I travel a lot for work but the one trip I look forward to the most every year (it’s a family ritual) is our family holiday. We travel with our extended families - kids, siblings, parents and grandparents, so although we call it a “free & easy” holiday, there really is anything particularly “free” or “easy” about our holiday at all! Since I travel so often, I’m always assigned the “organizing” (read family tour guide) role, and no amount of explaining that I travel differently for work (and in different countries!!!!), ever gets me off the hook. Still, I figured, it’s a practical way of showing love for the extended family and over the years, I’ve acquired a few tips for travelling with family, while keeping your style and sanity intact and that’s the topic for this week’s blog.
1. Consolidate The Luggage
Not every traveller needs a luggage. If you’re travelling with toddlers or elders, share the luggage space. Unless you’re travelling for an extended period of time to a not-so-urban country, there is no need to “overpack”. Most cities sell the essentials at roughly the same prices, you don’t have to pack the Tabasco sauce, and the milo packets, although I must confess that I still pack my 2-in-1 coffee when I go to certain cities ;) If you travel in large groups, you may want to consider my Auntie’s tip of tying a ribbon/string on every luggage that you check in, for easy recognition upon arrival. True story, once at the Hong Kong airport, we were a group of 12, waiting impatiently at the conveyor belts because my mother insisted that her luggage was lost. Her non-descript black luggage was the last one revolving on the belt, but she repeatedly insisted it was not hers because the blue ribbon she tied onto her luggage fell off!!
2. Start Fresh
Whether it’s a day flight or a red eye flight (because you got one of those budget deals), you don’t want to look like something the cat dragged in :( at the start of your holiday. Prep your body for the trip by getting a good night of rest and drink plenty of water the day BEFORE you travel. If you need your coffee fix, make sure you don’t leave home without your morning dose or grab a quick one to go at the airport. Be sure to stick to normal routine as much as possible instead of leaving everything ‘til the last minute and being in such a rush that you forget the bare essentials. If you need your breakfast, eat it - don’t go hungry to the airport and a wise woman feeds her family first! Hungry man = grouchy man. Enough said.
3. Keep Your Makeup Simple
An airline insider told me that there is a higher chance of getting upgraded if you look the part! Somehow, the thought stuck with me to this day although I must confess that I find this tip a little hard to stick to sometimes. I’m blessed with good skin, so I forgo the foundation for airline travel, but I do pile on more moisturizer, eyeliner and a coloured lip balm so I don’t look washed out or deathly pale. I have friends that do the works for travel, so it is entirely up to you. My guiding principle would be makeup according to your comfort level. Moisturizer keeps my face hydrated, no foundation so I don’t have to worry about makeup smudges on wraps and blankets, and waterproof eyeliner and a touch of mascara to keep my eyes looking bright and awake (even when I don’t really feel it)! When I arrive at my holiday destination, I’ll probably add a BB Cream and a nice lipstick, so that I’ll look good in the photos but I honestly can’t be bothered with full face makeup, I’d rather spend that time exploring the city!
4. Wear Loose Fitting Clothes And Layer Up
I like to relax when I’m on holiday. No body-con dresses, no minis and no stilettoes. Travelling with elders and kids, you never know when you have to bend over, pick up stuff, clean vomit, rush to the toilet, hoist luggage, lug shopping bags, hike, cycle, climb on top of bus stops to seek out missing family members (I speak from experience, I’m not making this up!) Since I don't think I can ever look “stylish” doing any of these things – in a tight top, mini skirt and heels (all power to those who do!), so I’ve long decided that for me, the trick to looking good is feeling good. I’ve found that for me, layering works like a charm! I’ll be the first to admit I over indulge when travelling – I like to try everything and anything when it comes to food ( comes under the heading – you only live once – might as well –fill-in-the-blanks!!) so I’m much more comfortable in a loose fitting top, after all, I gotta find space for desserts right?
5. Pack The Essentials In Your Handbag
Everybody has their own take on “essentials”. Mine include eyedrops, spectacles (because I wear contacts up the plane!), lip balm, vitamins, neck pillow, socks (because I like to take off my shoes during the long haul flights), cardigan or scarf, moisturizer, medications like antihistamines and Panadol, sunglasses (especially if it’s a red-eye flight) and a scrunggie for the hair. If you’re travelling with kids and elders, bring familiar snacks, sweets or mints - in case they don’t feel good during take-off and landing, Ipads and laptops (with earphones) loaded with age appropriate games and movies, activity books etc to keep the little ones occupied, and eyemask to cover your eyes and feign ignorance (if only for momentary escape)!
6. Wear Black
Kudos to those that plan and pack that flawless travel wardrobe. I for one, have never been able to keep it up. For every time that I managed to style up my travel getup, there are at least 2 or 3 more times, that I simply fall back on my trusted all black (except for a pop of colour) travel kit. Forget what they told you about ‘the new black’. Black is always the new black. There’s no easier way to look effortlessly chic and stylish than to wear black. On travel days, I find that black is the colour to stick to, especially if you’re travelling long-haul (with kids), and want to avoid spillages on neutral tones or crinkly clothes. Black hides everything – it’s the best weapon you have!
7. Be Flexible
I’m a great believer of Murphy’s Law which states that: “Anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong.” Big holiday with the family, big plans, and inevitably, the unexpected will happen. Sometimes we miss the train, we get delayed, someone in our party falls ill in a foreign country that does not speak our language …. It helps to view these as “family bonding opportunities” or “teaching moments”, rather than “unlucky circumstances” and take turn playing the victim. Doesn’t serve anybody, plus it’s setting a bad example for the kids. Instead, working through it as a family, adjusting our schedules, cracking our brains to get around and solve the issue together, and keeping our humour and wits together, is always the better alternative.
A family that travels together, stays together! Happy Holidays friends ;)