How to Travel with kids - and Survive!
It doesn’t matter if you are traveling with kids for the first or fifteenth time, it’s never an easy feat.
While the plane, train, boat or car journeys en route to your destination used to be about relaxation and planning the days ahead, travelling with children means this part of the holiday is often better stricken from everyone’s memory.
However, as tricky as navigating the globe with little ones can be, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you are as well prepared as possible, minimising the risk for disaster.
1. Allow more time than you think you’ll ever need
How long does it take you to get out the door on a regular day with your baby or toddler in tow? Well, when you’re traveling you need to take this and add some more because children won’t understand the time-critical nature of travel as much as you wish they might.
The best way to guarantee a calm journey – whether that’s by car, plane, train or bus – is to factor in enough time for any level of tantrum, numerous toilet breaks and anything in between. Sure, on a good day this might mean you have some spare time before departing but on a tougher day, this could be the difference between making your plane or not.
If you are travelling by car, one good tip is to factor in your own pit stops – so you know in advance how long the journey will take as a whole with these included and it won’t seem as long for your kids with various breaks.
2. Slow and easy wins the race
If you’re used to being the type of person who leaps out of their seat to grab their luggage as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, you’ll need to adjust your thinking when you travel with kids. In general, trying to rush on any type of journey with children in tow is a recipe for disaster.
The best thing you can do is relinquish your control and just do things at the pace and timing that suits you and your family.
3. Don’t queue unnecessarily
Airports can be very distracting for children because of how busy and large they are. The last thing you want is to end up in a queue with a child who is desperately trying to wander away and explore the sites of the terminal.
If your airline offers online check-in, do it. If your airport has a family security area or a fast track option, you should avail of it to make the processing time as smooth as possible.
Whether you are travelling by road, rail, sea or in the sky, on-board entertainment is critical to keep your little ones occupied for the duration of the trip. However, one tip for long haul trips is to try and book overnight travel so the kids can sleep for as much of the journey as possible.
When that’s not feasible, you should be armed with multiple forms of entertainment to keep even the most active minds occupied. Tablets can be handy given the wide range of entertainment they can provide, from YouTube for Kids to movies and interactive games but if you are worried about screen time, the general rule of thumb is to pack a different form of entertainment for each hour of the trip.
Before you book your trip, discuss what would be the best accommodation for your family. It’s easy to assume that booking a family complex is the best option once you have children, but a lot of people never end up making use of the facilities, like kids’ clubs and creches when their children are very young.
So, you might be better off booking a self-catering apartment with a kid’s pool while the children are younger and moving on to the bustling family complexes as they get older. Having accommodation, you are comfortable in is most important so everyone can enjoy the break.
If you are arriving before your accommodation’s check-in time, call or email ahead to see if they can offer you an early check-in so you can get settled as quickly as possible after traveling.
6. Explain the adventure
Oftentimes, children get frustrated because they are unsure about how long the journey will take, where exactly they are going, how they are getting there, etc. One way to get them prepared in advance is to start explaining the various elements about the holiday in the days leading up to it.
Depending on their age, you could start to tell them a little about the region you are going to, why you chose that location, what’s there for them to enjoy and how you’ll be getting there. For example, you might be taking a long trip by car so it can help to explain that it’s a long journey in advance but that you’ll be stopping off at a viewpoint or somewhere en route for lunch.
7. Don’t let the fear take over
While the task or organising everything might seem daunting in advance, you’ll forget all about it when you’re on the holiday. The tantrums and journeys are short lived in hindsight when you think of how long the wonderful memories of those holidays will last.
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