Top Travel Tips To Survive Travelling With Kids!
With the help of these top travel tips, you’ll be having holiday family fun in no time…
Travelling with children is nothing to fear – you just need to get organised, and plan ahead before your trip – particularly when flying!
Over the last few years, and several trips with the kids (and a whole lot of trial and error!) later, I’ve worked out quite a few tips and tricks along the way – I just wish I’d known them a whole lot earlier!
So hopefully here I can save you some trial and error of your own, and help you and your family get to your destination just a bit more rested and happy – or at least, not completely losing the parenting-plot!
Here are my top travel tips for travelling with children…
First-off, here’s a check-list of some not-so-obvious essentials that you may not have already thought of…
- Sign your whole family up to your air-carrier frequent flyer scheme – we’ve been with Virgin Velocity for years, and you can pool your family points together!
- If you’re shopping for new luggage, try to buy suitcases with four castor wheels on the bottom – they are much easier to move, and even a child can push one easily!
- Take along kid’s travel pillows with a loop sewn on to hang off your carry-ons – these can have many uses, such as a security toy/pillow for children, a foot-rest for adults, an ipad rest, etc.
- Pack some gummie lollies in your carry-on for the kids to chew on during take off and landing to help keep their ears unblocked – for babies, a dummy or bottle will do the trick
- Buy a phone charger case for an instant push-button battery boost – smart phones have so many uses now, including checking-in – and a (parent life-saving) kid’s video game back-up!
- Always keep hand sanitiser, wet-wipes and tissues in your bag – public toilets can be…basic!
Child-safety travel tips…
Get some safety habits firmly in place before you go anywhere to help keep your child safe during your trip – and beyond! Here are our family safety basics….
Teach your child to memorise your mobile number
If your child can sing a nursery rhyme, then they can memorise your mobile phone number – sing or chant it in the car before you travel, and teach them that this is what they need to tell someone offering to help them if they are lost. It may be wise to also write your phone number onto a younger child’s arm in marker – just in case!
It’s vitally important to teach your kids that if if they lose you anywhere, they should stop where they are and wait for you to find them. Teach them that you will never leave the building or area they have become lost in without them, and that they must never leave with anyone else – ever.
Hold your child’s hand in public places
Hold your child’s hand in public places – even older children if you are in crowded, unfamiliar territory. They may think it’s “uncool”, but explain to them that it’s a family travel rule to help keep everyone together and safe.
For times when your hands may be full, such as moving through the airport with your baggage, attach a handled strap to your bag for your young child to hold onto. Teach them that they must not let go! Toy-backpacks with a lead attached can be great travel accessory to take along for adventurous toddlers too.
Distractions are everywhere when you travel, but it’s much harder to lose a child that is attached to you in some way!
Getting-ready-to-go travel tips…
Get real! Setting realistic trip goals
Before you go anywhere, sit down and carefully write out all of your trip goals – your absolutely must-visits and the essential activities that you must do. Then screw it up into a tiny little ball and throw it in the bin!
You need to prepare yourself with realistic expectations before you leave. When travelling with children, it’s quite possible that you are not going to make it all the way up the Great Wall of China, or to the end of your Kakadu cliff-climb – or even out of the toilets at a stop-over airport!
But with some luck, you may just manage a few of the things you would like to do – they’re just probably going to take you twice as long! But you know what? They will be twice as special now, because you’ll be doing it along-side of your kids. You’re opening up new worlds in their eyes – and that alone is an incredible thing to witness!
Never take more baggage than the adults of the family can carry. Because it’s quite possible that you’ll end up struggling with the lot!
When travelling, sometimes kids get sick. Or tired. Or hungry. Or cranky. Or sometimes just full-on tantrum-y for absolutely no reason!
When a young child’s good mood goes out the window at the airport, they dump their everything – wheelie bag, blankie, 3 toys they just HAD to bring – on you. If you’re really unlucky you may even need to carry your child too! Plus don’t forget the fact that at the end of a holiday, you almost always bring back more than you left with!
The old travel rule remains – travel as light as humanly possible, and don’t walk into that airport with more than you can physically manage yourself.
Some in-transit travel tips…
Everywhere we go, the first thing we do as a family is agree on a huge and obvious central meeting place – just in case we get separated. Nothing is full-proof, but back up plans are never a bad idea, and this agreed meeting place method is especially useful for large, busy locations such as airports, where losing a spouse or teen can mean losing precious minutes – and perhaps even your flight!
During flights keep your carry-on down at your feet
Make sure your carry-on bag with any kid essentials – bottle, dummies, snacks, activities, video games etc is small or squashable enough to fit under the seat in front of you so that you don’t have to be getting up and wrestling with the overhead locker every five minutes during the flight – or are locked off from it altogether during take off and landing. There’s nothing like twenty minutes of “Can I have my video game yet?” to listen to until the plane levels out – grrr!
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But when you’re travelling, it’s so easy to slip into the habit of eating junk food a lot, mainly because it’s just so readily available – but really, at any opportunity, make the extra effort to get some fruit and vegetables into everyone. Healthy options are out there – even if it is just fruit salad at the airport or a side of veggies in the let’s-deep-fry-everything tourist restaurant. It will help protect you all from getting sick, avoid kid-sugar-crashes, and sustain everyone’s energy for much longer.
That said, sometimes hamburgers and french fries are a much better alternative to nothing at all!
We all hear fellow-parents putting off taking their kids on major trips – It’s all too hard – babies have routines you don’t want to break – toddlers are going through a tantrum-ing streak, or you think the kids are too young yet to appreciate or remember the trip…
Go anyway – you can handle it! Kids are adaptable. They will eat and sleep places other than home. Yes, they may well tantrum on you, or exhaust you – but they’ll do that at home anyhow – you may as well be somewhere exciting!
Never underestimate the power of travel to educate, entertain and enrich lives – no matter what the age. Even if your kids are too little to remember much, as they grow you’ll have some exciting tales to tell them and photographs to show them about their very-own travel adventures!
Despite the parenting challenges, it’s all worth it when you get to see the look of wonder on your child’s face when they become an eye-witness to an exciting travel experience – or meet a new native animal – or see an amazing sight!
So just go – because travel is the stuff that extraordinary family memories are made of. Take the travel plunge – plan what you can, accept what you can’t, and know that you’re all going to have a great time, tantrums and all – enjoy!
Do you have any Top Travel Tips of your own? We’d love to hear them! Tell us in the comments below….
This post was our entry to the Virgin Australia competition for Problogger Event – we made the top ten, and were proud to be a finalist in this great competition!