Planning a kid-friendly holiday? Take notes

Planning a kid-friendly holiday? Take notes Cover Image

Planning a family holiday is no picnic. Sid Balachandran takes you on this humorous journey complete with checklists in hand!

My wife and I love to travel. In fact, one of the first things that we’d decided upon when we got together was that we would try and travel as much as we could. Of course, life has a strange way of throwing a spanner into that giant ‘wheel of plans’ that you make. As we sort of matured, jobs and money took on more priority and our travels considerably reduced. However we still continued to take a lot of off-beat holidays, where we discovered the real beauty of Nature.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m talking in the ‘past’, it is because I’m reminiscing about these holidays that we used to take. It should suffice to say that once we had a ‘third member’ join our team, the terms ‘holiday and vacations’ took on slightly different meanings; especially planning for them.

Confused? Perhaps, I can explain with a little story.

Back Then – circa 2005

Back when we were still dating, we were often shuttling between different cities in India. Being based at different locations meant that most of our weekends were spent travelling on buses or trains to spend a few hours with each other. Once we got married and officially became a ‘twosome’, most of our holidays became quirky, fun, free-style, come-what-may discoveries, executed with a ‘Let’s see how it goes’ attitude. Since neither of us were adventurers in the true sense of the word, the whole idea of the vacation was to see a few new places, eat some local food and spend some time with each other.

The planning back then, was actually pretty simple. We’d just finalise a place or location, use the wonders of Google/Wikipedia/Trip Advisor and other online guides, randomly pick a hotel, completely skip itineraries and just, to put it simply, ‘get up and go’. This beautiful “let’s do something new and exciting for the holiday this time” phase for us as a couple lasted until mid-2011, when we ‘discovered’ that our son had put down his application to join us on this ‘ride’.

The Now

Designing, planning and executing a “family holiday” is filled with hours of man/woman-work.

IF you’re a parent, you’re probably aware of what’s coming next. Since our son was born abroad, the first official travel trip that we took with him was flying down to India to visit family, friends and the rest. And as you can probably guess, it wasn’t much of a vacation, but more of a ‘You’ve got to come down, visit those temples, seek blessings for the kids from the elders’ kind of trip.

That aside, the first major ‘family holiday’ that we planned was a trip to Singapore in 2013. Now, I must stress this part. Until I started researching for this trip, I had absolutely no idea about the kind of planning and patience this trip would need. If you’ve already taken a holiday with your young one(s), you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. For the rest of you, fret not – your turn will be here soon.

Designing, planning and executing a “family holiday” is filled with hours of man/woman-work. Gone are those days of “free-birding”, where you could literally take off to a new destination, and enjoy yourself come what-may. In our case, they’ve been replaced by the below mentioned thoughts/ questions/ dilemmas.

[Note: there is no exhaustive list of questions or checklists. The below ones are just samples and snippets about the four major activities a usual holiday would entail – travel, clothing, accommodation and food]


{Thoughts back then}

  • Let’s travel by train/bus if we can
  • It’s going to be an adventure
  • Book the cheapest flight available – who needs those frills, bells and whistles anyway?
  • Why waste money on an organized sight seeing tour – we can do the whole thing cheaper if we walk!

{Thoughts now}

  • What flight do I book – are they infant/kid friendly? Do they have baby/kids meals? Do they have in-flight entertainment?
  • Let’s do an organized tour – do they take kids?
  • Will the kids/baby like the mode of travel? Can the kid adjust to the long travel time?


{Thoughts back then}

  • That’s it – 2 pairs of jeans, couple of t-shirts, a few undergarments – I’m good!
  • Who cares about the weather – rain, snow or sunshine, I’ll just wear the same things!

{Thoughts now}

  • How many diapers do I take?
  • How many tops for the little one?
  • How many nightdresses for the baby?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • Should I pack an extra pair of shoes?


{Thoughts back then}

  • Let’s crash at that bed & breakfast – it’s only a few bucks;
  • Booking a room – oh come on, we’ll just stay with friends;
  • Let’s camp; We’ll just sleep in the car!
  • So what if we’ve got to drive/walk to those tourist spots – it’s only Rs800 a night for the place, and they have bunk beds.

{Thoughts now}

  • Is the hotel kid-friendly? Do they have a nice swimming pool/play area for kids?
  • Are they non-smoking? Do we have to travel a lot from the hotel/accommodation to the “kid-friendly” tourist spots?
  • Do they provide a baby cot? Do they have lifts? Do they have an on-call doctor? (I could go on and on with this one)


{Thoughts back then}

  • I’m going to try this one, that description sounds great;
  • I should definitely try some street food;
  • Who needs reservations – let’s walk in;

{Thoughts now}

  • Do they have baby/kids meals?
  • Is the restaurant baby-friendly?
  • Do the eateries have a baby chair? (Ok that’s not food, but it sure fits in);
  • That street food looks nice, but maybe I should stick to something I know – after all, if one of us falls ill, the other will have to look after both the baby and the ill-fated one!

To even try and put down a comprehensive list is a sin that I shall not attempt. And as you’ve probably noticed, the key phrase that you’re likely to frequently encounter when you have planned/will plan a family holiday with your little one(s) is “kid/baby-friendly”. That phrase is capable of turning you from a laid-back, casual, let’s-not-stress-over-too-much-planning kind of person into a meticulous, detail-oriented, have-planned-for-any-eventuality kind of person who is sometimes too tired from all this planning and thinking, to actually enjoy it fully.

Whatever your reasons might be to put in the effort of planning for kid-friendly (see, there’s that phrase again) holiday, the twinkling in your little one’s eye and the smile on your partner’s face, will be enough reward and motivation to make you keep doing it again. . . and again. . .and again.

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