Set your family up for optimal travel success by ensuring you're never stranded + enjoy safe, convenient transport.
Unless your idea of an epic vacation is settling into one spot and going nowhere but the spa, pool, and on-site restaurants, you’ll need transportation. While rental cars certainly allow the most freedom, the complexity of driving in certain areas may be overwhelming, and require you hire a driver. Or maybe you’ll be on an island where boat transports, or mopeds, are the prime means for getting around.
Regardless of the type of transportation you’ll need, it’s optimal to think about this ahead of time, and organize as much of it as possible before you arrive. On two separate occasions we failed to do this, and spent three days stuck at our vacation house because all the rental cars and drivers in the area were booked. #VacationFail
So, how do you figure out the best way to get around your destination of choice?
Consider Your Itinerary
If your selected activities will have you all over the place, and you’ve elected not to use a tour company, you’ll want to utilize a rental car, or hire a driver for areas that are tricky to navigate. For example, before our Cuba adventure we researched car services and found a company that could provide a massive van/bus and driver for our group of 15.
On the other hand, if you would rather not deal with driving, consider hiring a tour guide (who also provides transport) who helps you bypass navigation and the idiosyncrasies of driving in an unknown area. This option can be especially beneficial if you have an overflowing list of activities and sites you’d like to check off, and need support organizing it into a manageable itinerary.
Another consideration is activities that will require reservations on ferries, trains or other non-car modes of transport. For those not using an all-inclusive tour company, it’s best to book these specialized modes of transport as soon as your itinerary is set.
Analyze a Google Satellite Map
Do a search for your accommodations and analyze the surrounding area on this map. These satellite images can help you determine if there’s a walkable path to nearby eateries, landmarks, and other sites you’ll want to access. While some accommodations might say, for example, that they’re “only .5 miles from downtown!” that half a mile might be up a steep path, or down a winding dirt road.
Think About Driving Customs
If you’ll be heading to an area that has similar driving practices to the ones where you live, and you’ll have access to a navigation system, a rental car might be your ideal transport option. However, if you’re going to an area where they drive on the opposite side of the road, or many motorist’s have a free-for-all mentality (hey there, India, Thailand and Mexico City) it might be best to utilize drivers familiar with these customs.
Decide How Adventurous You Want to be With Long Distance Commutes
If you’ll be staying in more that one location during your adventure, and need to cover many miles to get from A to B, consider all the options for getting there, and the needs of your family. In many areas, you can choose from air, train, bus, car, or (sometimes) boat travel. If you’re traveling with small kids it may be your top priority to chose the option that gets you there ASAP. But if you have older children who are up for an expedition, you might consider more unique transport, like a bus or train, which will likely have you communing with locals and seeing more of the land.
Regardless of what you select, it’s best to book the necessary tickets, or at least heavily research essential information like train or bus terminal locations and schedules, so you’re good to go when it’s time to go.