Family Travel A to Z: Exploring
Even if you’re intending on spending your entire holiday lazing about the pool, there will be some element of exploration that will need to be done. For instance, you’ll need to find the way to the bar and, more importantly, the route to find the kids club so you can ensure a relaxing and kid-free day!
Exploring is integral to every family holiday. It can be the central platform if you are road tripping cross-country or undertaking a big European adventure. Having the confidence to go out with your kids and make the most of your time away is crucial to how much you will all get out of your trip.
You shouldn’t be scared to explore your surroundings. Here are some suggestions to make exploring your surroundings less stressful and lot more comfortable and fun.
6 tips for exploring with kids on a family holiday
Take the time to research your destination before you depart
It makes sense to research your destination before you leave so you can develop a plan of attack. For our US trip we undertook extensive research to understand the best days to visit each park at Walt Disney World (based on opening hours and daily attractions). We familiarised ourselves with the facilities at our resort and made advanced dining reservations at a number of sought after restaurants. While this level of planning can take out some of the spontaneity usually associated with exploring your surroundings, it made us feel confident in taking this trip as an autism family and made us even more excited for the experiences to come.
Make a beeline for the local visitor information centre
There is one of these goldmines in every town. The local visitor information centre is the go-to place to find out everything worth knowing about your destination. They will have a wall of pamphlets, suggestions for the best local activities for kids, nuggets of information about the best kept local secrets and knowledge of what’s on while you’re in town. It makes sense to use the local visitor information centre as the base for your exploration plans.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – utilise local knowledge
If you’re staying at a hotel, motel or camping ground, make use of the knowledge of the staff. This also goes for staff at local establishments like pubs, restaurants, convenience stores and service stations. Ask about the pick of the local sights as well as the best way to get around to see them. Also find out the secrets of where you are staying and how you can best utilise the facilities at your doorstep. You never know what you will find out unless you take the time to ask the question.
Ensure you have a SIM and a working phone
I don’t know about you but I pretty much rely on my phone for everything these days. When I’m out and about it acts as my link to the internet and to all the tools I rely on to navigate my world, such as maps. Make sure you invest in a local SIM card so you can still use your phone when travelling abroad. If you prefer, you could also utilise international roaming when overseas but, be mindful of the exorbitant charges that usually go with that option. We used roaming in NZ but are went with local SIM cards in the US for the sake of cost. Having access to the internet on your phone will give you a sense a comfort and a fallback if you do end up getting lost on your explorations.
Look up local bloggers
It pays to dig deeper into Google searches to find bloggers who specialise in writing about your intended destination or region. If you look hard enough you can find information on pretty much anything. For instance, we followed several bloggers who write about being gluten free in Orlando which gave us the confidence to trust in our ability to find places to dine when we were there. Blogs can be a fantastic source of local information to set you and your family up to have the best time exploring on your holiday – make use of them.
Just head out there and explore!
If all else fails, just wing it. Enjoy the sense of adventure and freedom as you meander through the streets of a place that is far from home. Take in the sights. Savour the smells. Share in the feeling of excitement as you explore with no set purpose or destination. That is truly what holidaying is all about, even with kids in tow!
Do you have any suggestions for exploring on a family holiday to add to the list?
Learn even more strategies, systems and tools to successfully travel as an autism family in our new guide – click on the image below to get your copy today!