Travelling is like a walk in the park if you know how to do it. Maybe you’ve always been an avid traveller, and you remember the times when your parents took you on family trips. However, travelling with your own children is a whole different story. If you’re doing it for the first time, you’re up for a real challenge.
Generally speaking, the younger the children, the trickier the travel. After all, you’ll have to deal with all the tantrums and crying, bring a ton of baby gear, hope to travel with understanding passengers, and then stay with empathetic hotel guests – we bet that’s not exactly what your dream holiday looks like. Nevertheless, you don’t have to give up travelling as soon as you start a family. You can travel with your children, survive, and have the time of your life while you’re at it. Read on to find out 8 amazing tips for travelling with kids.
Take It Slow
Whether it’s your first trip with children or not, you need to have plenty of time, since everything will probably take longer than you expect. You’ll have to wake them up, get them dressed, pack them into a car, get to the airport or a train station, go through security, buy some snacks or drinks, and board your plane or train.
It sounds like a lot, and it’s only the first phase of your trip – after that, you’ll have to endure the journey and keep your kids entertained before you even reach your destination.
Then you’ll have to help them adapt to the new environment, get settled, and prepare them for a couple of days of fun activities. After that, you have to make a return trip.
The point is, travelling with young kids is tricky, but not impossible. People have travelled, travel, and will travel with children – and so can you!
If you decide to travel with kids, you’ll have to pay attention to details you would otherwise overlook. For starters, you should look into hotels and airlines that offer child discounts or other child-friendly amenities. You should also keep your kids happy by providing them with a plethora of fun activities. Maybe there’s a kids club at your hotel, the area is safe, there are many local parks nearby, and your accommodation has positive reviews left by other families. Also, consider looking for discount codes for theme parks – school-age children will surely find them incredibly exciting.
You should also pay attention to your travel details. If you decide to take a plane, book in advance and look for hidden costs – most airlines will allow you to check a stroller and a car seat with no additional fees, but there might be some size restrictions.
Pro tip: if you’re going by plane, plan your flights around your kid’s sleep schedule. Evening flights tend to be expensive, but they also help children fall asleep faster. You can also consider booking early flights since they’re less crowded and align with their nap time.
Brand and Track Them
Airports tend to be overcrowded, and so do various tourist locations around the globe. It’s also quite common for young children to get lost and separated from their parents – that’s a feeling nobody wants to experience. As such, it’s better to be safe than sorry and prepare for the unthinkable.
Give yourself peace of mind and provide your child with some form of identification. If you’re really worried about them getting lost, you can write your name and phone number on their arm. Additionally, you can buy a GPS tracking device and attach it to your kid’s wrist, bag, or trouser loop. You can monitor its location with an app, and while it sounds a bit extreme, it’s a solution that will provide you with peace of mind about your child’s safety.
Pack What You Need
Depending on your kid’s age, you’ll have to bring different items. However, the list you’ll find below can serve as a sample guide on what to bring for a plane ride with a child:
- Hand sanitiser
- Baby wipes
- Basic art supplies (crayons, paper etc)
- Reading books
- Comfort items
- Smartphones and tablets with chargers
- Kid-sized headphones
- Plastic bags for trash
- Water or baby milk
- Baby food
- Low-sugar snacks
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
Pro tip: Comfort items can help your young child survive the time they spend in transit by providing them with a sense of familiarity and security. It can be anything from plush toys to pacifiers if they still use them. Keep in mind, though, that kids tend to lose their grip on things. If a toy or a pacifier lands on the floor, you must prevent your kid from putting it close to their mouth. As such, you should have at least two pacifiers and be ready to clean them, as well as bring backup toys.
Talk to Your Kids
Whether you have small or older children, you need to explain what’s going on during your trip, especially if they have never been on a plane or train before. Use kid-friendly language and explain in simple terms what’s going on around them, when something is going to happen, and why things are the way they are. Don’t leave them in the dark, especially when they’re old enough to understand the complexities of travelling with other people – and they reach that point sooner than you think!
Luckily, most young kids are not scared of flying, and they think it’s cool. Having a talk with you will help ease their minds and prepare them for what’s to come. Of course, you can’t predict their behaviour, but they should have an idea of what’s allowed and not allowed on board. Other people travelling with you will surely appreciate that.
Even adults tend to have a short attention span, and they are usually aware of various social cues and rules. However, children don’t have that knowledge, and they tend to shift focus very quickly. Even older kids tend to get bored easily. As such, in order to survive the journey and then the whole stay, you should remember to bring distractions.
You should opt for technology-free solutions, such as toys, books, educational games, and your creativity to engage them in a conversation. However, parents also need time to rest, and a smartphone or a tablet with an entertaining game or a movie can occupy your kids’ minds like no other device. Just remember to keep your child’s screen time in check, and don’t let a tablet or a smartphone be the only distraction.
Dress Them Well
Here’s a tricky task – you need to dress your kids as appropriately as possible, as fast as possible, as efficiently as possible. After all, they’ll have to go through airport check-in and security procedures just like any other person, as well as endure various travel conditions, including temperature changes, long periods of travel without a break, and so on.
The best strategy is to dress them in layers. Opt for clothing with no buttons or zippers, and choose slip-on shoes over laces. You should also think about packing a spare set of clothing in your carry on bag, just in case they spill something.
Keep Calm and Enjoy
It’s easier said than done, but when everything fails, you need to remain calm. Children will process things at their own pace, and they will come around, eventually. You need to keep calm for them and for your fellow passengers or guests – long and deep breaths can do the trick.
Ultimately, remember that you’re going on a family vacation. Enjoy it! Things may get out of hand if you travel with multiple kids and young toddlers who are difficult to control. However, each crisis can be handled and taken care of, and nothing can stop you from having a great time. For your kids, the entire trip will feel like the biggest adventure of their lives, and you can share your love for travelling with them.
The Bottom Line
Life shouldn’t stop for you when you have kids. If travelling is your passion, don’t give it up! Understandably, some things will be more difficult, and some will be downright impossible. Still, travelling with children, big and small, is doable.
It will require a great deal of effort on your part, and more often than not, things will get hectic. As such, you’ll need loads of patience and time to get everything done. Nevertheless, you can still have a great family travel experience, with big and small children alike. If you do your research well and remain focused on the task at hand – keeping your kids and fellow passengers happy – you should be able to reach your destination (and get back home safely) without too much trouble.
Then, you’ll have a great time at your chosen location as a family. You’ll learn how to overcome various difficulties, and the best thing is that things will get easier with time. Hopefully, your kids will love travelling as much as you do!
Hello! I am Axel, tripplo.com’s travel tips expert, travel savings expert and founder. It’s me who publish and update most of the content and discounts on tripplo.com!