There is no denying that travelling with kids can be a challenge. However, travelling together as a family is the perfect opportunity to create unforgettable memories, encourage new experiences and new cultures and to teach your children about the world. The rewards far outweigh the potential short term problems that travelling with kids can present.
To help get you in the holiday mood, and to ensure your next adventure goes as smoothly as possible, we have reached out to some of the most experienced family travel experts around the world, and put together a list of the most important things to remember when travelling with kids.
1. Selecting your destination for a kids holiday
A common theme amongst our family travel experts was this: any destination can be child friendly, as long as you get your preparation and planning spot on. So, take it from the experts: go anywhere with your little ones, from Ireland or Scotland, to France or Italy, the world is your oyster!
2. Planning your trip with kids
All good holidays start with some form of planning. In general, the more you can find out about a destination before you get there, the easier it will be to get around, find vital supplies and, most of all, have fun when you get there. If you’re travelling with a baby or a young child, make sure you locate shops that sell wet wipes, nappies, baby food and any other emergency products you might need in a hurry.
You could also try to find out a little more about the public transport options at your destination. Research child-friendly restaurants and look up activities your kids will enjoy on any potential rainy days. When it comes to travelling with kids, forewarned is forearmed, and the more you can find out about your chosen destination, the better.
It’s important to remember that even the best laid plans could go awry. Like Mummytravels says “Plan, plan, plan again and then be ready to abandon the plan”. If things do go wrong, try to stay calm, find a solution and go with the flow until you can get things back on track.
If you want to make the planning part of your holiday a little more fun, get your partner and kids to lend a hand. Natalie Kaminski, co-founder of goBaby says “Involve your children in planning and packing. Teach them about the destination ahead of time and get them excited about the upcoming trip.”
3. Keeping it simple
Although you may want to go sightseeing in Rome, cafe hopping in Paris or museum mooching in New York, remember that your kids just want to have fun, so try not to over complicate your holiday plans. Remember that your holiday is about spending time together as a family, not ticking sights off a list. As experienced family traveller pigeonpairandme.com puts it “Keep it simple. As any parent knows, juggling work, home and childcare is a frazzling experience. A break from the realities of life is a good chance to get to know your family all over again.”
4. Packing for a trip with kids
As any parent will know, packing is crucial when it comes to family travel. Forget your toddler’s favourite toy or your baby’s nappy bag and things can start to go wrong, fast. Although there are a lot of items that are essential when travelling with kids, the less you pack the easier your life will be. As founder of Family. World. Travel and mum of three, Haleli Smadar says “Pack light and stay flexible” if you want your journey to go smoothly.
For younger kids, there are some great (and eco-friendly) companies like Lullaloop that offer baby clothing rental — the best part? The clothes come in a ‘capsule collection’ meaning they all match, which is perfect for travel!
5. Planning child friendly holiday activities
Sometimes it’s hard to keep the energy and motivation going, and boredom can rear its ugly head. When you’re trying to relax and have fun as a family, it can be tricky to find constant sources of entertainment. To ensure your kids stay happy throughout your trip, you will need to plan some activities. If you’re in a city, it’s always a good idea to look up playgrounds, parks and city farms before you travel, so you know exactly where to head when boredom strikes.
More often than not, entertaining kids is actually a lot easier in the countryside. Most kids love animals and, as Cathryn Carruthers, an executive life coach based in Calgary, Canada, says “Children learn so much from being immersed in nature, and it has the added benefit of exhausting them for bedtime, and helping with jet lag.”
6. How young is too young?
A lot of parents worry about travelling with young children. However, as experienced traveller and founder of Kids Are A Trip, Kirsten Maxwell, advises, “There is no right age to travel with your children. Start early and they’ll never know the difference.” When kids are small they can’t protest the itinerary, and babies are generally a lot easier to entertain than toddlers. So if you’re a new parent, why not begin planning an adventure of your own and start as you mean to go on!
7. Ask for help
No matter how well thought out and thorough your plan, or how well behaved your kids are, sometimes things can just go wrong. If you’re battling to get all of your luggage and children across an airport, if your toddler is having a meltdown on the plane, or if you’re struggling to manage taking your kids to the toilet whilst looking after the bags, ask a passerby if they can lend a hand.
Juliet Perrachon, co-founder of travel forum Bebe Voyage says, “If you’re traveling alone, do not be afraid to get help from fellow passengers. Many of them have been in your situation, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how kind some people can be when they see a mother in a desperate situation.”
8. Flying with children
Keeping kids entertained on a long flight can be a real challenge. Although many parents will resort to screen time to keep their children out of trouble, as most parents know, an excess of digital stimulation can cause even more problems later on in the day. A great tip from Laura Hall, communications director at Kid & Coe, is to “Pack a rucksack for the kids full of new things for the flight and keep it a secret.. Think: felt pens, colouring books, an easy card game, a bouncy ball, snacks and stickers.” This will make the journey even more exciting for your little ones and should help to keep them out of mischief until you land at your destination.
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