Travelling can be a big source of anxiety and travelling with young kids is sometimes dismissed as being too difficult to be worth the trouble. Moses had neither the luxury of advance planning when he had to pack up everything in the desert, nor did he have the vast array of resources that are available today to facilitate travel planning, but follow his lead in having a little faith. These three broad tips will make travelling with young children seem less daunting.
Before leaving, some smart planning can help ensure you have an enjoyable time. Go old school and pick up the phone to call the airline. You would be surprised that a short conversation, after being on hold for ages, will leave you with complimentary seat selection and extra baggage allowance. Calling ahead also gives you a greater chance of securing the bulkhead seat for longer overseas flights. These seats provide extra legroom, a bassinet for newborns, and are free of charge for travellers with a child under two.
Plan out your travel route, paying particular attention to how to get to your destination from the airport. Will you need to rent a car? Will you need cash for a taxi? Book your accommodation in advance and make decisions based on your priorities, such as proximity to the beach. Limit the number of sites you’ll visit and stay a bit longer in each place rather than cramming in too much.
Know the rules and regulations for your destination. Will your car seat meet local standards? Up to what age are children required to use a car seat? Car seat laws differ from place to place and Canadian car seats may not even be permissible.
Now that your departure date has finally arrived, start by checking that your flight is scheduled to leave on time. Plan to arrive at the airport a couple of hours early. If you’re anxious about missing your flight, chances are the anxiety will rub off on the kids.
Travelling with young kids means that you can bypass lineups and pre-board. Ever wondered why there is never any room in the overhead? That’s because us travellers with kids board first with lots of carry-on!
Even though they may have just eaten, kids will get hungry on a flight and complain they don’t like the airplane food. Plus eating is something to pass the time, so save your snacks until the plane has actually taken off. Pack snacks and then pack more snacks.
If you think bathrooms on airplanes are small, wait until you try changing a diaper in one of them. The only thing worse is running out of diapers on a flight. Pack a couple more diapers than you would normally need in a given time frame.
Travel with at least one change of clothes for each family member in your carry on. If your luggage gets lost, at least you have a fresh change of clothes. Also, spills or accidents are common on airplanes.
Did you know that airplanes can cause teething in toddlers? Be sure to keep the Tylenol and a soother in your carry-on and not in your checked bags.
Don’t forget the headsets, but don’t rely on TV and movies to keep young kids entertained. It’s also crucial to pack books, light toys, and crayons to keep everyone happy.
Establish a routine
Perhaps what intimidates people about travelling most is the idea that their routine is going to be disrupted. I think it’s important to accept that there will be a different routine and that this can be liberating for everyone. At the same time, it’s possible – and important – to establish some sense of routine while travelling to ensure everyone stays well rested and well fed. Try booking accommodation with kitchen access and sufficient sleeping space for all family members.
Involve your kids in picture taking and make a photo book soon after your return. Coming home from a holiday can sometimes be accompanied by a let-down, but creating the photo book can help extend pleasurable feelings from the trip.
All this said, chances are flights will be delayed, you’ll miss a connection, you’ll realize you forgot your kid’s favourite stuffed animal, and the accommodations looked way better online than in person. Don’t sweat the small stuff, a lot about travelling is out of your control. Yes, this is going to cost a fortune, but there’s no better way to go broke.