July 25, 2016

The Dedicated Family Vacation Planner

I believe the majority of people out there rather enjoy daydreaming about their next travel destination, but planning a vacation can be a daunting task for even the most frequent travellers. It’s best to be prepared for anything that may come up during a vacation, however do remember to enjoy the journey rather than focusing too much on getting to the actual destination. Life itself is a journey and after all it’s the moments in life that counts.

For me being a daddy, husband and son means that my vacation planning has to take into account my parents, my wife and my kid – now that doesn’t sound so simple does it? I’m the self-proclaimed dedicated family vacation planner of my family, some call me “adik” tour guide while others call me “macha” or “thambi”. They’ll go like “arey macha where to next..?” or “dey thambi mana mau pergi ini..?” While travelling normally I'd be a little preoccupied between my role as a daddy and the role of a tour guide. For those that have the similar role of family vacation planner a.k.a tour guide "keluarga" or even those expecting to become the man of the house continue reading as some of these tips will sure come in handy on your next adventure. 

Tip No. 1 Remember Your Role As A Tour Guide

First things first whose the tour guide? You or Me? During a family vacation there a few regular roles that your family members adopt almost simultaneously as they step out of the front door on the way to the airport or the next toll gate. Well my list goes like this 1.The Boss (follow what I say or else) 2.The Laid Back Dude (Meet up here in 10mins – shows up after 30mins) 3.The Follow Wherever You Go I Go (I got to take a leak- wait me too, I left my wallet-me too) 4.The Exhausted One (after walking for 30mins – tired laa go hotel first can?) 5. The Kid (casually throws tantrums and occasionally acts cute) 6.The Tour Guide (follow me I know best, I’ve done tons of research so you should trust me). The list could go on and on but let’s just stop there. So why does the tour guide rank last among the others? The reason is simple yet sounds complicated. Being the dedicated family tour guide means you have to put all the other people’s priorities before your own. If you are able to do that then you’re halfway there, as for me I’m still work in progress but as hard as it may seem to be, nothing can replace the smile on my family’s face except of course an ice cold caramel macchiato.

Tip No. 2 Hotel Selection

When planning a vacation, no doubt the two (2) biggest expenses are the flight tickets and the hotel accommodation. Now if you’re travelling alone a hostel or a simple motel would do just fine, after all it’s just a place where you need to put your head to rest, get some shut eye and recharge for tomorrows adventure. A rule of thumb is if you can’t picture your family sleeping in a joint like that then it’s best to look for another place. A few things to consider when selecting your accommodation include:

1.Location Location Location (The best combination would be close vicinity to public transport, 24hour convenience stores, halal restaurants and a plus point would have to be a shopping mall).

2. Budget (Hotels are only for stashing your stuff and sleeping at night) most hotel booking sites like agoda, booking.com and trivago have filter functions where you can select the price range per night. So figure out how much you’re willing to fork out per night and short list the best three (3) options

3. Read the Reviews (where better to get some inside information on the place you have never been to?) normally what I do is shortlist at least 2 or 3 hotels of interest and read the reviews on agoda and tripadvisor. I find that the reviews on tripadvisor are always more helpful and in depth compared to the short reviews people leave on agoda or booking.com. Once you’ve gone through all the reviews of the hotels you’ve shortlisted then only should you decide on which hotel to finally book. Most hotels will opt to show off great looking pictures on their sites that is why I prefer to see the ugly truth on tripadvisor where there’s an album called “travelers photos” uploaded by people who’ve stayed there and are more than generous to share their experience.

Tip No. 3 Getting Around – Transport Logistics

For each and every travel destination there is bound to be the best mode of transport to tour the nearby tourist attractions. When I planned my family vacation to Istanbul, Turkey and Seoul, South Korea getting around the city was a breeze as both destinations had massive metro rapid transit railway networks. Travelling by metro (train) has it's pros and cons. You'll probably see less of the scenery that you're passing by if you take the metro which is normally underground in most places (depending on the location) however an extensive amount of time can be saved from travelling in taxis and being caught up in traffic. In certain parts of the world it can be a memorable experience to try out local transportation such as the "tuk-tuk" in Thailand, "bajaj" or "angkutan" in Indonesia and the trishaw in Vietnam or other countries. However it is advisable to know the base rate for the fare to avoid being ripped off or being succumbed to scams by local transport operators.

Tip No. 4 Preplan Meal Venue and Time

Food, Eat, Drink, Restaurant – these words combined with What, When and Where can be a disaster and has proven to be the toughest question anyone could face throughout their lifetime especially when it involves women. I mean that in a nice way because you know how women always wants the best for their man and children so they have to be a little bit choosy when it comes things that put in their mouths right? So if you find the question of “what to eat?” to be a tough question to answer back home then I suggest you preplan your meal venue and time before the actual vacation takes place. This tip can potentially save a whole bunch of emotions from stirring up your holiday fun and enjoyment. Google is your best friend when it comes to finding the best suitable places to indulge your taste buds with local cuisines. How I do it? Get the name of restaurant through reviews from travel bloggers or friends who have been there and look the place up on Tripadvisor where there is bound to have a list of reviews from people all around the world.

Tip No.5 Know A Little Bit of Language & Culture

One of the best things of travelling is getting to know the language and culture of the destination you’re going to. There are roughly 6000+ languages spoken all over the world and learning a foreign language can potentially give you the advantage of connecting with the new people all over the world. This would give you a better experience while travelling and enable your mind to see fascinating new things from a new perspective as well as boost brain power and increase your memory. Opening up to a new culture allows you to be more flexible and appreciative of other ways of doing and looking at things. Personally for me knowing a little bit of language comes in handy while on the look for direction and also bargaining for the best prices while shopping. I noticed the locals tend to appreciate tourists even more when we speak their language giving them a sense of familiarity.

Follow these simple tips to make your next family vacation a memorable life event and qualify yourself as a dedicated family vacation planner..!! I’ll be writing and sharing my travel experience in the next entries to come. Stay tuned and I hope it will help you on your journey across the world with the your loved ones..!! Thanks for reading..!!