In case you might be listening to today’s KUDO 1080 AM travel show while driving, or can’t seem to find a pen anywhere in your house to write down all our nuggets of valuable family travel info, here are some highlights…
AKontheGO’s Top Five Travel Tips for Families:
1. Have a Goal. Is the purpose of your trip to see as many things as possible? Do one activity in particular? Expose the kids to a different culture? Have a family meeting of the minds to allow everyone a voice and to place all members on the same page of expectations. This is a big state and no one, not even the most ambitious family, can see everything.
2. Consider Ages and Stages. A family is as strong as its smallest member. Meaning, travel should be planned and implemented around with the smallest or most neediest member in mind. Naps, mealtimes, gear needs should all be considered and dealt with accordingly. That said, sometimes “divide and conquer” is the best way to keep diverse ages and abilities accommodated, but planning ahead is the catch phrase.
3. Plan Carefully and Conservatively. Utilize visitor and convention bureau web sites and phone numbers. Ask specific questions about specific interests of your family. One can always add more activities, but it is difficult to recoup money lost from a cancelled trip, or to have a crummy time. Research, review, revise!
4. Allow Time to do NOTHING. That’s right, nothing. Nada. No planned excursions, bus rides, or boat trips. Kids need unstructured time to just be kids. Ask visitor centers for a web site or map showing local playgrounds or open spaces. Stop by the store, grab some snacks and drinks, and hang out. Every. Day. We usually bring a frisbee or similar item for such times.
5. Keep Familiar Routines. Preaching to the choir, maybe, but it bears repeating, especially in Alaska, where summer daylight can wreak havoc upon bed and meal times. Trust us on this. Many visiting parents allow their kids (regardless of age) to “run free” in the near-24-hour daylight midsummer, only to regret the consequences next morning. Ideas? Use the extra blankets for additional light-blocking effect in hotels or cabins w/ no blackout shades, carry familiar snacks and drinks for picky eaters, and don’t forget the kiddos’ comfort items from home; it can make a huge difference in a strange bed or car.
Our Favorite Places to Take Kids in Alaska:
1. Anchorage. Really, Anchorage? Yes, Anchorage. For kids, Anchorage makes sense due to its central location for all sorts of fun and exciting activities suited to them. Plus, access to day trips North or South can’t be beat. This city is not just for “stopovers”. Check out the blog for additional Anchorage activities.
2. Kenai Peninsula and Homer. Sandy beaches, diverse hiking, access to biking, car camping, wildlife viewing, plus a family-friendly drive South. We dig it. Homer: We go there because we’re not all here. Heehee.
3. Fairbanks. “Frontier” Alaska offers a scenic drive and cool activities along the way, including a stop in Talkeetna to watch Denali mountaineers making final preparations for the climb. Fairbanks always has something going on, year-round, and kids love the Chena river and Hot Springs for some outdoor fun. Watch the blog for an upcoming series on Fairbanks in the Spring!
4. On a Cruise. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. If you think cruising is not for you, think again. There is really no better (or more affordable) way to capture the essence of Alaska than aboard a cruise ship. If you pick carefully (check into our series on the Holland America cruise we took last summer), your family can experience a little bit of everything in one seven or 14-day cruise up the Inside Passage, and accommodate just about every interest.
Happy Travels, and thanks for listening!