Holidays are an essential part of life – time to recharge, take a break from the daily grind and most of all, to have quality time together as a family. They can be as simple or as extravagant as you like, as close to home or as far away as your heart desires – but whatever you decide, it’s going to take some planning (and yes, no matter how fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants you were before kids, a holiday with kids does require a bit of forethought!).
Obviously the age of your children, your level of confidence, how adventurous you’re feeling and of course your budget, will determine where you choose to go and how long you choose to go for. One thing’s for sure – there are many MANY options available!!
So, let’s run through some handy travel tips for when travelling with children to hopefully make it more fun for everyone!
- Include your children in the travel planning. Tell them about where you’re going, show them pictures and talk about the things you will do. It’s good to prepare them for what’s ahead and help them feel more at ease.
- If you can plan trips outside of school holiday periods it can save you a lot of money…so make the most of travel before your kids start school!
- Have realistic expectations for your trip, especially if you are heading overseas. Try to prioritise activities and attractions that are important and do them early on. Ideally plan for one major attraction a day, particularly with preschoolers and early primary age kids. Don’t try to do too much, and aim to keep afternoons for relaxing back at your hotel or holiday home. Also remember, everything takes longer when travelling with kids, so allow yourself plenty of time.
- Try to pack light! I know it can be hard if you’re travelling with a baby or toddler and all their related paraphernalia, but try to keep it to the essentials, and remember we rarely ever wear ALL the clothes we pack!
- Although we’re trying to pack light, things like children’s Panadol is a must, as are bandaids, insect repellent, antiseptic cream, sunscreen, antibacterial hand wash, lip balm, gastro stop, and the usual toiletries. And don’t forget baby wipes! Even if you don’t have a baby, wipes are so handy to have for inevitable spills and sticky mouths and hands.
- Taking a small light stroller can be a lifesaver for when little legs get tired. They weigh nothing, pack up small, and are great for use in the airport. Carriers are great for little ones but once you hit 15-20kg of child, a stroller is definitely the better option!
- If you are staying in a hotel, make sure to research it ahead of time. Some things to consider are room size and configuration, kitchen amenities (if any), cleanliness, facilities available (eg a pool or play area can be a great bonus), proximity to transport, attractions and restaurants/cafes. An included breakfast is also a good bonus, but if not available, then having a kitchenette will be even more important. Remember you will likely spend more time than you normally would in your hotel room, so it’s vital to make sure it’s suitable.
- Cots are usually available in most places, though their quality can vary greatly. Make sure to arrange this with the hotel prior to your arrival. If you are staying in a holiday house rental, the same applies, but if you are driving to your destination it may be better to take your own portable cot.
- Don’t forget to take photos! Better still, give the children a camera of their own to use (it doesn’t have to be expensive). It gets them involved, keeps them interested and when they get home they can use their own photos in their travel journals.
- Travel journals are a great way for kids to capture their travel experiences and to encourage and motivate them to reflect on what they have seen and done. They can be as simple or complex as they want, or is appropriate for their age and it’s something they will be able to keep forever. For some great downloadable travel journals, check out our shop.
- Whatever your view on iPads and electronic devices, there is no denying that an iPad can often be the difference between a meltdown and sanity – of the parents! Download some age appropriate games, apps and movies before you go and enjoy your quiet time!