and engine aren’t worn down, and do keep a spare tire in the trunk. You should also perform a steering check by taking the car for a spin and paying attention to engine sounds, vibrations, and suspension. If you notice any problems, call the mechanic and have them fixed—it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Double-check luggage allowance
If you’re traveling by plane, then check the luggage allowance well in advance and weigh your suitcases to avoid any problems. You don’t want to be stuck reorganizing your bags and suitcases in the middle of the airport or have to pay extra. Once you know how much you can bring, you can start packing.
5. Make a packing list for everyone
Family trips are a good opportunity to teach everyone to pack lightly. Regardless of where you’re going, you genuinely don’t need much to have a totally relaxing trip, and a lot of the things can be bought when you arrive at your destination if you really need something. Make everyone a packing list, and make sure that they stick to it. Organize the whole procedure about a week before your trip, and go through the lists with your children to see if they remembered everything.
6. Bring entertainment
Limit each kid to one favorite toy, and bring a notebook and some crayons to make those long road trips easier for them to handle. You can also pack a family board game if you want a good source of entertainment and a chance for everyone to bond in the evenings. A single board game should be easy to pack, and it will actually inspire some creativity and mental exercise in your children in a way that no tablet or smartphone can.
7. Secure your home
Check the doors, windows, and gates, and cancel any deliveries that might be coming to your home. If you want, get an alarm to discourage burglary, and leave a spare key with a neighbor or a close friend so they could come in occasionally to water the plants and make sure everything’s okay. Only leave your key with people who you fully trust.
8. Turn off all the appliances
This can actually save you some money—turn down your thermostat but make sure it’s not completely off if you don’t want your pipes to crack from the cold. You should also unplug all the appliances and turn off TVs, computers, and other devices.
As long as you prepare on time, your trip should be an amazing experience. Once you’re done with all these things you can simply relax and start dreaming about the vacation, so start now and you’ll enjoy a fuss-free holiday.
Robert Clayton is a blogger with a degree in engineering based in Sydney. His interests and passions include DIY, green technologies and home improvement. He also loves good food, music, dogs and enjoys spending time by the ocean. He’s a regular contributor for Smooth Decorator, An Australian Home improvement website.