Picture this: a five-year-old screaming while running around in circles with stains down his shirt, a mother cleaning up spilled food and scattered toys in an airport lounge, a father chasing after said child while waving travel documents in the air like a madman. A little extreme? Maybe, but also an entirely possible scenario when traveling with kids.
As with many things in life, the key to traveling with your young one is to plan ahead. Kids are prone to boredom, fatigue, and crankiness especially if long plane or car rides are on the agenda. To make life easier, we’ve compiled some tips to travel with kids, listed in 11 essential hacks to help you plan and execute a fun family holiday.
1. No transits, please…
Whenever possible, book a direct flight and minimize transits. Racing across terminals to catch connecting flights works for solo travelers, but not when you have young kids in tow. On the other side, entertaining bored children for long layovers is a real chore.
2. Book a home away from home
Coming back to a family-friendly hotel can make a world of difference after a long day of sightseeing. You’ll be tired, the kids will be cranky, and the last thing you need is a bad night’s sleep. Not sure how to find a suitable place? Check our 10 tips for finding family-friendly hotels.
3. Easy peasy organizational tip
Plan ahead and keep your luggage organized by packing your child’s daily outfits in Ziploc bags. From shirts to accessories, having everything in a separate baggy will ensure that nothing goes missing. It’ll also speed up the morning preparation time so you can focus on the 101 things that need your attention.
4. Pack for emergencies
Kids are prone to dehydration, motion sickness, and overall fatigue when on holiday. Save yourself a trip to a local pharmacy in the middle of the night by bringing a travel medical kit. Your holiday destination might not have the medication you need (in the correct language) and your child’s body will also fare better with medicines that it’s familiar with. Other basic ingredients should include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer.
5. For the child who loves to run around
If you’re concerned about your child getting separated from you, get them a customized emergency contact temporary tattoo. It’s all fun and games until someone goes missing!
6. Avoid hungry tummies, pack a handy snack pack
Traveling often throws kids off schedule, especially if it involved long lines and travel times. Keep your little one content by repurposing a bead container or other container that you have lying around into a kid-friendly snack pack. Remember to include a chewable treat (such as gummy bears) to help alleviate ear pressure as the plane takes off and descends. Try to keep it healthy as too much sugar will have your kid bouncing off the walls!
7. Don’t bring your fancy stroller
Fancy strollers are great for traveling around in your home when you have a car and space. On a plane, big, complicated strollers just mean longer times to board a plane, bigger headaches with fitting it somewhere, and a massive problem if an important part breaks. Get something simple, cheap, and replaceable. If it breaks, just get another one wherever you are.
8. Prepare a compact travel goodie bag to keep your child entertained
Long rides are tests of herculean proportions when paired with easily bored kids told to sit still and be quiet. Plan ahead by preparing little bags of fun toys to reward kids during travel. For each milestone (a gas station, lengths of time, seeing a cow) you hand the child a bag to reward him or her for being a good kid.
9. Convenience is key
So you’ve survived the flight and made it to your holiday destination. Good news: you made it! Bad news: you’re all exhausted and there are taxis hollering at you, bus schedules to study, and train maps to figure out.
Skip the hassle of public transportation and book an airport transfer to ferry you directly to your hotel. You can always explore the public transportation system once you’ve gotten your bearings.
10. Skip the line at the ticket counter
The are never enough hours in a day when it comes to holidays, so plan your must-see attractions ahead of time and get the most out of your time there. Up your game by pre-booking your tickets online–some websites may have online discounts and packages, so make sure to do your research!
11. Rent a pocket WiFi router so they can Netflix on the go
Sometimes, the easiest way to keep kids busy is to let them watch some TV, but you’ll probably explode the 283rd time you hear “The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round” on a DVD player. Save your sanity by renting a pocket WiFi router to allow your kids some new episodes on a tablet or phone. As a bonus, you’ll also get to upload your photos and get directions via GPS by using the router!