Although we don’t yet have children ourselves, we’ve spent a lot of time this summer travelling abroad with young children all under the age of 10. This isn’t something we’ve done before and so our eyes were opened up to what a different experience this can be and how to explore a new place with young children.
Travelling with young children can feel daunting and we know plenty of people who dread the thought of it. But having the opportunity to create new memories with your kids is something worth the trouble of actually getting to the destination. So if you’re having second thoughts, here’s our top tips to help you bite the bullet and book that trip!
1. Take it slow
We’re so used to rushing through the airport, walking along the travelator and up and down the escalators. When travelling with children, those days are over and you have to take it slow, stopping to enjoy the excitement of being in the airport each time you come across something new. Make sure to account for this when looking at timings. The recommended two hours to drop off your luggage, get through security, make sure everyone is fed and watered and get to the gate may not be enough time so giving yourself that extra bit of wiggle room will make the whole experience that bit more relaxing. And if you end up with too much time at the airport, let the kids tire themselves out in the play area so they can enjoy a much-needed nap on the plane. You can thank us later!
2. Be smart with hand luggage
Dealing with an excited toddler, a pram and your luggage whilst trying to find your passports – sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? The simplest solution to packing smart is the use of a rucksack, leaving both hands free to hold your toddler whilst also being able to deal with any necessary documents.
Also think about what you are packing in your hand luggage. Try to keep it minimal but don’t forget to account for any potential delays you may face. Whilst you may want to pack lots of toys and books to keep the little ones entertained for the duration of the flight, instead pack one toy/book and a tablet with some child friendly apps downloaded leaving plenty of room for some essentials in case your bags go missing.
3. Don’t overpack
Whilst you may have got the art of minimal packing down to a T, packing for children is a completely different ball game. Packing items that can be used for more than one purpose, or that can be easily hand-washed is key. Mix and match outfits to try to minimise how much you are taking to avoid those pesky carry on charges.
Speaking of which, unless you have a very specific requirement, many things can be purchased whilst abroad so don’t feel you have to take two weeks worth of nappies or wipes with you. If you’re concerned about your child having a reaction to new products, do a test run with a different brand before you go to make sure both you and your child are happy.
4. Book ahead
You may be used to being spontaneous and booking things on your travels as you go along. However, with kids this isn’t as easy, for example you may get to the hotel you want to check in to and find they don’t have any family rooms left. Be prepared, do some research and find out what you’d like to do beforehand. Perhaps an apartment where you can recreate a home is what you’re looking for, or an all-inclusive resort with access to the beach is more up your street.
With day trips and attractions, find out if they are suitable for children and book them to ensure you have relaxation days interspersed between the more active days to give everyone plenty of time for rest and relaxation.
5. Prevent those food related temper tantrums
This one may appeal to some adults as well, I know it’s certainly relevant to me! Have some healthy sweet and savoury snacks stashed in your carry-on to avoid those hunger pangs taking over your travels. When you arrive at your destination, stop at the local supermarket to top up the snacks so you’re always prepared when out and about. This will also prevent you having to stop for more unhealthy meals when your child is hungry and keeps that carefully crafted holiday budget in check too – win, win!
Mixing jet-lag, being out of routine and a different diet can sometimes result in illness. Whilst it’s not necessary to take a full first aid kit (remember you can always buy more plasters etc from the supermarket) it may be worth taking some absolute essentials and child friendly medicines (in the UK we’re thinking Calpol) to soothe those aches and pains.
7. Should you take a car seat, pram or both?
Now this is a really tricky one to give a straightforward answer to. It really does depend on where you’re going and the type of holiday you are going on. In some countries you have to have a car seat for your child and this can vary up to the age or height of your child. Car seat hire can cost up to £5 per day and can also add a premium to taxi fares. Many airlines allow you to take your car seat or pram with you free of charge so do some research to see what the requirements are for your destination to avoid having to pay unnecessary costs. Your pram could also be a blessing allowing your children to rest their feet throughout the day and allowing them to take naps where required.
Do you have any top tips for travelling with children? Let us know in the comments below.
The Rambling Travellers