Planning a Trip
Things to consider BEFORE planning your trip
These are some of my tried and true rules for planning a trip. I try to adhere to them as much as possible.
Have a Pow-Wow
Actually, have many! We periodically sit down and talk about the trip. We go over schedules (How early do we have to wake up? Comes up every time), activities and expectations. I make it clear that if they agree, they are signing up for this, and therefore they need to keep complaining to a minimum!!!!
Sometimes we have changed plans, nixed cities or added some as the trip evolves thanks to everyone's input. This is the number one thing for success. Being part of the planning and decision making makes kids vested in the trip. When they feel they have ownership it makes a world of a difference.
Summer of 2011 we scheduled a day with an eight hour train ride. They were warned, they where informed and they agreed. So they planned and downloaded movies for their ipads and brought UNO cards. It actually turned into a fun and relaxing ride and to this day the Bernina Express is still known in our family as the "UNO" train!
The Bernina Express, Switzerland
Where to go
This may sound obvious, but make sure EVERY member of the family is on board with most of the locations you will visit. You can't please everybody all the time, but there should be something for everyone to look forward to. Be flexible and take fears and comfort levels into consideration. We have fear of heights for some in our family so we work around it and plan accordingly.
More than two nights in one location? Don't stay in a hotel
Instead, look for a rental property. Check out my blog on “Where to Stay". Making yourself “at home” in a different city is part of the adventure. It allows you to manage shower routines and meals much better if you have younger children. It is much nicer to unwind in a comfortable living room at the end of the day than in an impersonal hotel room. And if you are really adventurous you can try cooking with the local flavor!
Our rental in Berlin, Germany
Half way through the trip take a day off. Find a park, go to a movie, have a picnic or sleep in. Don't feel guilty about not sightseeing, this does wonders for the kids' stamina and attention spans for the rest of the trip.
St James Park, London UK
Schedule Mornings around your family's sleep patterns
We are not early raisers, so we try to go for the 9am trains and late afternoon flights. It helps to keep the peace!
Check for Holidays and Closings
This one is huge!! We walked to the Trevi Fountain just last month to find it under renovation. It was disappointing but at least we had been there before. Lots of folks around us were really upset because this was their one opportunity. So check on museums and monuments you really want to see to make sure they are open for business. Also remember that unlike the USA where most stores are open during the weekends, many stores close saturday at noon and may not open until Monday morning.
If you have your own "must consider before travel", share in our comments or email me!