Many think that you might as well throw plans of going away on an adventurous holiday out of the window as soon as you have kids, but this certainly doesn’t have to be the case. Yes, travelling with kids brings with it a whole load of new rules, but plan well in advance and you are sure to have a smooth journey. Here are our top ten tips for travelling with your little ones.
Picking the right destination
The first step will be to choose where you are actually going, and this is where your kids’ needs come in. You need to find the right balance between somewhere that will interest you but will also cater to your children. Think of places that have both kid-friendly attractions and what you look for in a holiday, whether that is cultural experiences or just relaxing on the beach.
Furthermore, think of the little things. Do you have a stroller, and if so, is the destination easily navigable? Will the flight time be too long? Is it a city that has hotels close to the big attractions?
Book everything in advance
It’s hard enough turning up to a train station, hotel or excursion not having booked anything when you are travelling solo, let alone when you have kids to worry about. It is a shame that you can’t be as spontaneous as you’d want to be, but you would rather be able to have a place to sleep, right?
Even in your hotel, don’t assume that it will have childcare facilities, such as high chairs and cribs – call ahead to confirm availability.
And talking of accommodation, you will want to book separate rooms for you and your partner, and your children. It may come out a bit more expensive but at least you all end up with a good night’s rest, which we all know is the key to a successful family holiday. It will also allow you and your partner to have some well-deserved alone time – you want to enjoy your holiday at the end of the day!
Some hotels do not have two-bedroom suites, so be sure to do your research beforehand. Sometimes, your best bet is to go for an apartment rental.
Insurance, insurance, insurance!
Once you are all booked up, the next big thing to buy is travel insurance. When going abroad with little ones, it is extremely important to play it safe and get the right plan to cover everyone in the family. If you have any questions about what cover you need, do your research online or speak to a specialist advisor.
You don’t want to be that family that brings their entire home with them on holiday. It can be scary going away for the first time, as you will always fear that you may need a particular item in case of an emergency. However, as a rule, if you don’t definitely need something, don’t take it. Also, unless you are going into the middle of the rainforest, you will be able to get most toiletries and everyday objects at local supermarkets and shops.
It is not just about baggage allowances but the prospect of having to look after two heavy suitcases and three wayward kids in the airport. Scary stuff.
Load up the apps
Before you go, be sure to also load up a device, such as a small laptop or tablet, with various entertainment downloads to keep the kids busy en route. These could be movies, cartoons, games or TV shows, but it will be something to keep them quiet on those seemingly long flights.
You may even want to pop on the tablet some soothing noises or a recording of your own voice reading a book. You can then place the device next to them as they sleep on holiday or via headphones to keep them asleep on flights.
Keep calm on flights
No one likes that screaming baby on a flight, but one day, it might just be yours. You will have to face the reality that, at one point, even your angelic kid will have a tantrum and how you react will lay down how the rest of the journey goes.
The first thing to do is to remain calm and don’t worry about what others think, they will actually be sympathising with you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to bribe
Whether it is when travelling or on the holiday itself, don’t be afraid to give your kids a reward or two for good behaviour. It could be a souvenir from a historical attraction. It could be a toy for them to play with. It could just be some ice-cream by the beach. Either way, they will remain good if they know a treat is coming their way.
Take things slow
Remember: you are not travelling alone anymore. Don’t try and squeeze in a load of attractions in a single day as it will just tire the kids out and leave them knackered for the rest of the trip. Travelling is supposed to be fun for all ages so take things slowly, and even on a busy day, leave a day after aside to recharge batteries by the pool or on the beach.
This is the last but the most important tip of all. It is during these holidays that you and your family will create treasured memories for years to come, so even through all that stress and annoyance, take a step back and appreciate the small moments. You may never get them again – you know how fast they grow up!