5 Awesome Tips for Travelling with Kids & Travel Essentials Checklist [Guest Post]
Travel can be daunting when you have kids. Parents worry about the long hours in the plane or the car, packing everything you need, kids sleeping in new environments and the list goes on!
Both my husband and I have families who live abroad, plus we love to take shorter family vacations a few times a year, so we travel quite regularly. After nine years of parenting and being on the road or the plane with my three kids too many times to count, here are my five best tips to make your trip with kids more enjoyable.
1. Keep the Perspective
What's the objective of your trip? Is it to enjoy time together and make memories, to have educational experiences, or perhaps visit with extended family? Identify your main goals and act accordingly. It's usually impossible to do everything so setting priorities can be helpful.
2. Make Time & Space for the Kids to be Active
Giving the kids downtime to run around and relax is essential in my book. To me it's worth paying a bit extra or staying a bit farther outside of town if it means our accommodation provides a playground or a pool nearby.
3. Be Understanding of Your Kids
When kids travel they are experiencing a new environment, new people, new routine, and maybe even time zone changes. Be gentle and understanding of their feelings and exhaustion. I like to make sure my kids have access to foods they are comfortable with, ensure they have any special toys that make them feel secure. It's a good idea to give them as much one-on-one time as possible especially during the first few days in a new place. This helps them settle in.
Filling each child's love tank in all the regular ways is important, too, but can be easy to forget when you are occupied with all the other details of the trip. When the kids are having a hard day, I usually find that focusing on understanding them and connecting with them resets the mood. Words of encouragement, lots of hugs, reading storybooks at bedtime and having downtime together go a long way.
4. Give Everyone the Opportunity to Contribute to the Daily Schedule
When we travel (and also on weekends) we like to do one thing per day for each family member. Usually after breakfast we simply ask the kids what they want to do that day and then try to work it into the day's schedule. A typical example for our family while travelling looks like:
10am: Visiting a museum (Mum's suggestion)
1pm: Going out for ice-cream (Oldest child's suggestion)
2pm: Going on a family walk (Dad's suggestion)
3pm: Going swimming (Third child's suggestion)
5pm: Watching a favourite show (Second child's suggestion)
It usually works out if we keep an open mind and honestly it takes the pressure of creating the "perfect day" because everyone has a say.
5. Use a Travel Checklist So You Don't Forget What You Need
When you travel, you'll figure out what supplies you need to make a trip enjoyable. The most important thing to remember that stuff is just stuff. It may get forgotten or lost and that's fine; it can be bought or replaced. Here is my personal travel checklist for a general family trip:
Passports and visas
Plane tickets/travel itinerary
Long sleeve shirts
Jacket, coat, raincoat
Dressy outfit and shoes
Hat, scarf, gloves
Special sleep toys
Audiobooks/DVDs + headphones
Cards or small games
Paper and drawing utensils
Medications (pain relief, motion sickness)
Hair ties, hairdryer, styling product
First aid kit, sewing kit
Shampoo, soap, lotion
For the Children
If you want to print out a copy of this checklist, click here.