Going on vacation with your family is one of the great pleasures in life. However, it can also be extremely stressful, especially if you have children to supervise in an unfamiliar environment.
Here you will find 20 tips for travelling with children, to help you have a stress-free and enjoyable vacation. If you can think of anything useful we haven’t covered, please feel free to add your comments below.
1 Plan, plan and plan some more
Research your destination thoroughly. Plan an itinerary of local activities and sights you can visit to accommodate the whole family. Have a range of activities for each day which can be changed according to variations in the weather. If some of your children become tired or unwell during the trip, you can fall back on a less demanding schedule.
Make sure all your documents are valid, and you have applied for the correct visas for your destination. Children sometimes require extra documentation when travelling to certain jurisdictions. For example, in Colombia and South Africa, children travelling with only one biological parent will need a notarised permission letter from the other parent. These rules are to reduce child trafficking activities, and can cause some serious disruption to your travel plans if you try to enter the country without the correct documents. Check all entry requirements for adults and children before departure.
As the parent or guardian, you are the responsible person in the group. The leader of the pack. You cannot undertake these duties if you are tired and stressed. Take care of your mental well-being before the trip begins, so that you can enjoy the vacation and not get upset with the other members of your group. Get plenty of sleep in the run-up to your trip. Maybe even take a massage or spa visit to get you feeling fantastic and ready for anything.
4 Carrying Extra Baggage
Let your children take their own carry-on bags on board the air plane. Help them to pack with useful items such as a change of clothes and wet weather gear if necessary. Supervision of this task, ensures they don’t fill the bag full of heavy junk. But it is good to let them choose a few of their favourite toys or books to take along on the journey.
5 check in Early
Check-in for your flight at the earliest available opportunity. Usually check-in will open online around 24 hours before departure. You can then ensure your family are all sitting together in the same row preferably. If travelling with a small baby try to sit in the bulkhead seats where most airlines provide a bassinet crib for your baby to sleep in. Also make sure you arrive at the airport in plenty of time. If you are making a mad panic to the gate, you will only increase your stress levels.
6 Take a Stroller
Taking your child’s stroller is a great idea. It give the child’s weary legs a rest, not to mention your weary arms if you are carrying them through a busy airport or tourist attraction. Don’t check the stroller as hold baggage. Take it to the gate, and then on to the airplane entry. You can usually leave it at the entry point to be loaded, and then collect it as you disembark. A sling or harness is also a good idea. You can usually carry a baby through security still in a sling, and they are less cumbersome than a stroller, if you want to travel light.
Take some snacks to keep your children happy and occupied. A hungry child is a stressed child. Buy a plastic compartment container to keep separated snacks, such as nuts, seeds, pretzels, almonds, chunks of cheese, mini crackers, fruit, raisins etc. A few candies or chocolate would be great as a treat, but you don’t want to overdo the sugar in a confined space. You could have your little monkey rushing on sugar and e-numbers through the night. A few boiled sweets to suck are very useful for popping your ears.
8 Cheap Toys
A great idea to keep the children occupied on the plane is to buy a few cheap toys from discount store. Just a couple of bucks will get you a few cheap toys to keep the troops occupied. Toddlers especially love new and unfamiliar items still in the packaging. They may not have a long life span, but they will work wonders for flight entertainment purposes
9 A Crafty Idea
Let your children express themselves artistically with a drawing pad and colours. Maybe even an origami book that comes with folding papers. These items can easily be carried in the hand luggage and a can occupy your little budding artists for a good portion of the journey.
10 Tablet / Smart Phone
Don’t forget your tablet or smart phone is a great entertainment centre for children. Even if you are trying to prevent your children from becoming tech zombies, flying is always a good exception. You can let your children play on a variety of applications and games (make sure you download a good selection before you leave home). There are even some great educational apps available. Maybe you can let them try a language app to learn a few words of the local tongue before you arrive at your destination.
11 Travel Journal
A travel journal is a great way to let your children record their holiday adventures, and a great educational experience. Buy them a nice blank journal book and pen to fill in on the journey. This will also keep them occupied during a flight as they can describe their time at the airport and boarding the plane. A cheap but robust camera is also a nice touch, to allow them to take their own photographs.
12 Climate Clothes
Make sure you have the correct clothes for the local climate. Hot or cold children, are usually unhappy children. Make sure you take cool breathable fabrics for humid conditions. Even if you are expecting warm weather, a cold weather layer is always advisable in case of unanticipated drops in temperature, and overnight flights can also get a little frosty.
13 Keep your little Monkeys Hydrated
Dehydration is an important issue for children. They tend not to drink until they are thirsty, and when they are well occupied they sometimes still don’t bother at all. Keep offering your children water to sip at regular intervals. It is a good idea to check the colour of their urine when they use the toilet. You can also buy dehydration drinks at local shops and chemists in most hot countries. If your child’s urine is very dark, it maybe worth letting them drink one to replenish valuable electrolytes.
14 Whats up Doc
Pay a visit to you doctor at least 8 weeks before your trip. Discuss any vaccinations relevant to your destination, and how any pre-existing conditions maybe affected. If your children have allergies make sure you get them an allergy card to carry in the language of your destination. An identity bracelet with any pre-existing conditions and blood type is also useful.
15 Dam those Mozzies
Many dangerous diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria, dengue, zika and Chikungunya. Prevention is far better than cure, believe me. Carry a travel mosquito net to cover your child’s bed at night, when certain disease carrying mosquitoes are at their most active. Use plenty of repellent during the day. If you are in a malaria zone you may need antimalarial tablets or syrup. Discuss dosages for children with your doctor.
16 Hotel proof kit
Keeping your childs fingers out of hotel rooms sockets is always a good idea. Take some sockets covers with you, or buy some on arrival if the you cant find them at home for the particular socket type you require. Some strong adhesive tape and cable ties are also useful for temporarily securing cupboards, drawers, and the mini bar. Also keep the chain on the door while inside to prevent unexpected entry from outside. It might be worthwhile taking a travel door lock with you for accommodation that does not provide an internal lock or chain.
17 portable crib
Not all hotels provide cribs, and the ones that do are sometimes hit and miss. For peace of mind you can take your own travel crib. On a local holiday you can easily pack a folding crib into the car, but for overseas travel where space is at a premium you need a more compact option. Luckily these days you can purchase travel bassinets that weigh less than 2kg and fold pretty flat.
18 sleep aids
Babies or toddlers that have strict routines and always sleep in the same bed or crib, may find it difficult sleeping in strange surroundings. This can be unpleasant for everyone concerned. Consider taking a sleep aid with you, such as a white noise generator. You can also get apps for your tablet or phone which act as sleep aids playing child sleep friendly sounds.
19 Meeting Point
For the sake of safety always organise a meeting point where everyone can meet in case of separation or an emergency. This is especially true for older children who may go off alone on occasion. Make sure everyone in the group is fully aware of the location, and what they should do in case of certain emergency situations.
20 Go C.I.A on your child
Attach a GPS tag to your child so you can easily locate them if they wander off. This may seem a bit extreme, but a tracker can be very useful in many circumstances. There are various specialist child locators that use this technology, and you can download compatible apps to help locate the child. Other versions include a location alarm for children running off in crowded. The press of a button releases and audible signal in your child’s direction.
Thats the Travel Mono 20 tips for travelling with children. We hope you found them useful. Please feel free to leave us feedback below, and remember to subscribe for updates.
Now enjoy your vacation.