Traveling with Children - Things to Keep in Mind for Holiday Travel
Updated: Dec 9, 2018
Many parents consider traveling with children a bit of a hassle. In fact, some refrain from traveling until the kids reach 6 or 7 years old. In reality, traveling with children could be no hassle at all. The key is planning in advance. The more prepared you are, the more enjoyable your travel would be.
Planning your trip
Always pre-book the accommodations before you start travel. There is nothing like reaching a hotel with a cranky child and being informed that there is no vacant room.
Do a detailed research of your destination and plan the activities or places to visit with children. If you have more than one child, it's always nice to allow each child to be given preference in selecting the activity or place to visit.
If you are traveling with a breast-fed baby, check whether breast feeding in public is permitted at the place of destination. In some countries, it is absolutely fine, whereas in some others you might have to go to a private space to feed the baby. Mom should keep an item similar to this during extended travel.
If this is your first trip with the child or if the child is less than one year old, it is better to start at a slower pace. Go to places that are close to you so that the travel time can be reduced. Avoid long flights if possible.
Consult with your doctor about any travel advisories. You may need to give your kid some additional vaccines based on where you are going.
Home stay is best while traveling with small children. Many services like Airbnb.com give you the option of contacting hosts to check how childproof a house might be or even request additional accommodations.
If you are opting for hotel stay, check with them about whether they provide hotel cribs for babies. For older kids, you can ask for an additional bed in your room. Some hotels even provide child care facility which could afford you with some extra quality time.
In flight, it is best to take a seat close to the lavatory as it will be more convenient for quick exits.
Low cost airline can save you few pennies. But you may not get the same level of comfort as normal airlines. Now that you are traveling with a baby, it is best not to compromise on comfort and facilities.
Leave early to the airport to avoid any last minute rush.
If budget is not a constraint, it is best to opt for guided tours with meet and greet option. That way your entire trip will be well organized which makes it easy both for parents and the child.
What to bring
Traveling without a baby bag is unimaginable for a parent even if it is a short distance. Depending on the distance and time taken, remember to stock up on baby food, boiled water, formula milk, diaper, change of clothes, baby wipes, pacifier and anything you think your baby might require during the trip.
It is best to carry a portable sterilizer to sterilize their feeding bottle and toys.
If you are traveling with an infant, carry a handheld carry cot. It is not only convenient but also double up as a bed inside the hotel.
If you are traveling with a child with special need, remember to carry the doctor’s details. You can also get a reference for a doctor at your destination.
If you are traveling to a tropical destination, pick clothes that are made of cotton. Hats and sunglasses are a must have if they are likely to play outdoor. On the other hand, while traveling to a colder destination remember to carry enough sweaters, socks, and other warm clothes.
If the child is under any medication, remember to carry the medicine kit with you. Non-prescription medicine for sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes should be a part of the kit.
If you are traveling with an adopted child, remember to keep the adoption paper handy. Similarly, if you are a single parent, you will be asked to produce the consent letter from your significant other.
While traveling with older children, it is best to carry entertainment options as kids get bored very easily. Toys, games, coloring books and stickers can keep small children occupied.
Mistakes to avoid:
Overpacking: Parents usually tend to over pack when they are traveling with small children. Check with the airlines as to what all baby products they provide before packing your cabin bag.
Choosing the wrong time to travel: It is always best to travel around the sleep time of your children. That way you can have a peaceful travel and need not have to worry about keeping the kids engaged during a flight or drive.
Not preparing for take off and landing: The air pressure difference at the time of take off and landing can cause ear pain. In order to avoid this, make kids drink something during both times. Chewing gum can relieve ear pressure if they are old enough to do so.
Not carrying enough food: A full baby is a happy baby. Depending on the time required to reach the destination, pack enough baby food in the travel bag. For babies who have started teething, it would be a nice idea to pack something to relieve the pain.
Not carrying toys or gadgets: Keeping the children occupied during travel is not an easy task. Toys, coloring books, and stickers come in handy to keep small children occupied. Gadgets like a tablet or phone can be packed to keep the older children occupied.
Going backpacking: Going backpack is fine with your buddies or with a partner, but once you have kids, it is very difficult to travel as a backpacker. You need amenities and running water at all times. Best to save backpacking for when they are older.
Not making a plan if separated: If small children get separated from parents by mistake, ask them to stay at one place. It is easy to trace them when they are in a specific location rather than roaming around and trying to look for you. Alternatively, you can also ask the child to get help from an employee of the destination or a police officer.
Time Management: Time Management is very crucial while traveling with small children especially toddlers. You should take into consideration the sleeping time and toilet time of the kids while planning your travel.
Always plan your travel during the sleeping time of the child. This way you can avoid having to find ways to keep them busy during travel. It is best to travel during late night or early morning. This also saves you cost as late night and early morning flights are comparatively cheaper.
Some kids throw tantrum during certain time of the day. Try to avoid traveling during that time. It is better that you stay in hotel to calm them down.
While traveling with toddlers and older children, carry toys, coloring books and gadgets to keep them engaged and manage their time.
Traveling with children can be fun if things are planned ahead of time. If your child is around 5-6 years old, explain to him/her where, how and when you are going and what they can expect at the place of destination. Tell them lot of positive things about the place so that they too are eager to visit and see the place. The more eager and enthusiastic your child is, the more comfortable your journey will be. Lastly, remember to take a ton of pictures. Your kid will only be that old once and you probably won’t visit too many of the same places while they’re young. Make sure to have fun and keep some mementos to remember the trip by.