Planning the perfect family getaway is harder than it sounds. Creating a great itinerary for two people can be hard enough, but choosing activities, accommodation and destinations that fits an entire family unit – sometimes with the added stress of limited vacation time – is quite a logistics feat!
This is the same stress and fear that sometimes keeps families from planning a holiday in Asia, which can sometimes feel like an intermediate to advanced travel destination – and a difficult place to safely and easily travel with the kids in tow. While destinations just a stone’s throw from your family’s back garden might be easier to get to, they won’t have the immersive and educational impact that travelling to a truly foreign culture will. After all, with jobs becoming more international and the effects of globalisation on the rise, helping your kids explore the world and become ‘global citizens’ is not just fun – it’s smart, too! International travel is just one of the ways you can jump-start your kids international education – but how do you start?
Ever since we began helping families explore Asia’s best destinations, we’ve learned a thing or two about creating the perfect family getaway. Here to help you knock your next trip out of the park, are some of our favourite tips for making the most of your family holiday!
Tip #1: Break a sweat.
Whether you’re travelling with toddlers or teenagers, the key to the perfect family holiday is to keep things exciting. In a region where a language barrier might be a difficulty, one of the best ways to inject some excitement into your trip is with physical activities – which are fun in every language.
For younger kids, it’s best to choose activities that are more flexible for time and difficulty. Try activities that you can wrap up quickly and easily if the kids get cranky or tired – countryside cycling or a water park are great ideas, since they’re usually not far from a comfortable hotel and other creature comforts.
If the kids are older, don’t be afraid to add a bit of adrenaline into the mix, too! Asia is chock full of heart-racing activities that are perfect for fun family bonding. Try zip-lining in the Laotian jungle or a white water rafting adventure in Thailand!
Tip #2: Get off of the beaten track.
According to an AAA survey on family travel planners, 43% say that crowds at tourist spots are one of the biggest frustrations in family travel planning. It makes sense – no one wants to battle crowds with an entire family unit in tow, since crowds often equal stress, and stress can mean temper tantrums and sour moods.
Thankfully in Asia, there are plenty of places not so far outside of major tourist destinations that get you well off of the tourist trail. If you’re travelling with kids, embarking on a short adventure into lesser-travelled areas is a great way to mix up the experience while avoiding the crowds. Plus, this allows your kids to get up-close and personal with locals in areas less accustomed to foreign visitors – and this is a great way to get your kids involved in communicating with people whose lives are very different from their own.
And getting off of the beaten track doesn’t mean you need to forego the bucket list destinations, either. Just outside of Hue in Vietnam is stunning cycle-friendly countryside and the chance to have lunch with local nuns. On the outskirts of Siem Reap (home to the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple Complex) is charming Chansor Village, a perfect place for your kids to learn about traditional Khmer village life while supporting the local community there.
Tip #3: Learn something new (together).
There are few experiences better for family bonding than learning something new side-by-side. Asia is full of learning opportunities – and since the region is home to cultures and customs entirely different from the West, it’ll likely be a learning experience for every generation in your family. But beyond just bonding, science says that learning things while you travel is good for your health and happiness, too.
Recent studies by US-based neuroscientist Nina Kraus suggests that learning new skills increases your ability to learning as a whole, making it easier for you to learn other skills, too. That’s because learning new things and being in new environments builds new connections in your brain and increases neuroplasticity (a fancy word to describe how our brain changes and adapts). Not only is this kind of brain-exercise great for kids, but it’s great for adults, too; scientists believe that learning new skills can help fend off dementia and increase brain health in older adults.
During your family getaway, make time to sit down and get outside of your comfort zone. Learn how to paint Batik in the ethnic communities in Sapa; weave and dye traditional silk scarves in Luang Prabang; or learn to make tasty Thai specialties in a cooking class in Bangkok. Whatever you choose, rolling up your sleeves and learning something new together is a great way to spice up your getaway.
Tip #4: Look for specialist accommodations and activities.
While it’s not imperative that every activity or hotel on your family getaway is specifically designed for kids, it certainly helps to have some special attention paid to younger members of your travel group every now and again.
For adventurous families with younger kids along for the ride, many outdoor companies have special training and gear for tinier travellers. Outdoor Asia – partners of Buffalo Tours’ for rock climbing in Mai Chau and kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam – have highly trained staff that know how to keep kids safe and having fun. Plus, many hotels have special kids’ areas and activities to keep younger ones entertained while parents and grandparents take a rest, too.
Tip #5: Ask for help.
At the end of the day, planning a family getaway in Asia is not a one man job. Seeking out the help you need to put together a perfect itinerary takes special expertise and destination knowledge – the same kind of knowledge that makes Buffalo Tours the perfect partners in family holiday planning. Working with us means you can rest assured that each activity is safe, reliable and – above all – fun!
Working with a travel company like ours means you can make the most of your time on holiday while saving lots of time and stress during the planning stage. Plus, it also means you’ll have the support you need in your destinations should you need help on the road – which allows you to focus on your family and having fun.
Are you planning a family getaway in Asia? Let our travel experts help you create the perfect itinerary that’s tailored to the needs of every family member! Check out some of our family tours, or customise your own.