Setting out on that long-awaited vacation is like a dream come true especially when it is with your kids, the fun gets all the better. But while traveling with your kids is one of the things of everlasting joy, it can get a lot more overwhelming too. There are hence a lot of dos and don’ts that you must follow when traveling with your kids. Figuring all of them yourself may get a little tricky. And there is always a little amount of information that you could always help.
And to help you further here is a list of some of the top 15 tips for traveling with kids. Read through for more.
1. Keep ample time in hand
It is okay to be at the airport right on time for check-in but that is certainly something you cannot do when traveling with kids. Make sure you reach the airport well on-time so that they can go through all the below activities smoothly:
- Checking in
- Getting through the security checks
- Getting the snacks and drinks
If you are a frequent flier you must have observed that all these processes do take a lot of time and ensure you have enough time in hand for your kids to go through the airport procedures along with leaving them with some time to buy their snacks and drinks. It is really an unpleasant experience to have missed a flight and waiting to be rescheduled especially when you have your children sitting unhappily around you. The very mood of the vacation goes for a toss. And you surely would like to avoid that. So ensure that you keep enough time in hand.
This not only applies only when you are reaching the airport it is, in fact, applicable in every part of your trip, especially when at an unknown, unseen place you gave a lot to cover in too little time.
2. Do not pack too much
Often when you are traveling with family and kids, you feel like packing almost anything and everything. You do this to ensure that your kids get an element of familiarity wherever they are. But this is however not a very good idea. The reason being when traveling with your kids more often than not you will be carrying at least one of them throughout the day. So, on top of the kid, you do not want to be carrying too much luggage as well. So make sure you make as little as you possibly can. While you are traveling your daily routine is going to be impacted big time so the everyday routine will be impacted anyway. Plus you and your kids will be either sightseeing or going places the whole day, so they will not be using the stuff you brought with you even if they want to.
So better skip the things that you can part with and travel light. Moreover, you can buy if something is absolutely required wherever you are going.
3. Make advanced bookings wherever possible
When traveling alone you might just explore your lodging options for a while before setting down for one but that may not work while traveling with your kids. You do not want to keep on running from pillar to post looking for an apt place to put up while your kids are waiting in the taxi. A certain degree of uncertainty surely adds an exciting element to everything however it should certainly not be the case when you are traveling with your kids.
Make sure that the whole itinerary is planned and chalked out properly. Then do some thorough research, check the reviews and make bookings for hotels, museums or every other place that is applicable as per the itinerary in advance. This will avoid two things, one you will not have to waste too much time and money running and exploring a new city looking for a good hotel, and two you get the peace of mind of having everything planned and under control. So, book every place and thing that is available on the prebook option. The more your things are pre-planned, the more enjoyable you can make it for your kids and yourself.
4. Explain the itinerary to your kids
Your kids will always be full of curiosity and inquisitiveness. So, they will have all sorts of questions when you take them for vacation and though that looks and sounds very cute, it may get annoying. You may also find them pretty unhappy and annoyed when they find that too many new things are coming up. And, when so much takes place at once they would naturally be confused and upset.
To avoid such annoying moments ensure that you explain everything that you possibly can to your kids beforehand with all pertinent information on the trip and destinations and everything else. They may not be able to grasp all that at once but they will at least have the answers to the basic questions like “where are we going?”. Give them a basic outline of the trip and tell them what to expect when they get there or anywhere during any part of the trip. This will ensure that they know what to expect and not panic or be frightened to see something that they did not expect or knew they would be seeing. Keep the pleasant surprises intact but ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises for your kids.
5. Carry ample snacks wherever you go
A hungry kid is an angry and mad kid and that can make your happy family vacation turn from good to worse in a matter of a few minutes. Hunger can make your kids go cranky and if they do not get food immediately after they start to feel hungry, it’s the end of the road for you. You may need people to rescue you from their angry crying.
So, ensure that your kids are well fed at all times wherever they are. Carry ample snack packets with yourself and keep feeding them every two hours or whenever they are hungry. This would ensure that they are not hungry. Also, make sure that the lunch is a good one, so they are full and ready to go on till evening and if they do toss a packet or two of their favorite snack and that should be enough to keep their hunger satiated. And to be frank it is not just kids that get hungry and angry. The elders can get equally mad too when hungry. So keeping ample bags of snacks is always going to be a great hunger-killer on the go.
6. Get quality gear for travel
The gear that you are carrying for your kid should not necessarily be of very high price but the quality may not be compromised. For instance, if you get a baby stroller that is not so strong and without any stopping or wheel locking such a baby stroller may not be appropriate for your kid. Similarly, when buying a car seat for your kid, ensure that the car seats are made from durable and safe materials.
So ensure that you get the best gear. You may have to shell out a few dollars extra for the gear. Quality comes for a price and always buy quality travel gear only.
7. Claim Child Discounts
Some of you might be feeling too shy to ask for child discounts but only if you knew that asking for child discounts can actually bring down the costs you would have never left one. A vacation is an expensive affair and any amount of money saved is always going to be of huge help. Many Government and private schemes allow discounts for children which many of you may not even be aware of. In fact, you can get discounts on:
- Private guides
- Entrance fees at amusement parks
- Restaurants and eateries
There is no harm asking for discounts. Ask for discounts wherever you go and you will certainly get one at least 2 out of 5 times and that may help you save a lot of money on the overall cost of the trip. You may even get options for child pricings online where kids charges are different from the adults. If you are pre-booking an email or a telephone conversation can help you get some amazing discounts that you were never aware of.
8. Know that everything may not go as planned
Okay, now this is an important thing to realize. Even in life, not everything goes as planned. The same maybe with your vacation. It may happen that the place you pre-booked and that looked like a princessâs castle is not that great after all. It might also just turn out that your favorite restaurant that you booked for a scrumptious afternoon lunch may be closed down for renovations. And since your kids are with you, there will be innumerable scenarios when your kids will be the reason for delays and many other issues and that is fine.
You must accept that there is nothing that you can do about unforeseen and unexpected circumstances. So, even after so much planning, you see things not going as planned, it is simple just let it be. Understand that not everything will go as planned, relax and enjoy the vacation you have come for.
9. Keep a check on your kids
This is something that is an obvious thing to do but needs a mention because this is the most important thing to do in order to ensure the safety and security of your kids. There will be instances when you may be too engrossed doing something to make the arrangements be it talking to the reception at the hotel or buying train tickets at the train station, a moment of inattentiveness and your kids would have wandered away from you. And this is enough to create a moment of panic and fear among the parents.
It is therefore important to ensure that you know where they are at all times. Keep a track of them while they are with you. Do not let them wander about out of curiosity. But despite all the efforts on part of the parents, it may still get impossible to find your kids. You can use a GPS tracker to track them and can fix it may be in their shoes and belt. This would ensure that you get to know every detail of their location live and otherwise as well.
10. Keep your contact information handy with your kids.
If despite all the efforts your child wanders away and gets untraceable, it will be very difficult to find them in an unknown country and territory. As such make sure that you put in a contact information card or something that will have all your contact details in full details, Your contact info may include:
- Telephone number
- Local Address etc.
The best way to do this with young kids is to put a note in their pockets. This would ensure that even if they are lost, they can be traced by the Information provided in the card. The best thing to do is to help your kids memorize your phone numbers and emails. For the local addresses write it down or feed in the information on the phones. This will help them trace their way back to the local address or get help from locals to get back even if they lost their way.
11. Carry basic medications
While being on a vacation, the chances of a family member getting sick are pretty high. This is basically due to you coming to an entirely new place and still adjusting to the weather and the food. And a sick member can ruin the day for the holidaying family. Whether it is the upset stomach of your child or the allergy of your partner to some pollen in the new place, you must be absolutely prepared to ensure that your family feels better as soon as they can. A quick checklist of the over-the-counter medicines are as below:
- Headache Meds
- Stomach Upset Meds
- Allergy Meds
- Meds for motion sickness
- Any other medication that you may need
If any family member is prescribed any medicines ensure that you carry the prescription along. Also before traveling, you must ensure that the medicines you are carrying are not contraband in the country you are traveling to. In such a case your medicines may be seized and you will have to do without the meds for the whole trip. So be sure to carry your supply of basic medicines and the prescription medicines to stay sickness free during the vacation.
12. Identification Documents
Before you embark on your journey, be sure to check if there is any additional paperwork that is required for the country you are traveling to. Often passports should be enough however there are certain countries that may need you to carry birth certificates as well and that is a way to prove that you are the parents of the children and is probably a way to keep a check on child trafficking. If you are traveling with children who are not your own or with the child’s other parent you need proper permission documentation to prove that you have appropriate permission to travel with the kids. Some of the documents that may be required include:
- Birth Certificate
- Notes from the child’s parents
- Other relevant documentation as prescribed
These documents need to be notarized and in English and the local language. But these documents may not be required in most cases. But stuff them in, just in case.
13. Bring tablets, phone or game systems
While traveling with your kids you must ensure that your kids are entertained at all times. The vacation destination is the one to keep them happy and entertained most of the time for all other times to ensure that they have access to electronic gadgets such as tablets, video games, a phone, etc. This will ensure that their boredom stays at bay and they are happy and entertained most often than not.
14. Bring loads of diapers and wipes
This is a no brainer and if you are traveling with a toddler this is a must-have part of your supplies. Make sure that you carry a good supply of these as they will need to be changed at least once or twice every hour or even more at times. Along with the diapers you will also need the wet wipes to wipe their mess clean. More the better.
15. Plan flight times and bookings strategically.
Flying with children can be a lot trickier. When you travel with the kids ensure that the flight times are planned in a manner that does not disturb your kids sleep schedule. Also, keep the maximum time between the layovers to the next flight so that there is ample time between the flights. You would not want to wait in long queues for check-in so try to go for a business class or a first-class ticket.
And the biggest tip of all is to just take them out and embark on that blissful and adventurous journey with your kids. Things may or may not go as planned but it would be an everlasting experience. Nothing helps your child’s minds open up so well than traveling experiences. Give them this chance of early exposure to new things and let their imaginations run wild.
Use our list of tips when traveling with kids for a smooth and hassle-free experience and get out there and explore the world worry-free.