Traveling with kids is one of the most important experiences that an adult with a family has to go through. We could say that it’s the “baptism by fire” of being a parent.
But before you and your partner decide to postpone this marvellous experience, only to always wonder “what if” with all the potential scenarios your imagination could conjure up, here are 5 tips to put your mind at ease when traveling with kids.
Some of these tips might seem obvious if traveling was part of your B.K. (“Before Kids”) life but we’re sure you’ll find something new that will help you re_discover your passion for leaving the comfort of your own home, this time bringing some new companions with you.
1.- Start researching in advance
This first step will save you plenty of headaches down the road. Start researching baggage policies so you know what to bring in your hand luggage so your little one can stay happy in transit. Make a travel kit that follows the airport and bus station regulations, which includes batteries, games, tablets, and snacks.
Also make sure that you know which areas are kid-friendly during your stay, such as the tourist attractions that you want to visit. With a bit of luck, you can get your kids excited about the attractions, giving them something to think about during long trips.
Finally, check the travel policies at your destination. For example, some international destinations require minors to get visas.
2.- Pack judiciously
Oddly enough, the older the kids get, the less things you have to pack. If your kids are still young, the best thing to do is pack for any unexpected situation — from baby wipes to tablets and extra changes of clothes, everything adds up quickly. Remember to pack plastic bags (for dirty diapers or dirty clothes), a roll of toilet paper, and, most importantly, baby wipes. Then you can worry about packing your stuff.
3.- Travel overnight
Kids have a lot of energy by nature, regardless of their age. For that reason it might be a good idea to travel at night so they can spend most of it sleeping, giving both you and them a rest. Night flights tend to be cheaper too.
4.- Make a plan, share it, and improvise
While you may have a mental itinerary of everything you need to do and see, it always helps to plan out your trip and we suggest that you keep to your schedule as much as you can. First of all, you can involve both your partner and your kids (if they can talk yet) a few days before you leave in your plans. This includes asking them to remind you of things to do or plans to involve them in trip planning so they won’t feel excluded. Keep in contact with them at all times to let everyone know what they need to do and to make sure everyone is having fun. Second of all, instead of bringing a jam packed itinerary with dozens of tours and outings, choose to write down which places interest your family the most. Remember that not all plans go off without a hitch, and a bit of improvisation and indulgence never hurt anyone. If time is of the essence, let your kids know; they may understand that more than you think.
5. Keep calm and travel on
No matter where you go, you’re travelling with family, which means that you have everything you need with you… besides your wallet, of course.
Take a deep breath, follow your plan, and above all, have fun. Everything will pass. Even if your kids have a meltdown, take a deep breath and stay calm.
Remember that if you need help, you can always ask the staff for suggestions. Most times you’ll get very practical solutions. Finally, even though the idea of traveling with little kids-or kids of any age- can seem daunting for some parents, this doesn’t have to mean that you can’t travel the world and enjoy an adventure together. Thousands of families around the world travel each week, so why can’t you? You definitely can!
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