Oh, I love this, As I write this as I am also packing for my next vacation to Thailand to mark my father’s 60th birthday. While I cannot wait to board, I am equally excited to share these 20 most promising and effective tips to keep in mind while travelling with young children.
- Food, snacks and water: Make sure to pack bite sized snacks in the child’s backpack along with a bottle of water. Beware, this is not a meal substitute but only a small snack to hold hunger and buy you time until you have a proper one. It is a good idea to use small zip locks for some munchies and biscuits on the go. Refrain from carrying full packets which only add on to the weight the child must carry. Having small sips of water keeps the child hydrated and less likely to get cranky.
- First aid and medicines, sanitizers, wet wipes and tissues: Be sure to pack your child’s regular medicines along with some basic first aid. I have seen people pack in these items in checked in luggage, but I prefer keeping a dose of each in my handbag as well. Two tablets each of painkiller, paracetamol, stomach infection, motion sickness medicines along with some band aids are a must to carry. Sanitizers, tissues and wet wipes go without saying.
- Comfortable clothing and shoes depending on the location and weather: I would also advise to carry some quick dry clothes, a pair of sunglasses, hats or caps and a good mosquito repellent and sunscreen lotion so that you don’t come back with a sun burn or mosquito rashes all over yourself and your child.
- Entertainment basics in their individual back pack to keep them busy: Refrain from giving your gadgets to children while on the move. Not because it drains the battery but because then they stick to the screens forgetting to look outside and explore the unexplored. Instead keep a small notepad and a pen handy and play some pen and paper games or mind games to keep the little minds occupied.Read a related post here.
- Let them know your itinerary and day schedules the previous day itself: Believe me this works wonders. Letting the child know of your plans prepares them for the day. They know what to expect and enables all to stick to time schedules which can otherwise go haywire.
- Let them nap whenever possible, tired kids are the crankiest: Let them sleep in the flight or on long commutes via road. Tired eyes will not enjoy the prettiest of sights and make life hell for you. Instead let them rest at intervals so that they are fresh to welcome any surprise.
- Make them responsible (age specific): Children of this age should be made responsible for their own belongings while the older ones can pitch in to volunteer to taking care of younger siblings or do some chores on their own. Let them help you in packing and unpacking by folding clothes or organizing things in the closet.
- Let them research on the city of travel: What to do, how to go, where to go are some things which children aged 9 and above can research on their own. Make use of the gadgets and apps available and let them do their homework. This not only makes travel simpler for you by knowing their interests but also educates them about the city or town you are travelling to. It fosters curiosity too.
- Plan the day according to the children and not according to you: While you may want to shop, your child may want to visit a water park instead. These conflicts of interests often cause disturbances and holidays become a torture. Instead lay down your interests as well as your child’s interests, allocate time and days for each so that each one respects the choice made by the other. This ensures a nag free happy holiday.
- Keep a day off: This may not be possible always but if you can and if time permits keeping a day off gives you time to relax and enjoy the day at leisure. Making notes, visiting a nearby park or going for a walk or coffee or a visit to the country side could be good options for this day. This gives you some cooling off family time with kids too.
- Keep a cool head throughout the trip: When you are travelling with kids you need to deliver extra patience and support. No nagging, no yelling will not only ensure happy days but also reinforce good behaviour in your children. Praise your child when he or she delivers desired behaviour and refrain from punishments and time outs. Keeping a half hour buffer will also you some time to manage untimely delays and emergencies.
- Do not overpack, instead pack with your child: As parents we always tend to pack extra for our kids. What if they get drenched or soil their clothes? What if you forget their favourite t-shirt or comfortable crocs. Packing with your child ensures that your child will wear what you have packed and not complain about leaving their favourites behind. As growing up kids they should be allowed to choose and pack as well.
- Gear yourself with some pen and paper or mental games while on commute: I spy with my little eye, word games, crosswords, mental maths, cross and knots are some games we enjoy while commuting. These keep them busy and less likely for them to get bored or complain.
- Let them make a travel journal: My 7-yr. old has documented all her travels till date. She writes about her day before sleeping each night. This not only allows her to cherish memories but also makes her more observant and mindful throughout the day.
- Let them use the washroom: Make sure that the children use the washroom and relieve themselves before leaving the hotel each day. Educate them with basic toilet hygiene to avoid diseases and infections. Since they will be using public toilets, spraying the toilet seat with water and flushing before and after using the toilet aids in avoiding any contamination. Washing hands after use and sanitizing every time is a must too. Toilet cleaning wipes and disposable toilet seat covers are also options you might consider using.
- Shopping allowance and budget: This can be tricky and embarrassing if not discussed beforehand. Allowing a budget to each child ensures good shopping behaviour and sensible purchases.
- Try booking for non-stop flights: No doubts about it. Non-stop flights make travel hassle free specially when travelling with kids.
- Contact and money: Write down two emergency contact numbers and stick it inside their back pack. Also give them some basic money to use when in need. These practices make travel safe and protected.
- Identify an assembly area when in a public space, parks or malls: Identifying an assembly area ensures that you will all find each other in that designated area if you get lost or loose sight of each other. Not all children carry phones hence making a safe place is always beneficial.
- Carry back packs or cross body bags to keep the hands free for all: This goes without saying. Cross body bags or hands-free bags allows you to hold your children in public places and roads. Carrying luggage and shopping bags becomes easier when your hands are empty. Back packs give you space to dump in unwanted sunglasses or other accessories which your child may be carrying too.
I hope this curated list sorts all your travel anxieties specially when travelling with young children and makes travelling fun for you . Do connect with me and comment if you think I have left any relevant point.
Until then,happy travelling …
Happiness and sunshine