Summer Family Travel
The Summer Holidays are here and so many parents are heaving a sigh of relief. “A break from homework,” one mom said to me. “It’s time to relax and have some fun.” And so the travel season begins. Summer is one of the busy travel seasons of the year. Families look forward to this season and yet there are a lot of frayed tempers and family discord when preparing for this long awaited trip.
How can the family prepare to make this season a little less stressful?
1. Make travel plans early
Decide where you want to go to early on in the season and plan for it. The beauty of this is that you can actually start saving for the trip early so you don’t go into debt over a vacation. Also buying a ticket early saves on cost. You have to decide whether to stay at a hotel or rent a home and there are Apps to help you with that. Decide what you are actually going to do with your time while on your vacation. Planning takes away a lot of the stress associated with the trip. Arguing about what sites to see or what to do when you arrive at your destination is never a good idea. Imagine you arrive and everything is sold out or no your family must choose to pay more for events or skip them altogether and this definitely puts a damper on things. Trust me, I’ve done both.
2. Have a checklist handy.
Nothing is worse than getting to the airport and realizing that you left you ID or passport at home. The stress of having someone bring it to you whilst you keep your fingers crossed and hope that you’ll make it through the long lines is just not worth it and you run the risk of missing your flight. Have your checklist. Write down all your necessities and make sure they make it into your luggage. Check and double check that you’ve packed your travel documents. It sounds simple but I know so many people who have forgotten these at home. Also, put your medication in your hand carried luggage. Again, been there, done that. What if your luggage does not make it there on time? If possible pack your toiletries, contacts, and everything that you absolutely need in your hand carried luggage. Advise your teens to do the same. If you have a teen who has a chronic illness and depends on a medication, don’t leave it to chance. Make sure the medication gets on the plane with you.
3. Safety first
If you are traveling abroad, visit the CDC to find out the vaccinations you need so you take the necessary precautions to avoid getting ill on your journey. I can’t emphasize enough the need to use an insect repellant especially now with the scare of the Zika virus as well as malaria which are both transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. There are also other diseases that can be prevented by ensuring you get the right vaccines. Be careful about what you eat or drink when you travel. My Infectious Disease attending in Residency always told us, “If you can’t wash it or cook it, don’t eat it.” Following this simple rule will save you lots of headache on your trip. Hand washing is the single most important step you can take to prevent yourself from getting sick or spreading illness to others. Finally, remember to have the whole family use sunscreen before going out on those gorgeous beaches.
4. Be aware of your surroundings
It is very important before you go on any journey to have an idea of how safe the area is. Even if you are going to be in a resort be aware of the surrounding neighborhood. Is it a high crime area or is it generally safe for visitors? In some places it may not be safe to wander away from the resort or hotel to go for your morning run alone. Also talk to your teens about the friends they make on these trips. They generally should not go anywhere alone with someone they’ve just met no matter how wonderful they appear. Some of the world’s greatest criminals have been very charismatic people. Warn your teens they should not be lured into a sense of safety because someone comes across as being very sincere. In some cases it is worth considering getting travel insurance. I think if you are going to be in a place known for its political unrest or a place where the healthcare system is not the best then it’s a good idea to have it. You never know when you may have to cut your trip short and return home early. Generally if you are going for a short family trip with no time constraints then I’m not sure that you need one.
As we look forward to the summer travel season, let’s make the experience a truly enjoyable one, by planning early. Decide where you want to go and budget for it. Come up with your list of events and places you want to visit and purchase tickets early and make sure those events are still being offered. Be safe and make sure you have all your medication, vaccines if you need them and of course all your travel documents. Pay attention to your surroundings and encourage your teens to do the same so they don’t get into trouble.
Let’s make this Summer travel season a truly enjoyable and stress free experience.