Traveling with kids can be a nightmare if unprepared. There are so many things that can go wrong that the kids can be the last thing you want disrupting even more. Luckily today we have gadgets that our parents didn’t have. Here though are a few points you might consider to help in your next trip with the kids.
- Early morning bookings
If your flight or trip leaves in the early hours of the morning you normally need to be at the airport or port approximately 1 – 2 hours before time. So, how do you get your kids ready for this? My tip is get them in comfortable tracksuits from the night before, readily dressed for the trip. Try not to wake them up in the morning and put them in the car asleep. Keep them asleep as far as possible.
Remember when they are awake try to put them to their normal routine as quick as possible and even late nights should not be on the first day…Cranky kids = angry or frustrated parents.
- Hand luggage saviours
When travelling with kids, travelling light is not an easy task but you must try as too much carrying around can really lower the spirits. Apart from the obvious like your money and id/passport, these are things you must have in your hand luggage when with kids:
- Wipes/Toilet wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Nappies )
- Extra clothes for kids (one set per child) – this is not only necessary for just in case your suitcase doesn’t arrive but also just in case your child feels poorly and vomits in transit. Put these in zip lock bags so they are easy to find when needed.
- Band aids
- Any essential medication like nose sprays, calpol (or similar fever lowering, pain reducer), lip balm, panadols.
- Any gadgets and their chargers
- Snacks (not too many, but something that your kids will surely enjoy). If your kids can chew it’s a good idea if you take up some chewy sweets for take-off and landing so ears can pop naturaly.
- Drawing/activity pack, even for you!
- A foldable bag in your hand luggage to carry your jackets when not needed.
- Be safe, keep together
Kids tend to roam around and need to be free at times. Airports, train stations and other areas packed with people can be scary for parents. There are various ways to keep kids close to you, and teaching them what to do if they get lost is the first thing you should do. When they are too young to learn your name and number, there are bracelets you can make for them or buy them. Better safe than sorry. Yet, let’s try to think about other things we can do. When you travel buy kids clothes that are bright coloured. Even when going to the beach it would be safer to buy swim suits that are bright and colourful so that they stand out. While it’s safer for adults to not look like tourists, it’s way safer for kids to stand out of the crowd.
Another place to stick together are public toilets, if they are able to go to the toilet alone explain to them that it might not be safe. My 9 year old son doesn’t enjoy coming in the ladies toilets with me anymore so my husband takes him to the men’s even though he can go on his own I suggest they don’t. Once I was super glad I insisted! There are weird and rude people out there, our story didn’t end badly but it could have if my son was alone! I am not a super protective mother, at times my husband disapproves of my relaxed ways but when I am travelling I can never be too cautious.
- Routine – yes I know it sounds boring.
We all wish to go out late and enjoy the night life when we are on holiday but if this is not the norm for your kids don’t expect the kids to stay up just for the holiday. Keeping to routine is the safest and most fun way to enjoy your holiday. If your kids sleep normally at 8pm try to keep the same sleeping patterns. I know, that it is a bit sad if your kids tend to enjoy waking up by break of day but, see it from another perspective, you can get to the attractions before many other tourists that take it easy. If you keep their routine you would also know when they are hungry so you can plan if you should enter a quiet area or not. Obviously this tip is for those kids that stick to a routine at home, if you are those lucky parents that their kids don’t get affected by routine then skip this tip all together.
- Carry your first meal
Those of you who believe that travelling light is the most important thing when you travel, you might not agree with this “band aid”. Every time I have travelled with kids it seems that the first day we arrive we spend most of the time looking for a place to eat and normally it would be the worst place ever (unless someone from little big explorers recommends you a place). On our weekend in Venice trip I thought of a trick to not waste time and I’m so glad we did it; I took a can of readymade sauce and a packet of pasta, I even took up some frozen minced beef in a small cooler. All these went into our large suitcase and believe it or not when we got to our apartment after our travels we only wished we had got the cheese too! You can’t do this in a hotel but we love to go to apartments for these type of reasons. You could buy meals on the plane but they are not my favourite and the portions are too small anyway.
- Hot drinks on a plane??
Unfortunately we learnt the hard way to never take a hot drink on a plane when travelling with kids. Or if you really need it, don’t use the flimsy tables that you get in front of you on cheap flights. Somehow my tea was knocked over and my little one burnt his hand and body while on one of our ventures. Luckily there was no serious damage but I learnt to either sit on the outside seat while placing my cup on the ground or just not order at all.
Our contributor Sara has some more tips for travelling with tips especially with little toddlers.