So, you’ve decided to go away with your little ones – Brave! Traveling with kids is completely different to traveling on your own or with friends. Less freedom, more worries and a lot more entertaining to do on your part. But fear not, it is doable. With a few considerations, extra precautions and a barrel load of patience, traveling with your kids can be an amazing experience for all the family. Follow these steps and your time away from home can be relaxing, fun and can bring the whole family closer together.
1. Prepare your kids:
For young kids, traveling to a different country can be very scary. Different people, different language, different weather, different food… That’s a lot of different for a little guy! So, how to prepare them;
- Research and plan together. Kids will be a lot more excited and comfortable with traveling if they are aware of what is going to happen. Let them be a part of the planning of flights and accommodation. Discuss with them the flight times and how you will get to the airport. These little things will help them understand and be ready for the trip. Showing them pictures of the location, fun things to do and new places to explore will intrigue them. Imagine their excitement when they see that shimmering blue pool full of toys they saw on the internet is right there in front of their eyes! They will be completely comfortable and will forget that they are even away from home. This shock-free method is perfect!
- Practicing for the holiday. Another great way to get kids used to the idea of ‘different’ is to practice with them. This can be fun for both you and them, and will teach them about the new country they will be visiting. A major problem parents can have on holidays is the food. Sure, most adults love to try new cuisine when abroad, but picky kids can make McDonalds the easiest place to eat by throwing one little tantrum in a nice authentic restaurant. Don’t let this happen! Prepare in advance. Before your departure, have a ‘holiday night’ at home. This involves a small bit of preparation and a lot of fun. Make the foreign cuisine at home with your kids; include authentic music and decorations like little flags in the meals. Your child will them be super excited to visit a real restaurant and will be eager to try the food. This means everyone is happy!
- Show them safety. It is also very important to show your kids how to keep themselves safe on the trip. Before heading off to a sunny destination, buy some sun screen and show your kids how to properly apply it at home. This will get them used to buttering themselves up every day, and avoids drama and tantrums when you arrive to your location in the sun. Other ways to protect your kids while keeping them happy is buying them a cool new hat and a pair of shades. They will love wearing them, and their eyes and head will be protected from the sun.
- Bring comforts from home. If your child sleeps with a teddy bear, only eats meals out of one bowl or sometimes will only go out in public in a Spiderman costume… BRING THEM ALL. There is nothing worse than a child crying over something that was left at home. Before departure, allow your child to bring one thing from home. Keep it strict so they do not want to bring their whole play room, but don’t stress over what they want to bring. It will be worth it when he or she is snuggled up in bed sleeping soundly so you can have some time to yourself.
2. Prepare yourself:
Once your kids are prepared for their first holiday abroad, make sure you prepare yourself! A little planning and preparation goes a long way once you arrive at your destination. Here are a few things to consider that will make your trip painless for you and the kids.
- If you are going to be renting a car on your trip, please choose carefully. Make sure the car has enough space, air conditioning and a radio. Long journeys will be never ending if you have three squashed screaming demons in the back seat.
- Bring entertainment, or know how to provide it. A lot can be said for an audio book, a movie soundtrack or a CD of the families favorite tunes. Make sure you have access to these at all times, whether they are kept in the car or stored on an MP3 player. Other options are good old fashioned games like ‘eye spy’ or riddle solving. They supply endless entertainment for everyone and can make time in the car or airplane fly by!
- If your trip is going to involve a large amount of time driving in a car, make sure you are smart about it! Traveling at night is perfect if your kids can sleep in the car, but understandably some people don’t like driving in the dark. If this is the case, try beginning your journey as early in the day as possible. Arriving to a destination early in the morning will give everyone more time to settle in. Stops in a park, by a river or in a cafe are essential for long distances. It breaks up the journey and gives everyone a chance to get some fresh air and stretch their legs.
- Bring baby wipes. This is, without a doubt, one of the biggest life savers when travelling. Perfect for spills, nappy changes, washing hands, blowing your nose, removing dirt from something, wiping your face. Make sure you have at least one pack at all times!
3. Be extra safe:
When traveling with young kids, you can never be too safe. Here are some extra safety precautions to consider when traveling with kids.
- Give them safety rules on arrival. Things like staying away from the pool unless an adult is around, never to go to the neighbor’s house without asking etc are important to establish at the beginning of the trip.
- Always decide on somewhere to meet if someone gets lost. Big crowds and a new town can be quite daunting for a little one, and getting lost is too easy. Always give them a place to go if they are lost, and point out people like police to them, so they know who to talk to if you get separated from them.
- For young kids, child leashes are a great option. You may feel like you are getting weird looks from people for having your kid on what looks like a dog lead, but this is a live saver. You can relax more knowing your kid can’t get too far away from you. Safety before fashion!