The Flexible Family Holiday

There are many schools of thought when it comes to flexibility, and each school attracts different personalities – not to mention developmental stages. The challenge with a family holiday is that you usually have to please several different personalities (and developmental stages) with the one itinerary. Flexibility no longer means “just following our noses” like it did in our footloose backpacker days. Nowdays it means having an insanely well-thought-out knowledge of alternatives and a willingness to toggle between them as the situation demands. It means sometimes pre-booking to add options in, and sometimes foregoing it so as not to block options out – and knowing which time is which. It means learning six different ways to skin that metaphorical cat, and always having a specific and detailed escape plan in case the metaphorical cat manages to run, metaphorically, away.

Make no mistake – when it comes to flexibility on family holidays, we are talking about a highly orchestrated type of flexibility. It’s more of an art than a science.

But it is worth the effort. Our kids are developing constantly, rapidly and often haphazardly – it’s hard to predict, ahead of time, exactly how they’ll go with a new experience. We need to walk that tightrope of keeping them engaged, but not overwhelmed, and we can’t do that without wobbling a bit to keep our balance. We want to encourage them to explore a little, to stop and notice things that surprise them, to go with the flow when something is either more or less interesting to them than anybody expected. And of course we have to cater for those of us who would rather bang our heads repeatedly against a table than have a completely predictable travel experience.

So yeah. Flexibility. I advocate it for family holidays, but I advise doing it properly and carefully, because the danger of accidentally following your noses right into a nest of wasps or the pole of a streetlight or something is both exponentially greater and carries much more disastrous consequences when you’re travelling with youngsters in tow, than it did when it was just you and the open road.

T demonstrates how flexible you need to be with a 22 month old - in the Royal Gardens, Siem Reap.

T demonstrates how flexible you need to be with a 22-month-old – in the Royal Gardens, Siem Reap.

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