Travelling with little humans
While travelling internationally with children can be challenging it should not deter you from having a great holiday.
While travelling internationally with children can be challenging it should not deter you from having a great holiday. As a mother of two very busy boys, I found these tips incredibly helpful when planning our family trips and it made travelling with my children so much more enjoyable.
Choose your destination and style of travel carefully
If you are planning to do a self-drive or any road tripping in your chosen holiday destination it does not have to be a nightmare. Having sing-a-longs, listening to child friendly audio books and playing games like I-Spy can keep your children entertained for hours. Keeping the journeys short, stopping often to freshen up and not sticking rigidly to a schedule will really take the pressure off and allow everyone to relax and have a great time! What also works quite well is stopping for a picnic lunch where the kids can run around and burn off that excess energy.
Booking in advance gives you more options, the early bird catches all the perks and the best possible prices. Book overnight flights whenever possible, your little ones will sleep and hopefully, so will you. Ask your travel agent to book bulk head seats, it gives you a little more leg room and access to a bassinet when travelling with an infant. Most airlines charge for pre-seating now but it is well worth the extra cost to have your family all sitting together. If you are going to travelling alone with your kids, consider an airline like Etihad that has the Flying Nanny service which makes flying with kids that much easier.
Choose a family-friendly hotel
Even though this might seem extremely obvious, there is a massive difference between a hotel that has a kiddies menu and one that actually caters specifically for families and children. Do your research. Make sure that the hotel you choose has kids clubs or at the very least a kids holiday program, it gives your children time to socialise with other children and you some valuable alone time. Choose a hotel that is within walking distance of local attractions, the beach and child friendly restaurants or better still book a family friendly all-inclusive resort or hotel that offers all meals, drinks and activities which saves you from looking for decent restaurants and worrying about the bill at the end of your stay. Remember to book a room with a bath if your children are used to bathing instead of showering.
Get the best luggage
Buy the best possible luggage you can afford. When travelling with children, you will need the best equipment possible, your luggage is no exception. So when the time comes to prepare for your trip, your luggage has all the features and compartments required for all the little extra necessities that has to be packed.
Plan your packing
Pack smart. Pack easy mix and match outfits and clothes that are easy to wash and do not require ironing. Pack a change of clothes and the clothes you will need on arrival in your carry on so that you don’t need to unpack immediately. Roll your clothes. It frees up much needed space and if you know you are going to be doing clothes shopping while travelling pack only half of what you are going to need.
Little humans require a lot more stuff than others so the adults need to pack as light as humanly possible to make more room for their things. It is vital to invest in extras that will make the journey as smooth as
possible. Collapsible strollers; these are great even if your kids are already walking and if it comes with a removable car seat, even better! Or a child carrier as little ones tire easily and cannot walk long distances. Cell phone holders to free your hands. Nappies, because you might not find your brand. Make a list of everything you cannot live without and make sure to PACK IT ALL.
Pack snacks…loads of snacks
No child can resist a snack, no matter what their age. And they don’t have to be unhealthy. Some granola bars, dried fruit and biscuits will do the trick. Snacks will also keep hunger at bay until meals are served because a hungry child is not a happy child. Make sure your kids have a snack just before the flight lands, believe me when I tell you that there is nothing worse than a hungry child in the passport control queue.
A little preparation goes a long way!
Think about the things that interest your child and pack some games (think cards, electronic games that work without an internet connection, puzzles etc.) and books to keep your child entertained. Most airlines provide activity packs for children, but as every child’s interests differ, it is best to pack a few extras. Airlines like Emirates have dedicated kid’s channels and even PlayStation games to keep your little ones occupied.
To make the journey a little easier, pack the perfect carry-on bag. Pack the toy, or blanket baby can’t sleep without, travel pillows, wipes, diapers, a change of clothes and anything else you might need.
Try to mimic their at home routine. Put on their favourite pj’s, read their favourite bed time story, get them settled in and don’t forget their favourite toy or blanket!
Have you ever seen a family running frantically through the airport? You do not want to be that family. It is extremely stressful to be that family and it is not a great start to what is supposed to be a relaxing holiday. Get to the airport early, check in early and get to your boarding gate with ample time to spare. Also a great idea; checking in on-line and then just doing a luggage drop.
Be kind to yourself
Some parents feel guilty in advance and buy little gifts for the other passengers. It’s a lovely gesture, but it is completely unnecessary. Families fly, babies cry. No one wants their children to cry, scream blue murder or have a tantrum, but it happens. And besides anyone who travels without noise cancelling head phones is an idiot! You can’t exactly take the bus to India or Disneyland, so everyone just has to deal. When your baby screams, all your fellow flyers want to see is that you are trying to fix the problem. Just breathe and relax because you being stressed out about the noise is helping no-one.
Remember to have fun
Don’t forget to relax and have fun, which is after all what holidays are all about. Be flexible, take it easy and do everything at a comfortable pace. Consciously try to enjoy your holiday, do not freak out when things go wrong because things will go wrong, you know you are going to laugh about it tomorrow and for years to come. Have fun and when all else fails have some wine.