As we know only to well, when it comes to planning a family holiday, there are many considerations to take into account, all of which change over time. As your family grows older, different factors are either removed, or inserted, into this often complex and potentially difficult equation. There is also the issue of who is involved in the planning of the holiday. The babe in arms has no say in the planning process, whilst the potentially stroppy teenager should, on the other hand, be encouraged to participate. Whatever age your children are, one old adage always applies, the ‘Five Ps’ rule: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Ignore it at your peril- it really has helped us over the years.
To some, planning a family holiday is all about lists of things to do and to remember to take with you. It is, of course, vital that you arrive at the airport with your passports, tickets and luggage, on time. If you will be hiring a car at the airport you fly into remembering to take both parts of your UK drivers’ license is equally important. I learnt that lesson the hard way once.
A family holiday plan has start at the top level – blue sky planning or whatever you want to call it. This is in effect a negotiation. When the children are tiny, the negotiation is between the adults and the childrens’ needs are factored into it. When the children are older, they will have their own agenda. Compromise is the key at this top-level stage; the art is identifying a holiday that can offer something for all of you.
The next step is to map your holiday out in stages and the smaller your children are, the more stages your plan will probably have. That exercise done, look at the risks that each stage presents and identify solutions to make them as stress-free as possible. Take long haul flights out of the equation, for example, especially when your children are young. Crowded airports can be stressful, so think about flying mid-week when airports and flights are usually less busy. Don’t forget to factor in the journey to your holiday destination from the airport you land in, which might well include a lengthy car journey right after an equally long flight. Think of solutions to make each stage of the holiday stress-free for all.
Finally, always remember that a holiday plan is a guide and not a rule that has to be obeyed to the letter. Keep an open mind and let the plan be fluid. You and your family are bound to discover new or unthought-of things to do once you arrive at your destination. A fluid plan will let you factor these in to it and make the holiday special for everyone.
Ian Collison and his wife Heather have been planning family holidays for over a decade and always include Sovereign holidays in the process.