Travel

Family Travel Bucket List Destinations Part 1

IMG_5944Something I’ve spoken about before is the benefit of travel. By the time I was 25 I’d visited around 40 countries. This may seem a lot but considering there are upwards of 200 and the fact that I’ve met plenty of people who´ve surpassed 100 puts this figure in perspective. Of course travel shouldn’t be about quantity of places or ticking names off a list, quality of experience is much more valuable. I merely highlighted my relative travel experience to give some context in regards to my view point and hopefully some credence too!

I first left the UK when I was three. All I remember of Italy was a beautiful but stony beach; however that doesn’t mean to say there was no benefit in this experience. Being introduced to other cultures and countries at a young age definitely left an impression on me, it fed my longing for adventure as a young child. This developed in to wanderlust at a later age and has most certainly helped define who I am as an adult. The thing about travel is that no matter what your or your children’s fascinations are there is something for everyone. History, engineering, farming, art, culture, music, trekking, adventure, sports, relaxation and well-being, wildlife, science, food, architecture, religion and geography are all topics you can indulge in and learn about all over the world.

I previously emphasized the value of the precious family time and togetherness that a vacation provides, whilst simultaneously helping you de-stress and your children learn and grow. Now I’d like to give some more practicable and specific information pertaining to different destinations.

Once you become responsible for children of your own your ideal holiday destination changes in accordance with their likes and dislikes and also becomes dependent on what type of trip will give you the least stress! In the past I never understood the fascination people had with holiday resorts. For me they are never representative of the country you are visiting. Now I whole heartedly recognize the attraction. The ease in which they can booked, the reliable safety of the locations, the lack of issues to consider and the relative ease in which all the family can be pleased. However my experience on these types of trips is limited, what I’d like to do is give a breakdown on some unique bucket list holiday destinations. Even if you just managed to visit one of these places in your lifetime it will be a uniquely rewarding experience for everyone involved!

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Lesser Known Island Getaways

South East Asia

A well-trodden backpacking trail but still an area of the world filled with hidden gems and getaways that would make a special family trip. The first thing you’ll notice about South-East Asia is the price, it is incredibly cheap.

Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel around and is really quite a large country with plenty of tropical island paradise spots, Bali and the Gili Islands being the most famous but the nearby Lombok is my personal favourite. This lesser known cousin of Bali offers some postcard perfect beaches without the tourists. For the adventure seekers there is volcano trekking and also Indonesia is the only place in the world where you can see, in the wild, the planets biggest lizard and living dinosaur: the Komodo dragon. The nearby islands of Flores, Rinca and Komodo can be reached easily by boat for this excursion. Alternatively you shouldn’t pass on the opportunity for a boating day trip for snorkelling, diving or just island hopping!

The Philippines consists of over 7000 islands! You really are spoilt for choice here. Whether you’re interested in swimming with whale sharks, exploring forests full of the world’s smallest monkeys, hiking through traditional rice terraces or walking a picturesque beach at sunset on your own island, The Philippines is special. Less explored than traditional destinations such as Thailand, nevertheless The Philippines is on the rise as tourist hotspot. Manila is a nightmare of an airport but you can catch very economical internal flights to the white sands of Boracay, the turquoise waters of Palawan and everywhere in between. Island hopping in Palawan introduced me to the most perfect islands I’ve ever seen in my life.

Caribbean islands

A cruise can be fantastic for a family holiday but if you’re not ready to splash out and would prefer to see one or two islands in depth I can definitely make some suggestions.

Aruba is a beautiful island which much like Hawaii is easily traversable by car but can be managed in less time as it is a really small island (with a MUCH smaller population.) It is very safe and the whole population appears to be multi-lingual, fluent in English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento the local language, popular in the Dutch West Indies. To my ears this language sounds similar to Portuguese. There are beautiful uncrowded beaches in abundance and the locals are very friendly, amiable people. You will have no problem using US dollars here and for the adventure seeking there are plenty of options from renting dune buggy type vehicles to diving and water sports.

St Lucia is becoming a popular honeymoon spot for a reason. The island’s rugged dramatic scenery is attracting more and more visitors each year but yet St. Lucia remains far from overdeveloped and you get a real sense of nature and natural beauty here. Again English is widely spoken and the US dollar regularly accepted. Your time here can be spent relaxing or adventuring with all the family! Rainforest hikes, ziplining, volcanoes and waterfalls, this island has it all!

So there you have it, the first instalment of my unconventional family holiday bucket list destinations!

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.

 

Traveling With Children Post-Divorce

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Why is travel important?

Travel is sometimes a necessity. People need to travel for work, to visit family but also to have important relaxation time and breaks from the day to day schedule. Studies have shown that compared to other OECD countries Americans get the least paid public holidays and least paid vacation time

However travel can broaden the mind, it can be necessary to de-stress and maintain productivity in the workplace for when you return. Furthermore it is essential in terms of having quality work-free time with your children. Divorce shouldn’t change that time. It is important for bonding and for your child’s development. Family holidays are generally always remembered well into adulthood and for some families they become a rare time when there is enjoyment, indulgence and new exciting experiences for everyone. The lack of set routine, pressure and stress is always a bonus factor.

Never underestimate the importance of planning!

Divorced parents should try and continue giving their children these experiences. In fact usually there are court ordered specific allotted holiday times for each parent, often solidified in a custody agreement or parenting plan. These can take the spontaneity out of planning a trip but at least it adds to the anticipation for the kids! After divorce you will find travelling with your children takes additional planning anyway. You have to respect the sometimes legally binding allotted holiday periods each parent has. You should inform your ex-spouse of the details of your trip and all relevant travel arrangements. This could include expenses, dates, destinations, hotel names, addresses and phone numbers, plus expected methods of communication whilst away. Planning is always productive in terms of trips, it helps anticipate and deal with potential issues whilst managing your time better in order to get the most out of your holiday. The longer and further away the trip the more planning is generally required, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun to sometimes slightly wing it though!

Whatever you do you should remember that post-divorce you need to pay even more attention to saving the relevant travel documents in order to avoid any hiccups. It could also be important to save correspondence with your ex pertaining to the trip in the unlikely event that they try to deny that you have confirmed these preparations with them previously. Another factor to consider is where your child’s travel documents are kept. If you have physical custody of your child you may assume the most logical place is in your house. Get it in writing; the last thing you want is an argument over passport access a few hours before your flight!

When travelling with children safety always comes first. You have to consider factors that maybe weren’t high priority for you when you backpacked Asia on your gap year! Now in the likely event that you’ll be the sole adult on the holiday your responsibility is increased. The US government website provides breakdowns on countries by profile; you can get current safety levels, necessary vaccinations and travel advice.

Controlling your innate feeling isn’t easy!

Something I’ve talked about before is the emotional sacrifice necessary to let your child spend the holidays with your ex. It is common to feel the need to interfere in their plans and be aware of every minute detail, whilst simultaneously feeling slight resentment that your ex is getting to have fun with your child without you. Why should they get to have all the fun whilst you’re stuck with the day to day grind, the meal preparations and school runs? Maybe the financial ramifications of divorce have left you unable to take your child on the type of trips your ex can, this is bound to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. However, you have to try and break free from that way of thinking. The trip is for your child and if it’s in their best interests then you should go with it. There are countless potential issues and feelings that will arise when it comes to your child holidaying without you, the best way to tackle these is consider as many as possible. The fewer surprises, the lower your frustration and angst will be.

Summary

Whilst post-divorce there are certain conditions and obstacles that weren’t prevalent before, the bottom line is that this shouldn’t stop you travelling with your child. Travelling can teach them new responsibilities, social skills, tolerance and respect for different cultures whilst strengthening the bond between you both. Travelling and holidays can be important educational opportunities; this importance should not be overlooked or undervalued!

Krishan Smith, author of this article, is the new senior editor at Custody X Change, a custody software specialist company. He’s originally from the UK but now living in Colombia.

 

Vacations With Your Children In Their Twenties

image5 ship 2017Vacationing with your youngsters was easy. If they got tired of culture, a neighborhood park was fun. Watching squirrels and birds was a blast. Twenty somethings are more of a challenge to keep them amused. Going on vacation requires plenty of pre-planning for this age group. One friend says that her sons want to go to “hot spots to pick up chicks.” A trip to Iceland was fascinating for these young men. -hiking among waterfalls, over lava rocks and being awed by geysers. At night while she and her husband rested their old bones, the lads went clubbing. All were happy.

Choosing destinations that will keep older teens and ones in their twenties entertained is important.

A lovely resort on a small island was magical for my young sons. The children’s club was top-notch where they were exposed to Caribbean culture, songs and cooking. The boys learned about marine life while strolling along the beach and the rainforest was their outdoor classroom. Fast forward a decade. Two bored teens begged their former playroom teachers to let them come back with the little ones for various activities. Learned my lesson. We recently went to Dominican Republic which is a larger island with more action, such as ziplining. There is the Water World complex which has marine life, events and a casino. They were pleased. The mountains were breath-taking and that alone was enough for me.

Our latest trip to the Caribbean was a cruise. On quieter islands – more known for beaches than nightlife – my twenty something companions found entertainment on board. There were shows, games, dancing, and staff who were their ages. My older son befriended two who worked in the Dutch Café. He had been to their homeland, The Netherlands, and enjoyed talking with them every evening over cappuccino or beer. These lively young adults were the highlight of my son’s cruise. At the beginning of a cruise, there is a gathering scheduled for singles. On one, it was for twenty somethings only and this group hung out together most of the time.

Traveling with twenty somethings who have much younger siblings can be tricky.

The islands that we explored have attractions for a wide variety of ages. The brightly painted buildings in Curaçao are stunning. Its city Willemstad, one of the larger ones we visited, has an aquarium and maritime museum which are appealing. Wandering around the centuries old alleyways is an adventure in itself. The twenty somethings enjoyed the nightlife and the fireworks display. Aruba has a butterfly farm and a compact downtown area very close to the pier. Easy to navigate with a stroller and charming pubs with local brew for the young adults. We spent most of our time on Gran Turk at the beach. There is an informative exhibit of when astronaut John Glen landed here after being the first American to orbit Earth.

Bonaire is a paradise with water so clear one can look down and see beautiful tropical fish and coral. No wonder it is one of the dive capitals of the world. While older ones are part-taking in the plethora of water sports, the youngsters can splash around in the warm ocean. The shells, coral and beach glass washed ashore are amazing. To get to the city (Kralendijk) from the pier, one goes through the historical Fort Oranje whose walls are partially constructed with coral. The shops and cafes contained within these walls are patrolled by iguanas. Kids of varying ages will enjoy the craft markets particularly on Dominican Republic and Bonaire. Talking to the locals and seeing their wares was educational and fun at these venues.

A cruise is a good way to have a family reunion when there are three generations with various interests and energy levels. Look for resorts or hotels that have a kids ‘club, and activities, such as water sports. The older ones can learn surfing, go snorkelling and swim in deeper water. The wee ones enjoy sitting on the beach making sandcastles or playing with a plastic bucket and spade (which I would pack). For city adventures, the tots can be wheeled around in a stroller when exploring the new locale with the whole family. After doing sightseeing that is interesting to all, the older siblings can part ways to concentrate on what they want to do. Parents sometimes travel with a paid nanny to take the baby back for a nap or playtime. Others like me, bring along a granny. My mother would get tired tramping around ruins and museum at about the same time as my youngest. Those two would head back to the hotel or ship for down time.

Tips on making vacations more affordable.

  • US News & World Report has information on credit cards with no transaction fees https://creditcards.usnews.com/no-foreign-transaction-fee Make sure that you are billed in local currency on your credit card and not in US Dollars. The venders’ exchange rate is higher. My credit card is with an airline and I use it for almost all purchases. I get at least one free trip overseas each year.
  • Skip the expensive internet packages aboard ships. It is easy to find free Wi-Fi at coffee shops in ports and cities. Soft drink packages can also be pricey. Satisfy your craving ashore. If you are planning on cruising again, passengers can get extra discounts when booking for another one while still onboard.
  • Consider making purchases more in the middle of a city. In Curaçao, one son reported beer was almost half the price three streets from the harbor front. In Prague I paid more than double for crystal necklaces bought on the Old Town Square.
  • Consider booking directly with the hotel or wherever you are going. In London, I e-mail the hotel and since they know me, they give a much lower rate than available on any discount site. Book early for better prices. Be on an e-mail list for last minute deals. A friend and I went on a European river cruise when we were able to grab a cabin a week or so before departure.

When travelling with family of vastly different ages, pack your sense of humour and curiosity. Leave expectations at home.