Top tips for travel with tots, babies and the whole family
Travel can be a stressful time. “Are we there yet?”. Some find the term “family holiday” a huge contradiction. Does the thought of airport tantrums and changing sleep cycles scare you? We outline some tips on how to travel and have a harmonious holiday, to give yourself some time to R&R.
Travel is all about following the scouts motto of “always be prepared”, your holiday will be a breeze and you will create some special family memories.
Some mums swear by overnight travel (flying, driving, etc) as they have more quiet time while their little one dozes. Others pick to travel at the time that their little one is at their most cheerful. Choose a time that suits you and plan the itinerary the same way. It would be completely pointless planning a long trip for your little one to finally arrive at the beach grumpy and exhausted. You know your child best and will be able to plan how much stimulation they can handle. It can be tempting to schedule an activity for every minute to get the most out of your holiday, but be sure to schedule in nap times. This is your time to relax and read a book or also catch up on your sleep. You are on holiday, too, after all. Travel is meant to be fun! Take time out to relax and explore, give yourself extra time between stops to accommodate the dawdling, toilet breaks and other unplanned activities.
The carefree attitude of “just winging it” will belong to your BC (Before Child) self. Ensure that you plan your travels and book ahead to create less stress for you during your holiday. There is nothing worse than a hungry toddler having a melt-down in the backseat when you can’t find a restaurant or shop for kilometres. Pack some extra snacks in your bag and plenty of wipes for spills and messes.
This will depend on the age of your child. Try and let your little ones be involved in the trip, for example by giving a toddler and camera and asking them to take photos for the family you may be surprised by the pictures that they take. This will also increase their interest levels in the activity. Ask them what they would like to do with the day, or give them choices so that they feel like they had a say in the holiday.
Check out with the weather forecast before you leave. It goes without saying, if you are travelling to a cold place you will need gear for this. Remember to pack things like gloves, jackets and hats if you are venturing into the snow. A child that is uncomfortable because they are hot or cold will be a misery on holiday. Also check that all the gear still fits. Children grow so quickly and the swimming suit that your little wore 6 months ago, may suddenly be too snug.
Potty training on the train or plane can be an absolute nightmare, on top of your growing hand luggage now you need to bring the potty, clean clothes, wipes and carry around the smelly wet pants. It may sound like bad advice but do what is comfortable for you. Many moms go back to nappies while travelling and try again when they arrive at the destination. Often while on holiday there is no chance to simply run down to the store. Pack extra nappies or pull-ups to get through the rough patches.
In the old day, we would have a car crammed with all of our favourite toys. Now we can provide hours of entertainment on a small device like a tablet. Find some fun and child-friendly games to entertain your little one. Be sure to remember the charger and all plugs that you may need.
One of the greatest fears is losing your child in a foreign place. There are many child locator devices that you can buy these days. There is a locator chip that either strapped to their belt or shoe and if your child goes missing you can push the button and the chip’s alarm will go off allowing you to find them.
Many kids love the novelty of travel on a bus, plane, train or boat for the first time. Often these experiences were some of the best memories from the trip. Take into account how much luggage you will need to take with you. For example arriving from the airport it may be more sensible to take a taxi than to try and take the underground. For short day trips try and vary the transport as an experience for your kids. Make travel educational too.
Not in an OCD kind of way, but often having hand-sanitiser or wipes can go a long way to prevent your family picking up germs. Wiping down suspicious cutlery or using sanitiser when there are no cleaning facilities in the rest room.
Pack all the medicine that your family needs regularly, with a few extras should anything come up. Being off your normal routine, with changing diet and jet-lag many people often get ill. Stock up for any eventually or ensure that there is a pharmacy that will be able to cater for you on your trip. Pack for stings, fevers, cuts or scraps and tummy bugs.