As the holiday season approaches, everyone seems to be making plans for their next holiday. All the pictures shared on social media, statuses of euphoria expressed as eloquently as a hundred and forty words will allow having done their bit in making the wanderer in you lust after your next destination. Should it be a beach or the mountains? Or should you head to a nice touristy place with plenty of photo-ops? While you plan the essentials of your much-deserved vacation, here are some tips for travelling with children.
With children in tow, it is absolutely imperative that you have a plan in place. By plan, what is meant is details on where you will stay, roughly what you will do and what will be the mode of transport you will employ to get from Point A to Point B. A ‘take it as it comes’ kind of a vagabond holiday is slightly tough to pull off with a child in tow due to the inherent uncertainty of what their mood and temperament may bring into the travel equation.
If you are going on a long drawn holiday with a lot of pit-stops, it makes sense to invest in a child locator just for the peace of mind it will bring you for all the hours you may need to spend in crowded places. While we are on the topic of pit stops and layovers, check your children’s passports before travelling. Very often, in the humdrum of mundane life, you may fail to notice an expired passport of an outdated address as an all-important, to-do task. This may come to bite you when you’re only days away from your trip. So make it a point to check everyone’s passports before leaving on your holiday.
The other thing about travelling with children is the tendency to deviate from the schedule. Plan for plenty of time between transit schedules and allow time for delays while planning departures and arrivals. This will prevent you from losing your mind over keeping up with tight timelines and the headaches that go with it.
When it comes to children’s food, consider what will be locally available at your holiday destination and think of all the food options in advance. In case you are travelling with a very young child, take your supplies with you whether it is your steamer blender or your trusted can of formula. You can never plan enough in this criterion. While it is very nice to be adventurous when visiting new places, try to stick to tried and tested familiar food for your children as you do not want to discover an allergy you did not know of, in a place you are new to. Having said this, it is alright to go easy on portions and quantities as children do tend to take a few days to adjust to travel schedules and timelines.
Find out in advance what the weather will be at your destination and pack clothes accordingly. Try to make sure you pack enough while not going overboard on the weight limit. If it is a cold place, remember that layers are always a smart way to bundle children up as there can be a world of difference between the outdoor and indoor temperatures. Also, make sure you take clothes that are appropriate for any activities you may be engaging in during your holiday. Like a swimsuit for a beach holiday or a pair of rugged boots if you plan to walk a lot.
When you have children, prepare for the worst. Expect the unexpected. Keep local numbers handy for any kind of emergencies you may have. Thinking and planning ahead for all eventualities makes you a smart parent, not a paranoid one. So don’t be apprehensive to find out the name of a good paediatrician if you know someone in town. Keep a medical emergency kit in your bag with you at all times which will cover any basic issues you may encounter. If your children are old enough, teach them your home address and phone number. If they are too young, slip your card into their clothes just in case.
Pack your children’s favourite toys that aren’t too bulky. Keep a playlist of their favourite music handy. If they have some item that makes them comfortable like a favourite stuffed toy or the ONLY bowl from which they will drink milk in, take it along to avoid tantrums along the way. It will help children feel a sense of stability, yet enjoy the vacation that will bring in new experiences for them.
If your children are old enough, give them a small camera that is child-friendly and ask them to take pictures of everything they found interesting on the trip. You will be amazed at what all they photograph and this will become a cherished record of your vacation for sure.
Encourage older children to journal about the vacation to help them mark each day with what they enjoyed doing. Cultivate this as a habit to plan future holidays with them. It will help them understand their own choices and preferences.
When you travel to a place, teach your children to be curious about the local produce, cuisine, and other culture-oriented aspects about the place. Use public transport to have experiences that are novel and try to visit local markets to get a taste of the local flavor.
Think on your feet
No matter how much you plan, you might find yourself waiting somewhere where you don’t have your toy supplies at hand or canned food nearby. Accept it as an adventure and try to think on your feet. Have a list of family games to while away time when in transit or while waiting. You will be amazed at the level of bonding these little games will bring into your life. The memories you make while creatively trying to spend time together will last you a lifetime. So don’t be too rigid and think on your feet if the situation demands it.
Be in the Now
If you have packed the food, booked the hotels and taken everything you need, try to relax and stay in the moment. Children teach us so much every day and watching the world through their eyes is something that is sure to astound you on many levels. So try to enjoy the break you so deserve and unwind. Allow your kids to explore the environment and see how they assimilate the new experiences.
Now that you are armed with our checklist of how to make travelling with kids easy, go ahead and plan your holiday well enough in advance so that you can luxuriously dream about it too. As much as you plan, try to be in the moment, take loads of pictures and make a lifetime of memories with your wonderful bundles of joy! Happy Parenting!
What are some of your hacks to make travelling with your kids easier? Let us in on them in the comments below!