It’s not just in South Africa that family set ups are changing. Across the world, fewer people are getting married, single parenting is on the rise and blended families are becoming the norm. It’s no longer just mom + dad + two kiddies in tow. And while we embrace all these wonderful new forms that families come in, it can make going on holiday a bit more challenging than usual – if you don’t plan properly.
To help you kickstart the planning when you
and your family are ready to look at travelling again, be it travelling locally
or abroad, here are five top tips for going on holiday as a modern family:
- Get your paperwork in order
If you’re travelling as a permanent single parent, or are just temporarily alone with your kids because your partner is away, make sure you have all the right documentation so you can sail stress-free through passport control. The easiest and least complicated way to ensure you have everything you need is to print the form directly off the relevant Home Affairs website. Complete that and get the documents together on the checklist before you leave, so you can relax knowing they can’t ask for anything else.
- Consider the ages of the kids
It can be difficult to find a holiday destination – and activities – that appeal to all ages of children, from tiny toddlers up to independent teens. When travelling with kids who have a big age gap it’s sometimes more important to satisfy the older one than the baby. A baby will be happy as long as they are fed, cuddled, and entertained, whereas a teen or older child will loudly tell you how bored they feel if you don’t consider them in your destination of choice.
An easy solve if you’ve got children of different ages is choosing to stay at an all-inclusive Club Med resort – the pioneers of the all-inclusive model and the kids club. They have a kids club and child-appropriate activities for children from a few months old up to 18 years old, meaning entertainment for the whole family. Fun fact: kids under 12 also stay free at Club Med’s Mauritius resorts.
- Make sure everyone pulls their weight
Family squabbles on holiday can easily happen as everyone is in each other’s space for an extended period of time – this can derail what should be a happy and memorable occasion. If you’re sharing a holiday house, make sure there’s a roster where everyone takes a turn to cook a meal or tidy up, so that it’s not just one person who ends up doing it all. It’s the same with costs: make sure these are shared equally so no one feels hard done by because they paid for all the groceries. You could even create a kitty for everyday essentials like milk and bread. It’s best to discuss this all before even getting on the plane, so you can manage expectations.
- Make everyone feel valued
These days, there’s also been a rise in extended families going on holiday together, often meeting in one central location but travelling there from all across the world. Our global village means that while the grandparents may live in South Africa, their one son and grandchildren may live in Australia, while their other son lives in England. So how do you arrange an itinerary that ticks all these different boxes? It’s about collaboration.
When on holiday, why not let each person choose one activity that appeals to them, and rotate so everyone gets a turn to choose something. With so many different personalities on the trip, it also helps to choose a destination that offers a little of everything, whether it’s kite surfing for the adrenalin junkie, cultural tours for the seasoned historian, or some relaxed pool time for Mom or Dad.
- Plan, plan and plan again
Complex family structures do add complexity to holidays, and it’s far less likely that trips will be spontaneous if there is another biological parent to consider, who won’t necessarily be coming along on the trip with you and their child. Depending on the custody agreement in place, you will probably need verbal permission to leave the city the child lives in, and written permission and copies of the birth certificate and parent’s ID before leaving the country.
Coordinating a trip with an “unconventional” family set up can feel overwhelming but with enough planning (and being realistic about what each family member wants out of the holiday), you can still line up an unforgettable trip away. It’s well worth it for the bonds you’ll strengthen as a family unit – no matter what form that may take.