The changing landscape of family travel

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Travel has never been so child-friendly. Long gone are the days when in-flight entertainment was limited to one communal screen, museums hid all their fascinating wares behind glass, and dining out at fancy restaurants was an adults-only affair. Now you can fly wherever you want to (and often for reasonable fares), there’s a huge range of accommodation options for travelling families, and many more sights and attractions are geared towards entertaining small people. And that’s without even mentioning the benefits of technology. Digital maps, translation apps and games for the kids all make life on the road much less stressful than was previously the case.

It’s all about the little ones
No longer an afterthought, now children are specifically catered to as a group with very distinct needs by attractions of all kinds. Museums and art galleries in particular have upped their game with kid-friendly tours, interactive exhibits and a much more tolerant approach to the occasional squawk from a toddler. Many restaurants offer children’s menus (sometimes plus colouring pens and paper) as standard, and big airlines such as Emirates offer kids activity packs. And of course, in-flight entertainment now gives each member of the family the ability to choose what they want to watch, listen to or play. 

Young girls jumping from outrigger canoe into azure Keauhou Bay. Credit: ©Tec Petaja/Lonely Planet 

We all sleep easier, family style
The improvement in accommodation options for families in the last decade or so has been marked. Hotels are generally far better prepared for families, offering adjoining rooms, cots and even babysitting services. Plus there’s a whole range of luxury properties created specifically for the family market with kids clubs, child-friendly menus, play areas and on-site entertainment. Thanks to popular home swap and rental sites it’s now super easy for families to locate great apartments, often with toys, bunk beds and more. Taking it up a level, family-friendly cruises, safaris and sleeper trains all offer unique and interesting ways for families to spend their nights. 

Our children are digital natives
Technology has transformed how children engage with a trip. Sure, the tech-free pursuits still apply – kids from any era adore reading, writing, drawing and playing games. But now they supplement these with a wealth of digital aids: translation apps to converse easily with locals; search engines to locate fun things to do; and Skype or social media to share stories with family and friends back home. Tablets are now key weapons in the parental arsenal against ‘I’m bored’: they get families through delays and meltdowns, and provide respite for siblings who need a bit of space from each other. Just don’t forget to pack the charger (and a converter if needed!).

The white sands of Ao Phrao beach on Ko Kut’s west coast. Credit: ©Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet 

Reproduced with permission from The Family Travel Handbook, Lonely Planet © 2019

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , , , , , ,