Travelling can be an enlightening and eye-opening experience not just for adults, but also for kids. This is a time for experiencing new sights and surroundings, learning about different cultures, trying different foods, and not to mention spending a lot of time with the family. On the other hand, travelling with children can be an overwhelming task with unpredictable schedules, trip interruptions, and just having to deal with potentially bad and cranky behaviour.
Being prepared and knowing what you’re getting into are two of the biggest things you can do to make family travel go more smoothly. There are also a lot of little things you can do to try and enhance the overall tone and mood of your trip. That’s where we come in!
We’re here to help! At the end of the day, you and your children should enjoy every moment seeing new places and create long lasting memories along the way. Isn’t that the point of travel in the first place?
Here are some tips we think are the most useful and easiest to implement when travelling with kids:
1. Give yourself lots of time
As any parent knows - kids don’t move at the same speed or pace we do. Set aside extra time in the morning to do a last minute check of items and be sure to get to the airport extra early. You’d hate to miss your flight because someone needed an extra bathroom break or you were trying to fumble your way through security with a giant stroller in tow. A more flexible schedule will allow peace of mind and a less stressful trip.
2. Don’t Overpack
Families have a tendency to pack everything kids use at home. More often than not a lot of the ‘things’ you say you need to bring with you, you really don’t end up using or needing and wonder why you packed it in the first place. It’s understandable to overpack when it comes to your kid's items to ensure nothing was missed but worst-case scenario a lot of standard items can be bought abroad.
If you are traveling with smaller children or infants take into consideration if you want to bring your own car seat and stroller or if you can have that pre-arranged to where you are going. Call ahead and ask the hosting hotel or car rental companies if they can assist. It’s usually best to bring a lightweight or ‘umbrella’ stroller as they fold up and store nicely.
3. Have the basics
One of the easiest ways to ruin travel plans is the possibility of someone falling ill, or worse - the entire family. It’s always a good idea to take a few over-the-counter medications that your family may need. These can include items such as:
- Allergy medicines
- Headache medicines (Tylenol, Advil)
- Medicine for upset stomachs (Tums, Pepto)
- Motion sickness prevention medication (Gravol)
Other medication that might apply to your family or the specific tripIf anyone in your family is taking some sort of prescription medication (be it antibiotics etc.), be sure to bring it along. Whenever possible, take your medications in their original packaging. If you can’t take the original, take a copy of the prescription from your doctor so you can show exactly what your prescription is and why you have it for border crossings and if your luggage is searched.
4. Bring Electronics
This goes without saying! When you’re travelling with kids, keeping them entertained is critical. It can make the difference between a great trip and a miserable one. One way to keep the little ones entertained is with electronics. We understand this may not be everyone's go-to and that’s okay. You decide when is appropriate or not.
Whether you use a tablet, a phone, or a video game system, your kids are sure to be amused. Make sure whichever gaming device or system you’re using has plenty of apps, movies, and TV shows downloaded to avoid any further disasters.
5. Bring some new items
This could be as a few simple dollar store toys and some books they haven’t seen in a while. You’ve already spent money on a vacation - there is no need to go out and buy a ton of new items in hopes to keep your child's attention. The idea of something new may spark joy in your child and allow them to be excited for a longer duration of the trip.
6. Plan - but don’t overdo it
We know the trip isn’t just about the kids and that you also want to make the most of it. However, planning too much to do and see isn’t going to benefit everyone. Instead of booking tons of excursions and sticking to a regimented itinerary plan a few bigger items allowing more freedom to explore and book things last minute depending on how the day is going and how the kids feel.
7. Just go for it!
We understand for some the idea of travelling with small children is something that can easily overwhelm and stress a parent out - the most important thing to remember is you’ll get through it. Any parent knows that there are hurdles and strides that come with raising children - don’t let the idea of a few temper tantrums or meltdowns stop you from exploring new places! It’s time to make some new memories - enjoy it!
Are you feeling a bit more prepped now? Be sure to use some of our tips from above to make your trip easier and more fun for everyone. Now, what are you waiting for?
Safe and happy travels!