Don’t leave your family holiday planning to the last minute
It is getting to the time of the year when the long school holidays are approaching and many families are heading off for a much needed holiday.
However often the drama of getting organised to go away along with all the extra preparation that is involved can result in you wondering whether going on holiday was quite such a good idea after all.
Family holidays are expensive. They can be fun, exhausting and stressful so making sure you make the most of your long earned break with some serious family holiday planning well ahead of time is essential.
Start your family holiday planning now
Grab some paper or preferably a notebook or diary and brainstorm everything you will need to do before you go on holiday. A dedicated notebook would be ideal as this will allow all your notes will be in one place and enable you to refer or add to your notes over time.
Quite often we end up thinking about making lists and getting organised for our holidays. Then decide perhaps it is a bit early to start planning that far ahead. Wrong – it is never to early to start planning. Before you know it the holiday will be approaching and you well find there is not the time to carry the family holiday planning you had intended.
Travel Itinerary and travel insurance
Check you are possession of everyone’s passports and ensure they are valid for more than six months.
If you are travelling to Europe check that you have a valid EHIC card. You can apply for your free EHIC card here. Remember even if you have a valid EHIC card you will still require travel insurance.
To gain the best and full benefit of Travel Insurance – make sure you take out cover as soon as you book the holiday. That way if due to unforeseen circumstances you have to cancel any costs incurred should be refunded.
*Travel Insurance is useful if you are travelling within the UK too. Just make sure that whatever travel insurance you book it provides you with the necessary cover required. Some polices will not include you taking part in particular activities or have other exclusions which you may be unaware of. Make sure you read the small print before you decide on your travel insurance.
The EHIC Card (European Health Insurance Card)
As stated earlier the EHIC card does not replace travel insurance.
The EHIC card provides the same level of cover for the residents of the country that you are staying in – which is unlikely to be as comprehensive as the NHS if you live in the UK. And many UK residents get caught out by this.
This means if you have a poorly child you may well have to pay for a visit to a GP. You can find out all about the risks you are running if you do not take out travel insurance here on the UK gov site.
Ensure you have a copy of your doctors name and address along with your medical insurance document handy. It can also be very useful to always carry a record of everyone’s NHS number’s with you too.
Research your holiday destination
The more you know about the place you are visiting the better. Time spent on recconaisance is seldom wasted. It is also important to work out the things which help make your holiday a success and what potential problems you want to try and avoid or at least work around.
The time you are likely to arrive at your destination is important a milestone in any holiday. So working out where or what you will eat if you arrive later than first planned are good “what ifs” to give some thought to particularly if you are travelling with a young family.
You might also want to research:
- Places you would like to visit.
- How close is the beach, shops and restaurants
- What activities are there to do if the weather is inclement.
- What restaurants/cafes would you like to try. Take a look at the reviews on Trip Advisor and book ahead if you want to ensure a table.
Family planning – make a list – actually make lots of lists
- What you need to pack for different family members
- Work out what suitcases /luggage you will be taking.
- Check your Passports, tickets and travel travel documents.
- Research your holiday destination.
- Check out latest foreign office advice
- What bills need to be paid before you go away.
- Make a list of people who you need to notify that you are away.
- Games to occupy the children when you are travelling or where you are staying
- Travel snacks and drinks for the journey
Make sure you tick off things off your lists once you have completed an action. It is also useful to schedule the date you would like to have completed actions from these lists.
Packing the case
- Arrange for clothes that are you are taking on holiday to be “taken out of service” in good time before the date of travel. The idea being you leave as little washing as possible to the last minute.
- When packing tick off or write everything down as you pack items in your suitcase. This will save you saves loads of time repacking if you are unsure what you have packed.
- Are your suitcases fit for purpose? Working and secure? Have you luggage labels?
- Roll clothes rather than fold as this will result in less creasing.
- Plan what you and your family members are going to wear on the journey.
Other things to consider as part of your family holiday planning
- Always take your own medical kit.
- A nightlight which you can plug-in so people can find their way around at night when they are in unfamiliar surroundings. Also essential if you have young children who may be nervous of the dark.
- Several travel adaptors for electrical items if you are travelling abroad.
- Pack travel games, cards, Pass the Pigs is one of our favourites, and colouring pens and pencils. Also try to have a couple of puzzle books handy.
- A Kindle E-Readeror Apple iPad iPad also is ideal not just to keep the kids occupied but you too. And of course will not add any bulk or weight traditional books and magazines do.
- Finally take a photo of your kids – just in case they get themselves lost and carry it with you.
Family holiday planning – create an itinerary
Type out your own personal itinerary, or store the information electronically in a document on your mobile. This may sound a ludicrous thing to do but it will help you work out accurate timings.
For example, where you need to be at what time without having to consult your paperwork or tickets.
Information that you will need to refer to from the terminal you are flying from, flight numbers to the address of your final destination.
Include details of the time you need to get up, time you need to leave, travel time to the airport etc. And always allow extra time.
Before you set off for your family holiday
- Pack everything you possibly can the night before
- Whether you are going by car, train or plane – it is worth taking a few nibbles and drinks to eat along the way.
- Make sure there is nothing packed in your luggage that is likely to be confiscated by security if you are travelling by air.
By adopting these tips you will find that there are a few less things to worry about and will help to make your family holiday more enjoyable.
For more family holiday planning tips on how to have a happy holiday read Holiday Tips For Busy Mums