Guest post by Emily Hogoboom
How do you take your family travel experience above and beyond?
Your goals for traveling as a family are simple: enjoy yourselves, stay safe, and soak up new experiences.
You don’t want to go on an average family vacation – you want this trip to outrank all the rest. You want to give your family the authentic cultural experience they’ll remember for a lifetime.
Use these four essential tips to make your family travel experience better, safer, easier, and impressively exciting!
Tip #1: Pick Underrated Destinations
The benefits of traveling to lesser-known areas abound: they’re less expensive, less crowded, and offer more authentic experiences for your family.
While international tourism increased worldwide from 2016 to 2017, specific regions saw slower growth. Consider destinations in Central-Eastern Europe, North-East Asia, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa for more intimate travel experiences and fewertourists.
Still prefer the convenience that popular tourist destinations offer? In 2017, the nations that welcomed the most international tourists were France, Spain, the U.S., China, Italy, Mexico, the U.K., Turkey, Germany, and Thailand.
Seven of those top tourist destinations were also in the top 10 for international tourist receipts, which means visitors spent the most money visiting them. These include the U.S., Spain, France, Thailand, the U.K, Italy, and Germany.
You can get the best of both worlds by staying in the smaller towns and cities surrounding the attractions you want to see! You’ll be close enough to access tourist activities easily, but far enough away to feel like you’re gaining a more authentic cultural experience.
Tip #2: Find Family-Friendly Travel Experiences
The internet is a wonderful thing. Sites like TripAdvisor mean it’s easy to find family-friendly activities almost anywhere in the world. Simply search for your destination, pick the “things to do” section, and select the “good for kids” category to find a plethora of kid-friendly attractions no matter where you’re going.
If you can’t find your destination on a travel review site, search for blogs onthe area. Plenty of family travel bloggers take their kids to remote destinations and write about their experiences specifically to help other parents who want to follow in their footsteps.
Stillnothing you think will interest your kids? Get them engaged with the surrounding culture. Focus on their interests. Do your children love trains? Visit an old railyard. Are they interested in cars? See if there’s a luxury car dealership or garage to tour. Do they love animals but there are no nearby zoos? Look for outdoor experiences where you can find wild animals in their natural habitats, like a boat tour or safari.
Go a step further: let your kids plan your activities and guarantee their entertainment while exploring. Give them a list of several travel experience available in your destination and let them pick their favorites. Search for things like local museums, zoos, aquariums, and science centers – anything that allows them to interact with their surroundings physically.
Tip #3: Prepare for Emergencies
For a truly immersive experience, you want to mitigate the worry you might feel if an emergency were to occur while abroad with your family.
Pack a travel first aid kit. Include your family’s preferred over-the-counter medications, like pain relievers and cough and cold medicine, as well as any prescription medications you need. Bring additional supplies for scrapes and bruises, upset stomachs, and sanitation.
You can store these items in a lightweight and durable container, like a tackle box. Be sure to check your kit regularly so you can replace expired medications and missing items. Pack the first aid kit in your checked luggage.
Next, research healthcare in your destination before you leave. No matter where you travel, you’re likely to find a different healthcaresystem than you’re used to backhome. Make sure you understand where to seek emergency medical care, how accessible care is, and whether you’ll be financially responsible.
The U.S. Department of State’s “Travel Advisories” page is a good place to start. Enter the name of your destination country and click the “search” icon. Scroll down to the “health” tab to find information about the nation’s water quality, standard of care in local health facilities, and prevalent diseases.
Also consider purchasing a travel medical insurance plan to help cover emergency medical expenses should something happen to you or your children abroad. Travel medical insurance can cover costs resulting from unexpected injuries, illnesses, and even travel mishaps like the airline losing your checked luggage.
Tip #4: Get Around, Even When You Don’t Speak the Language
Don’t let a language barrier prevent you from traveling to all your bucket list destinations! Download an app like Memrise, LinguaLift, or Duolingo to learn key words and phrases in the local language. An honest attempt to speak in the native language goes a long way – you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you when you try to speak their language.
Also download a translation app like iTranslate, Google Translate, or TripLingo. Apps like these can help you communicate better with locals, order food easier,and seamlessly navigate local transportation.
It’s a good idea to map out how you’re getting to and from the airport and your hotel before you depart. Be sure to study the public transportation system or order a car to pick you up if you’re wary about local taxis. Carry your hotel’s business card in the local language in case you need to ask somebody for directions.
Google My Maps is a great resource for mapping out your trip. You can use pins to mark important locations and add directions and time estimates for traveling from one point to another via car, bicycle, or foot.
For more spontaneous activities, make use of the hotel concierge to select a destination appropriate travel experience!
Pick up a paper map and ask them to circle and write down the names and addresses of places you should explore. You can use this to show your taxi driver where you want to go,or to ask for directions more easily. Equipped with this information and a few local phrases, you’ll get around with no problems.
Emily is a Marketing Specialist with Tokio Marine HCC – MIS Group which also operates WorldTrips.com. Her writing experience includes travel topics ranging from safe family travel to study abroad and adventure destinations.
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