Written by special contributor, Hayley Jennings
Traveling with kids can be tough at the best of times and brings with it extra responsibility. Therefore, when planning to travel with babies and young children, there is even more to consider before you set off on your adventure.
While traveling with your kids in tow may not be the carefree experience that you had in your days before parenthood, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a lot of fun. If you have always been a keen traveler, it can feel stifling to be “tied down” once you have kids, as that wanderlust never entirely goes away. Travel can benefit children in so many ways, so if you are able to continue discovering new places once you become a parent, then why not do it?
Traveling is a great way to open your children’s eyes to different cultures, to experience different tastes, smells, and sights, and to discover the beauty that exists in the world. The experiences gained through travel could benefit other areas of your child’s life too. They may be more confident to try new things, and they may gain a more open-minded view of the world.
Thorough planning for your trip will make it both less stressful for you and more comfortable for the kids, too. Careful preparations should make the journey all-around more pleasant for everyone, and make your experience of traveling as a family a positive one. Here are some of the ways that you can prepare for your family adventure.
Research Your Destinations
Knowing what to expect when you arrive at your destination is crucial when you have kids with you. Arriving at your hotel room with an overtired baby only to find that there is no crib provided for them is a massive pain. This means that you will find yourself trying to solve problems from the very start of your trip. If your child needs to be carried or use a stroller, then check out what the terrain is like outside your accommodation. If you have to navigate over rocky, uneven ground, then getting anywhere could be pretty hard work. Researching the practicalities of your trip in advance will save you a lot of hassle.
Get Your Documents Sorted
If you require a visa to travel or need other documentation, be sure to sort this out way before the start of your trip. Kids are likely to become restless and agitated if they are delayed at the airport, especially if they are waiting for you to go through the relevant checks because there is a problem with your travel documents. Sorting out paperwork and travel documents can be time-consuming. The processing of documents can take ages, so getting everything sorted way ahead of time is a great idea. Also, don’t forget to check the amount of time that you have left on your passport before it expires. Different countries have different rules on the amount of time that should be remaining on a passport. Without the required amount of time left running on your passport, you could be refused entry to the country you are visiting. Being denied entry to your destination would obviously cause major problems and could mean your trip ends before it has even begun.
Staying healthy on your travels is, of course, a big concern when you have the kids traveling with you. Children are, by nature, curious, and accidents can happen all too easily, so having a basic first aid kit with you is helpful. If you are taking your vacation in a hot climate, you will need to take extra precautions to keep the kids hydrated and to prevent sunburn. Babies and young children can particularly suffer in high temperatures which can cause conditions such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and heat rash. Knowing the signs to look out for and how to prevent these conditions from occurring is essential. Find out more about baby heat rash and preventing it, by reading this article: Baby Heat Rash: How To Treat And Prevent It.
Another crucial thing to get sorted is your travel insurance. If yourself or one of your family members is injured or falls ill during the trip, you will need it. Travel insurance can provide the peace of mind of knowing that you can receive the help and assistance that you need. Getting medical treatment abroad can be hugely expensive, so it is a good idea to look into travel insurance options.
If you have the option, try to arrange your flights for times that will bring the least disruption into your child’s routine. A flight that departs at a time when your child usually naps could be a bad thing. This is especially the case if they are going to be awake but overtired and cranky while you board the plane. If you have a long journey from your home to the airport and an early flight in the morning, it could be helpful to book a hotel that’s close to the airport. A little extra sleep can be a good thing for everyone involved. A tired mom or dad and cranky kids is never a good combination!
Packing is one of the least fun parts of preparing for your vacation and is an essential but time-consuming task. Although it may not be exciting, getting your packing right can make your life so much easier, on the journey and when you arrive at your destination. Pick up an inexpensive luggage-weighing scale before your trip to check that your bags don’t exceed the weight limit. Weighing your cases before check-in will save you the embarrassment of having to rummage through them at the check-in desk in front of a queue of your fellow passengers. Lastly, it can be tempting to pack a separate suitcase for each one of your family members. But try to pack a little of everyone’s stuff into each suitcase. Therefore, if one or more of the bags go missing, each family member will still have some of their items.
Hand Luggage Essentials
The items you pack in your hand luggage can make or break your journey when you have little ones with you. It is a good idea to think really carefully about what you include your hand baggage so that you can maximize the space for those baby-friendly essentials. Diapers and wipes should be packed at the top of your bag so that you can quickly grab them when they are needed. If your child uses a pacifier, be sure to have a few with you, so that you have a clean one in case one gets dropped. Sucking on a pacifier or feeding during taking off and landing can help to rebalance the pressure in your baby or toddler’s ears and help to ease the discomfort for them. Packing a few small toys and books in your hand baggage is also great for distracting little ones and keeping them entertained during the flight. Sticker books are an ideal distraction for kids of all ages, as they are both visually stimulating and require a degree of concentration. If they have a favorite blanket or comforter, it is worth packing it, too, so that they feel comfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings, and feel reassured enough to sleep if they need to.
If you have been feeling apprehensive about traveling with the kids, try not to let it get you down. Kids can pick up on tension really quickly, and it may cause them to act up, or become anxious about the trip too. Once you have planned everything that you possibly can, it is time to relax and enjoy the experience.