For a family that loves to travel, being a resident of Mumbai is an ideal convenience. A short drive of 3-4 hours from the suburbs of Mumbai can take you to lovely beaches, hill stations, and many more getaway locations. Additionally, Mumbai is the true “gateway to India” with excellent connectivity to the rest of India, and also to international locations.
As a couple, we love to travel and have been to popular tourist destinations including Kerala, Kashmir, Goa, Rajasthan, and Singapore/ Malaysia in the last 5-6 years. My son has been a part of our travels since the age of 2, and loves the experiences and learnings that he gets during these vacations. As a family, we believe in travelling together not only as a break from routine, but also to share and cherish family memories.
So, besides the entertainment kits and the travel medicine aids, what are the points parents must keep in mind when travelling with their kids? Here are a few of my tips:
- Kid-friendly destination or not?: While there are plenty of kid-friendly destinations like Singapore and Disney World in California, you can never really know why a kid may love a particular place. My 9-yr old niece, who stays in the US, recently spent a week with us at our native village in coastal Karnataka. Her first impression of our ancestral house was of disappointment, but slowly, she began to like the village kind of life: the beaches, the food, the freedom to just move around, and the lazy pace of life. In fact, at the end of her India stay, she had ranked the village stay as the best part of her travels. So, you can never know what kids may like, so do not spend too much time deciding whether your next vacation destination is kid-friendly or not.
- A new destination every year for vacation: For family vacations, aim for one major vacation to a new destination (typically during your child’s school vacation), or 3-4 short weekend breaks for each year. Going to the same destination every year can become a boring routine for kids. Children satiate their curiosity, when exploring new destinations, which also adds to their understanding of things. Depending on where you stay, you can also plan for weekend getaways for a couple of days during the year. For instance, a drive to a popular hill station during the monsoons is an ideal mind refresher for you and your kids.
- Plan for an international destination: If you have a kid over the age of 10 years, then you should start planning for an international vacation. With rising incomes and international travel becoming cheaper, you can always travel to an international destination once in 5-6 years. For growing children, an international vacation can be a life-changing experience, especially knowing about their culture, people, and traditions. This is particularly important as your child lives in a “global” village and would need to interact with people from different cultures and languages.
- An expensive vacation need not be the best vacation: This is particularly important when parents plan vacations with kids. They tend to choose the most expensive vacation package, keeping in mind the comfort level of the kids. For a balanced perspective of life, children need to be exposed to the expensive and the cheapest forms of holidaying. Depending on the destinations and your location, your budget can vary, which is fine. It is more important to expose your children to different experiences, rather than opt for limited destinations.
For family memories, enrich your child’s mind with the thrill of travelling to different places. Travel will expand your child’s horizons and bring a broader perspective to their thinking and learning.