There’s no getting around it - travelling with kids can be daunting. Not only do you have to brace yourself for tantrums on the airplane (and other public places) but you also have to consider your children in every decision you make. In reality, it’s a lot like everyday life, only you’re going places!
While travelling with children can be stressful, it can also make for a much richer and more satisfying experience. And if you incorporate a few tips before and during your trip, you can seriously minimise the stress and maximise the good times.
If your child is an infant or toddler, you can pretty much go anywhere that is safe. They won’t remember the trip, and they won’t really care where you’re going as long as they can eat, sleep and play. However, if your kids are older, you will need to make sure everyone’s interests and desires are considered. Pick a destination that has activities for everyone in the family, and it will be a hit.
Peak season comes with a higher probability that you will experience great weather at your destination, and possibly a few more special events. But if you travel during the low season, you won’t have to deal with the overwhelming crowds and all the disadvantages that come with that. In other words, the low season can make for a more relaxing vacation, not to mention significantly less expensive all-around.
Make the most of the off peak travel before the little ones start school. The price differential can be staggering.
Driving gives you with more control over your itinerary because you can come and go as you please. However, flying gets you to your destination faster. Which is best really depends on whether you want to spend most of your time at your destination or make a journey of your road trip. Also, taking flights comes with a lot more planning and preparing, and a heavy carbon footprint.
If you decide to drive, you will need to make sure your kids have entertainment readily available. Invest in a car WiFi hotspot device so that you can have a fast and reliable internet connection wherever you are. These kinds of devices will allow your kids to stream their favourite content, e.g. movies, games, music, etc on a tablet or smartphone.
The times of day you travel will make a big difference in how smoothly your trip goes. Try to schedule your flights or drive time during sleep times. Though it’s usually more expensive, evening flights can prove much less stressful because your kids can sleep through the night. And be sure to leave plenty of time between connecting flights so that you’re not rushed to get to the next terminal. If you’re taking a road trip, leave early in order to maximise your kids’ sleep, and take breaks throughout the trip to stretch, eat, and relax.
Lastly, you want to pack efficiently for your trip because having what you need can keep stress levels down and save you from having to make expensive purchases. If you’re flying, check with the airline about what you can take as your carry-ons. If your children are younger, be sure to pack essentials like extra dummies, snacks, clothes, plastic bags, pillows, a tablet, and so on.
However, you should still try to pack light. Hard with kids, we know, but the less you pack the less fuel needed to get you there! Most kids can wear the same shorts several times and a dress for dinner will only be worn for a couple of hours so can it be used again. Caveat – consider a big bib for baby-led weaning.
Be sure to bring along some eco-disposable nappies and wipes!Very few countries have access to eco-nappies or compostable wipes in normal holiday supermarkets, so it’s worth taking these with you. Even if you’re normally a cloth bum mum, it's worth taking some eco-disposables, as washing facilities may not be readily available.
Other items to bring: your own sippy cup or beaky, a reusable water bottle for you, and a shopping bag. Little ones can be very particular about their cups, so it’ll help encourage more fluids in hot countries as well as reducing straws and bottles. Toss the bag in the suitcase and keep the water bottle handy for you for water fountain fill-ups.
Don’t forget to power down the nursery. Turning off electronics saves on the electricity bill and cuts down on energy usage. To make an even bigger dent, unplug all electronics since they can “leach” power even when they’re not turned on. Your baby monitor, angel monitor, gro clock, and plug-in room thermometer will all use power while left in the nursery. Turn down the thermostat before you go too. An empty room doesn’t need to be heated and keeping it warm unnecessarily uses up energy. If you have your own water heater, go ahead and turn that down, too. Unless there’s a chance of frost while you’re away, it's ok to turn it all off completely. Just ask a nice neighbour or grandparent to pop in before you get home and warm the place up a bit.
Unwrap and recycle before heading out the door as well. If you purchased new products before the trip (an iPhone charger, a new box of Calpol), recycle the cardboard wrappers before leaving home. Your hotel room may not have a recycling bin, plus it’ll all fit in your suitcase better.So remember...
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