How to make the most of your family vacation BEFORE you go!

There are so many things you can do before you leave for your family trip that will ensure you have the best vacation ever!

And no, I’m not talking about packing tips or arranging a pet sitter….

So what are they?

Keep reading! We’ve compiled a list of our top tips to help you get the most out of your family vacation long before the plane even takes off…


Table of Contents

1. Learn some basic phrases in the local language

You may have heard this tip before but it can be a real experience booster for you and your children.

Learning a few simple phrases – at the very least ‘Hello’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ can have an amazing effect.

Don’t be afraid to actually try out the words/phrases you learn. You won’t get laughed at for mispronunciation – you’ll get praised for trying!

Children love the friendly response from locals and it helps them to engage with everything you do.

We’ve even had people go the extra mile for us after attempting to converse in their own language.

Give it a try!

2. Learn about the local culture

Learning a little about the local culture in the country you are heading to will give you a different perspective. You’ll better understand why and how they do things different before you get there.

This is a great learning opportunity for the kids and can prevent any surprise at different customs when you arrive.

Once you know of the country’s specific customs it is a great idea to book a trip in which you get to see those customs in action.

Having respect for the local culture is fantastic way to travel more sustainably as a family.

Remember to adhere to dress codes many countries have them. Such as covering your shoulders/arms when visiting religious buildings.

Top Tip: We always carry a lightweight scarf or two in our bags just in case we need to cover up whilst out and about.

3. Research the history of the country

Do your research before you go.

In a similar way to learning about local culture, learning of the country’s history is another great way to understand the way the country works and why.

Many countries have historical sights you can visit and it is great for the kids (and you) when they see something that they have already learnt about.

For example: when we headed to the Colosseum in Rome it made the history we had learnt previously all the more real! It also meant we could engage with our tour guide to get the most out of the experience.

4. Complete country report sheets

Set the kids the challenge of filling out a Country Report Worksheet before you set off.

These are a great educational resource. It helps them to learn about the country you’re travelling to and can help them be prepared for the trip itself.

On the same theme they may want to fill out a travel journal during/after the trip too to record all of the amazing things you get up to.

You can download and print a Country Report Worksheet from our FREE Family Travel Resource Library

5. Read books about or based in the country

You can either buy or borrow from the library, books which are based on the country you are travelling to.

These do not have to be limited to travel guides. There are many fantastic fiction books out there based in countries all around the world.

This is a great way for your children to become engaged with the country you are travelling to.

For example: before we visited Athens we read the first Percy Jackson book with our children and when we got to Athens they recognised all of the names of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. They had a lot of fun recalling the story. There are also Percy Jackson themed tours that you can take which the kids may love!

6. Buy or make a travel first aid kit

For peace of mind whilst you are away a travel first aid kit is essential.

Sometimes it can be harder than you expect to find a pharmacy for minor ailments/injuries. Be prepared and take your own basic first aid kit.

You can either create one yourself, including items you may need or you can purchase a ready made travel first aid kit.

If you buy one remember you can add items to it to personalise it for your family such as adding a bite and sting relief if it is not already included.

We like this Travel Mini First Aid Kit

7. Consider how you can travel more sustainably as a family

Take time to think about what you can pack/take with you to travel more sustainably as a family.

There are many products that you take away with you that you could easily switch for a more responsible alternative.

Think of the great contribution you will be making to protecting our planet!

Here are some examples of things you could switch:

  • Try not to take any single use plastics – you could use refillable bottles or solid toiletries instead (shampoo/conditioner)
  • Purchase some environmentally friendly sunscreen that is reef safe instead of other brands

There are so many ways that you can make a difference

For some great ideas take a look at our Sustainable Product recommendations

8. Research tours/trips

Are there particular tours/trips that you want to do whilst you are away? Take the time to do a little extra research in advance.

Not all tours are made equal, even though there may be many local businesses offering seemingly similar experiences. Make sure the one that you book is with a company that is ethically responsible.

Also some attractions, such as Wildlife Parks or Theme Parks may be cheaper to book in advance. Whereas for many tours you may get a better deal if you book in person once you have arrived.

For example: When we went to Turkey last year we ended up with personalised and private tours for the same price as a standard tour by visiting a local tour company and booking more than one trip when we arrived.

9. Think about what you will pack

Ok, I know I said there wouldn’t be any packing tips but…

Carefully consider what you are going to pack.

Do you intend to move around a lot? Expecting an action packed adventurous trip?

If so think about whether you really NEED those shoes and extra evening outfits. In our experience, fancy clothes for the evening often end up unworn because you either don’t have the time to get changed or you all go to bed early so you can get up early and make the most of each day!

Why not be brave and give packing light a try!

10. Find out about the local food

Look up what the locals eat and find out what the National dishes are.

Show your children or better yet get them to help you make a National dish to try at home before you go.

This can help even the fussiest eaters be more willing to try the local food once you are there because it won’t seem so unfamiliar. This can be a godsend when there are no familiar alternatives available!

Maybe set a family challenge to try one/two/three different local foods whilst you are there – see who can be the most daring!

For international recipe ideas check out Caroline’s Cooking, she has some fantastic local cuisine recipes you can make at home: Eat the World! International Recipes

11. Get extra sunscreen

You can never have enough sunscreen!!

Make room for an extra tube/spray etc

It is often expensive to buy when you are abroad and the choices on offer may not be environmentally friendly.

Protect your family’s skin and protect the Oceans at the same time! This is the perfect opportunity to easily increase your family travel sustainability.

There are a number of reef safe environmentally sunscreen available to buy. Do your research and pick the one that will work for you.

12. Create travel backpacks for the kids

If your children don’t already have travel backpacks then now is the perfect time to invest in them.

Not only can your children carry their own special stuffed toys instead of filling your hand luggage but you can provide them with all sort of things to keep them occupied on long journeys – perfect for at the airport and on the plane.

Fill their backpacks with things they haven’t seen before and it can keep them quiet for hours!

Download and print some great worksheets to put into their backpacks and help keep your children entertained from our FREE Family Travel Resource Library

13. Take lessons before you go

We saved our favourite, most valuable tip for last – this tip can save you time, money and stress!

If there are particular activities that you wish to do whilst on your family vacation… have a go before you go.

Do not leave it up to the Gods to decide whether your child will thoroughly enjoy the experience or whether they will hate it, scream and cry at how you could be so cruel.

Think I’m exaggerating? Imagine this…

You’ve booked your bucket list experience of riding a horse on a beach in Belize – you’ve waited your whole life for this opportunity!

You are so excited to do this as a family and you have planned a whole day of riding along the surf with your beaming children.

Sounds perfect?

Until you get there and right in front of your eyes your perfect vision goes so terribly wrong.

One of your children refuses point blank to get on their horse and the other starts crying hysterically as soon as they are in the saddle. Your horse then starts to get nervous and bolts off into the distance….

That’s not what you had planned at all! Bucket list dream shattered.

But you can prevent that from happening!

Simply book a taster riding session for your family at an equestrian centre near your home before you book the experience for your vacation.

This gives you all the opportunity to find out just how open and comfortable you are with it and the added bonus is that you all gain a little experience so you won’t be completely new to it when you’re on that picture perfect beach!

There are so many things you can try out close to home before you go away.

Such as kayaking, skiing, rock climbing and even snorkeling.

Don’t leave it to chance!

If you love these tips on how to get the most out of your family vacation before you go, please share this post on social media or forward to a friend!

Find out more...

Affiliate and partner disclaimer: Please note that some of our posts, pages and blogs may contain affiliate links.. We only recommend products & brands we love and that we think you would love, too! We may receive a commission if you click though and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.


How To Make The Most Out of Your Family Vacation BEFORE You Go!

Check out these related posts...

Find out what you can do to make a difference today and on your travels

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Farukh

    This is a good to-do list collection before you start any vacations. I guess a printable street map of the place for vacations is a must before you move on for vacations.

    1. Raising Holmes

      Yes, that is a great idea – especially helpful if you don’t have a transfer booked to get to your accommodation and you need to navigate yourself!

  2. erin

    Fantastic ideas! I always try to learn a few phrases before we go anywhere and as the boys get older, they’re learning more as well. The books and food are a great way to help them engage!

    1. Raising Holmes

      Thanks! Well done for helping your boys be more engaged on your travels ❤️
      We try our best to learn some of the local language too. Even just a few very common words/phrases makes a difference!

  3. Ivan

    I so amazed about this blog post and the quality information you get out of it ! Wow thanks. A lot of tips you shared are so great especially the report sheet! I loved that type definitely going to apply some of the tips and tricks in my next family trip!! 🤩🙌🏼

    1. Raising Holmes

      Fantastic, we’re so glad you enjoyed it and that it is useful for you!
      Enjoy your next trip ❤️

  4. Jenny

    I love this. I try so hard to get my kids prepared for traveling to different places. They are teens now, so this can be a challenge. What I usually do is get them in the car as a captive audience and tell them what they need to know. These tips are great for preparing everyone for what to expect and prepare for.

    1. Raising Holmes

      Thank you ❤️
      Yes, we find that if you tell them what to expect it goes much more smoothly.
      Teens… they’re a whole new challenge we haven’t had to face yet!

Leave a Reply

Share This Page