I don’t know many people who travel that always have a vacation that goes to plan. This, in my opinion, is part and parcel of what travelling is all about. Plan as much as possible but expect the unexpected, especially with children. This is why we compiled a list of top tips for travelling with kids.
Have you been in the situation (I know we have) where you are devouring your plate of food while onlookers stare at your young ones having a perfectly timed meltdown? Have you missed your form of transport? Have you started to unpack only to realise you left an important element for your trip at home?
On our most recent trip, we encountered our share of good but also bad moments as we were travelling with young children who get tired easy, are out of their natural routine and environment and are always hungry.
Are these reasons to not go on a holiday? Absolutely not! Holidays are the perfect opportunity to encounter new experiences and learn new skills. It’s also important to remember kids will be kids. The below tips have come about from our good and bad experiences, and hopefully, by sharing them with you, it will help eliminate a little stress on your next travel journey.
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If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail – Benjamin Franklin
- Look at your travel distance measured in time rather than km’s when driving as one might be shorter in km’s but longer in time due to the road conditions. Google Maps is a handy tool for this.
- If you have an inter-connecting flight that you have personally booked online give yourself a minimum 1.5 hours from the first flights arrival and the next one’s departure. You want enough time to collect luggage, grab a bite to eat, use the amenities and check in to your new flight.
- It is helpful when travelling to have an itinerary in place of your daily activities. This will save you wasting precious holiday time when you are in a new location.
- Plan and be organised as much as you can. I am a big list maker; I have lists about lists, as this is what keeps me sane and helps eliminate leaving everything to the last minute.
- Check the bedding within the accommodation you are staying, what other inclusions does it have, what can be borrowed or hired from them? This may save you on items you do not need to take.
- School holidays are always going to be the busiest and most expensive time to travel and if this is your only time available be prepared for longer waits or crowds. If you are flexible with your travel dates there are many quieter off-peak periods during the year that will be less expensive.
- Research! There are some brilliant travel blogs, websites and books (such as Lonely Planet) offering lots of information on various destinations from things to do, where to eat, and what to see.
- Do you have a quick one-night stopover planned during your vacation? To save you getting your whole suitcase out, pack a smaller bag for this short stay or use a packing cube with the requirements needed for that night only.
- Pack medicines and a first aid kit as children get sick, and normally it’s in the middle of the If you are in a foreign place, the last thing you need to be doing is going out looking for a chemist.
- Invest in a light stroller instead of a heavy pram for your holidays or hire one at the location.
- A backpack of your child’s favourite things from home will help pass the time when travelling or buy something new just for the trip,g. art and craft, books, games, small toy, electronic device.
- When travelling with an infant it can sometimes be overwhelming with the thought of everything you use at home. Do you need to take that all with you when you travel? The answer is not really! Think of the things you just can’t live without and with the other items how can you improvise while on holidays.
- If you can’t leave items at home, consider hiring your baby equipment from a local parent. Tree Hut Village hires out baby equipment from parents all over Australia and New Zealand. Parents have listed some of the top baby brands for hire, and there are strollers, travel cots, flight aids, car seats, high chairs and much
- Think about the destination you are travelling to. If you’re not travelling to Antarctica than it’s safe to say you should be able to buy provisions when you arrive. This helps if you have forgotten anything or if you just don’t want to take a full bag of nappies along with you.
- With all the electronic devices each family member normally depends upon, don’t forget to pack your chargers, adaptors and power boards. The power boards are so you can plug all your devices into the one socket at your accommodation which leaves you without the worry of forgetting something.
- When there are amenities around use them, never assume your kids can wait for the next pit stop.
- Is your little one toilet training? Take a portable travel potty or a padded fold up toilet traveller for stops along the way.
- Be prepared for last-minute changes and delays. This is where the children’s backpack (as I mentioned above) would come in handy.
- If you are driving a long distance find out the best places with playgrounds for your stop so the children can have a play, stretch their legs and burn off some energy in a fun environment.
When on Vacation
- Ask locals what to do and where to eat. Some of the best advice is given by the people who live in that destination and children will love being exposed to different environments and cultures.
- Keep the routine as close to your home routine as YOU like. If your child still has a daytime sleep plan your activities around nap time. If your child has a set bedtime in the evening take their favourite toy or book and follow your normal routine as closely as you want.
- Expect the unexpected and try not to let it get to you. A holiday may not always go as planned, even if you are meticulous and plan something down to the wire. Try not to let problems that might occur get the better of you, as you don’t want this to dampen the day or the rest of your trip.
- Kids don’t need a lot to keep them entertained when travelling to a new destination, they will find ways to entertain themselves. Don’t take too many additions for them from home, just the essentials for downtime or to get you from A to B.
- If taking a day trip, try not to arrive at your destination at lunch or nap time as this will waste your exploring time. Not to mention hungry and tired children don’t explore well. We learnt this one the hard way!
- Check the weather forecast before an outing to know what you should pack in your day bag.
- If you have young children take a packed lunch box and snacks in case you are unable to buy anything or you need to keep them occupied.
- Look at food locations before you leave on an outing. Some small towns may not have a lot of options, and you may need to stop earlier or later on your trip.
- If you are staying in a self-contained apartment or an Airbnb have you ever considered an online grocery shop. We have done this several times now and it has been a life saver. You firstly need to check if the grocery store delivers to your accommodation and if so plan a small list of what you think you may need for your stay and have it delivered for when you know you are going to be at the accommodation. This saves time when you are travelling as who wants to go to the grocery store when you can be exploring or relaxing.
- If travelling in peak holiday time make a restaurant booking, especially if staying in a small place with not many dining options.
- Think ahead of time for meals, particularly your evening dinner. As much as you may love to try that restaurant you have heard so much about, what is going to be the outcome when taking your children? Depending on their ages and how much dining out you already do when home, this may be second nature to your family. Another alternative you may want to consider is choosing a take-away and taking it to a playground, park or to your accommodation.
- Don’t try to fit too much into a day. It’s best to see less and enjoy yourself more.
- You may find children will not enjoy or appreciate the same activities that you want to participate in or see. Flexibility and compromise is the key; try to plan your day so it involves something for all family members.
- Plan for some downtime in your day as everyone (especially young children) will be tired and relaxation time is just as important when on vacation.
- Look at attractions and events online before you travel and check opening times. See if you can pre-book or purchase tickets to secure your seat or place, so you don’t miss out on something you want to do. We have also learnt this the hard way.
HAVE YOU READ?
Part 1 Travel Series: 4 Step Pre-Vacation Guide
Part 2 Travel Series: Over 50 Lifesaving tips you need to know for flying with kids
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