Traveling with kids can sometimes be rewarding but also challenging at the best of times. Here are a few rips to help you stay sane so you can enjoy those memorable family moments together.
Explain the trip!
Going over an outline of the trip and what will be happening is a good idea and can help kids understand their situation and responsibilities at each point of travel. They will know what to expect next, and as a result, will be more comfortable with what’s going on around them and help them feel a little less overwhelmed.
Explaining the trip can include telling them what they can expect at the airport, on the plane, and once they arrive at your destination. Take this opportunity to go over your expectations for their behaviour throughout the trip. Detail how they should act on planes, or for road trips, in the car, in hotels, and on tours.
Plan well in advance
Life with children is so much easier when we are well organised. Having things planned such as airport/hotel transfers, accommodation, food and tourist attractions can save a lot of time whilst on your trip where you can set an itinerary, keeping in mind with kids that sometimes you need to be flexible as well so finding a good balance between structured and flexibility can be tricky. Try to use the same routines and flexibility you use at home so there is not too much interruption.
Leave Plenty of Time
For plane travel give your family plenty of time to check in, the last thing you want to be doing is rushing around. With connecting flights, you may need a few hours in between or for longer hauls an overnight stay is always a good idea to let the whole family get some rest and rejuvenate.
For long roads trips, take the opportunity to stop regularly to get out and stretch your legs and to also prevent driver fatigue. This is also a great opportunity for the kids to take a toilet and snack break. Try to find interesting locations to stop at along the way to make it more interesting or perhaps schedule in an overnight stop over.
Make sure with younger children that you try to stick to home routines as much as possible, this will help them feel secure in their strange surroundings.
The very last thing you need, is to be hauling endless amounts of luggage across the countryside. Not only does it take up space but also can become costly if travelling abroad, so only pack what you need. Most accommodation venues have laundry facilities so you can wash rather than having clothing for every day. For those children who are able to carry their own luggage make sure you have a carry on that is filled with all they need to keep them occupied on long haul flights or road trips and comfort items for the little ones to feel secure, plus pack some light snacks and drinks to keep their hunger and thirst at bay for times where you don’t have access to food outlets. The idea is to pack smarter you’ll be surprised at how little you actually need.
Finding the right accommodation to suit all age groups can be tough especially when booking an overseas trip. Take the time beforehand to research your accommodation venue to ensure that it caters for your children’s age groups. Most large resort style venues will have a kids club which is great as it gives the kids an opportunity to socialise with other kids plus gives you a break. It is best to find an accommodation where kids can play, either with a playground, water or swimming facilities or at least close to a park where they can run around and be kids.
Get them involved in traveling
There are so many ways we can get kids involved in travelling, not only does it keep them occupied but also gives them a sense of responsibility, ownership and also can take some pressure of yourself. For the older teenage travellers why not get them involved in the checking in process by them presenting their passport and luggage and filling in their own forms. Ask them to use their digital devices to capture family moments on video or take photos rather than them being self-absorbed on social media or gift them with a travel journal to record their travel experiences. For the younger ones a film camera is ideal especially water resistance cameras, you’d be surprised on how they see life from their perspective.
At meal times get the kids involved in setting and cleaning up the table or if dining out, get them involved in the ordering process by allowing them to tell the waiter/waitress what they wish to order.
On days where you have flexibility give them the opportunity to choose from a list of activities where you can create a last-minute itinerary with their own input, at times there will need to be a compromise especially if you have a few children to satisfy but this is a good learning experience.
For safety reasons it’s also a good idea to give your children contact details so if there is any separation you can be contacted. For younger kids it can be a wrist band and older kids can keep contact information in their phones or in a written note.
Learn about your destinations together
Prior to or whilst traveling it’s a great idea to sit with your kids either through books or the internet and research interesting facts about each destination and then afterwards discuss what their favourite or least favourite part about it was. This can lead into pretty interesting conversations and possibly a way of discovering new and other places to visit that were not originally planned.
Experience diverse destinations and attractions
Theme parks and kid focused attractions are great fun but it’s also good to provide them a good balance of fantasy and the natural world. Animal zoos and nature parks are a great way to entertain the kids and keeps their minds curious and active. Visit a local nature park, take a bush walk or venture off to a natural spring, waterfall or water hole. Kids can explore their environment and learn so much about their natural surroundings.
Water sports are also great activities for the great outdoors, hire some kayaks, canoes or a boat for the day. Teach them how to fish or go crabbing or even just shell hunting at the beach can be a lot of fun for kids of all ages. Ensure when hiring water equipment that there are suitable life jackets and water safety procedures and always make sure you keep an extra eye on your kids at all times.
There are times where things may also not go according to plan. The last thing you want is for everyone to become upset and stressed and this will be determined on how well you deal with the situations. When obstacles happen try and keep calm especially Infront of your kids as they have a way of internally blaming themselves. If you need to vent or cool off the best thing is to find a quiet private place where you can take a few deep breaths, relax and do your best to get everything sorted and back on track.
Enjoy the moments
Not every family has the opportunity to travel, explore and experience the world outside of their own homes so embrace it and enjoy the moments. Everything might not go according to plan, but your family will love seeing the world, and you’ll be planning your next trip before you know it.