Since 2012, I have planned, organized and booked several big vacations for my family. These were all trips that lasted from 2 1/2 weeks to 5 weeks long. We visited several countries, or in the event of visiting only one country, it involved seeing diverse parts of that country. Travel time from our home airport to these countries ranged from 15 hours (Central America) to 26 hours (South Africa). Through all this, I have never had one of my four children ever tell me that they had enough and wanted to go home. How have I been so lucky? I am not exactly sure! But, I do a lot of research on where we are going, and spend a lot of time thinking about the different needs of each member of my family whenever I create our itinerary.
There is a HUGE difference between flying to an all inclusive beach resort for a week and flying to a country with the intent to explore it. The all inclusive resort will offer all of your meals and activities, and the expectation is you will never leave the resort. Your preparation for the trip requires little more than packing the right clothes and lots of sunscreen.
On the other hand, when you intend to explore a country with your children, whether it is a European country, Third World or developing country, there is a lot of preparation that I think should be done before you leave.
I try to make my itineraries as comprehensive as possible before we go on holiday. This includes accommodation, transportation within the country, and day to day tours and activities. I even contemplate the minuscule details. When should we do a tour or an activity? What means of transportation should we use to get from one point to another? If we are moving from place to place, what order should we see them? Every country or destination is different and poses different challenges that need to be considered, especially when travelling with your children.
This is not to say that every minute of every day is booked with a tour or an activity. I think that it is important to have free time in each spot you visit, depending on the amount of time you have, to decide what else you might want to do. Sometimes, you only learn of a special destination or activity once you spend time in the area. Other times, it is just nice to have time to walk around and explore on your own. However, even these moments of free time are thought out and planned in my itineraries. The ultimate goal is to create a balance so that everyone feels like they are having fun while learning about a new country and culture.
When creating itineraries for my family, I always ask myself three fundamental questions.
BASED UPON THE AGE AND MATURITY OF MY CHILDREN,
Below are the itineraries that I have created over the years. I hope that you enjoy reading them. If you are interested in learning what we liked most or what we would have changed, I provide those opinions on a separate page called Reflections?