I’m in the process of planning our 3rd extended International family trip. This one is to Japan, a place none of us has been and there’s SO MUCH we want to do! However, now that I’m booking day by day, I’m keeping my travel mantra in mind: minimize transitions.
When I recap our trips, I try to document the failures as well as the successes. Almost every failure I can remember involves the movement from location to another. We’ve missed the Eurostar, threw the kids and bags at top speed to make a 3 minute train connection, scrambled for flights and gotten lost in rental cars among other mishaps, and they always happen when we’re loaded with luggage and stressed to make a deadline. In Austria we made the firm check-in deadline for our castle only by the crazily efficient operations of Lufthansa at FRA.
So I go out of my way not to move once we’re set up in a location. This means I plan activities based on what’s a do-able daytrip from our home base, and I plan our home base based on what we want to do. It takes more work on the front end and some flexibility on what you see, but I find it’s definitely worth it.
For example, when we went to Guatemala the kids were 4 and 7. We made the decision to skip Tikal because we were based in Antigua. Instead we visited Iximche. Was it as tall as Tikal? No. But it was 90 minutes from Antigua and was almost entirely deserted. Deserted except for the actual Mayans who still used the site for their holy rituals. And we didn’t have to pack up and board a plane.
The only real fail in our Guatemala trip? Taking an overnight to the beach. We didn’t have to unpack entirely, but between the 3 hour drive each way and our hotel being a far cry from our “home” 2 bedroom condo in Antigua it just didn’t measure up to the rest of the trip.
So in Japan we want to see Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima, but we’re staying in none of the above. Instead, I’m picking a hotel in Osaka which is an easy train ride from all three. We can stay there the entire six nights instead of jumping around, and it’s 1/2 the cost. Yes, we’ll have longer transit times each day, but I’ll take that over moving our entire caravan.
Do you have a mantra you keep in mind when booking your family trips? Please share in the comments.
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