Summer holidays should be filled with fun adventures, exploring new places and spaces and spending time with your family. If you’re scheduling some time abroad, here are a few ideas to get you organised and prepared for your holiday so you can plan confidently and enjoy the journey.
Check Your Travel Documents
Before you’ve committed to travel dates and securing flights and accommodations, it’s a wise idea to check your family’s passports and travel documents, such as Visas, temporary Waivers and your ESTA status.
Each country will have its own travel requirements and possibly differing Visas so it’s important to consider this if visiting several countries. The United States now requires that all passport holders need an electronic passport to enter the country; electronic passports will have a symbol on the cover consisting of two horizontal bars with a circle in the centre. You should contact the Passport Office or your country’s consulate office if you are unsure whether you have an electronic passport.
Once you have booked your holiday, it’s always a good idea to print and bring a hard copy of your electronic boarding passes and confirmations for your car rental and accommodations in the event you are unable to access a mobile network while traveling. Bring your health insurance cards as well in case someone falls ill or is injured and needs medical attention.
Because I’m super organised, I simply cannot pack for a holiday without making a list of what I will need. It makes packing an easier process and prevents the likelihood of forgetting something or, worse, over-packing. Your list should separate your family’s clothing essentials from toiletries and other necessities. Spend some time thinking about what your day and night activities will entail so you can pack smartly and choose separates that will work together. Roll your clothing to avoid creasing fabrics and pop a dryer sheet in the suitcase to keep clothes fresh. If you’re traveling with toddlers you may even want to consider packing outfits in individual Ziploc bags for grab-and-go convenience during hectic mornings.
Your hand luggage will be your saving grace while traveling with children but you also won’t want to feel burdened with a heavy bag so carefully consider its contents. In addition to your travel documents, antibacterial wipes or hand sanitiser should be high on your list of priorities to ward off excessive germs in high traffic areas, as will a small First-Aid kit of Band-Aids, antibacterial ointment, alcohol swabs, antihistamine and a fever reducer/pain reliever. A small canister of bug repellent and sunscreen should also be considered depending on where your travels will take you. Add a few pre-packaged bags of family friendly snacks to ward of the “hangries” – a state between hunger and anger – and don’t forget comfort items like socks, head pillows, earphones, reading materials and chewing gum to pop your ears mid-flight.
Consider Travel Games + Activities
Keep your little ones busy during and between flights and while on long drives with a collection of travel-size board games, playing cards and reading books, or load a few new books and games on your electronic tablet or mobile device. Colouring books travel well and crayons can be packed in a sandwich bag and shared among siblings easily. Consider printing in advance of your holiday trip math, grammar and spelling worksheets to keep their brain engaged as well.
There are also lots of easy and fun games to play while waiting in an airport or airplane that do not require any materials, like “I Spy”. The Number Plate Game – players take turns making a sentence using the letters of a license plate – works well if you find yourself stuck in rush hour traffic.
It may be cool to gift each of your children with a disposable camera to capture their memories of your holiday. A small notebook acts well as a journal and encourages children to write about what they did each day that was especially cool and is a great way to practice penmanship, storytelling and spelling in a clever way. Younger children can draw a picture.
Before You Leave Home
Before you jet off, check that your alarm system or security cameras are all functional and windows and doors are secured. Notify your neighbours that you’ll be off-island; most people are generally happy to keep an eye on your home and look for suspicious activity. If you have hurricane shutters, locking them adds another layer of security to your home, particularly as you’re traveling during hurricane season. You may also want to think about stowing away any bulky items in your yard that could potentially become a hazard should an impending storm hit the island.
Your neighbour may also be willing to care for your family pets while you’re away or you can opt to place them in a boarding facility like Cayman Pet Paradise, The Veterinary Clinic, Must Love Dogs or Happy Paws.
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Published: Cayman Parent, Summer 2016