There’s no getting around it: Traveling with kids can be daunting. Not only do you have to brace yourself for tantrums on the airplane and other public places, but you also have to consider your children in every decision you make. In reality, it’s a lot like everyday life, only you’re going places!
While traveling with children can be stressful, it can also make for a much richer and more satisfying experience. And if you incorporate a few tips before and during your trip, you can seriously minimize the stress and maximize the good times. Here are some tips from The Wonder Map to keep in mind as you get ready to go on your family trip:
Choose a Destination for Everyone
If your child is an infant or toddler, you can pretty much go anywhere that is safe. They won’t remember the trip, and they won’t really care where you’re going as long as they can eat, sleep and play. However, if your kids are older, you will need to make sure everyone’s interests and desires are considered. Pick a destination that has activities for everyone in the family, and it will be a hit.
Consider the Low Season
Peak season comes with a higher probability that you will experience great weather at your destination, and possibly a few more special events. But if you travel with kids during the low season, you won’t have to deal with the overwhelming crowds and all the disadvantages that come with that. In other words, the low season can make for a more relaxing vacation, not to mention significantly less expensive all-around.
Determine Whether to Drive or Fly
Driving leaves you with more control over your itinerary because you can come and go as you please. However, flying gets you to your destination faster. Which is best really depends on whether you want to spend most of your time at your destination or make a journey of your road trip. Also, taking flights comes with a lot more planning and preparing, and it can quickly get stressful if you don’t think everything through.
If you decide to drive, you will need to make sure your kids have entertainment readily available (and a source of power to keep everything charged up). Invest in a car WiFi hotspot device so that you can have a fast and reliable internet connection wherever you are. These kinds of devices will allow your kids to stream their favorite content (e.g., movies, games, music, etc.) on a tablet or smartphone.
Strategize Your Travel Times
The times of day you travel with kids will make a big difference in how smoothly your trip goes. Try to schedule your flights or drive time during sleep times. Though it’s usually more expensive, evening flights can prove much less stressful because your kids can sleep through the night. And be sure to leave plenty of time between connecting flights so that you’re not rushed to get to the next terminal. If you’re taking a road trip, leave early in order to maximize your kids’ sleep, and take breaks throughout the trip to stretch, eat, and relax.
Pack Enough (But Not Too Much)
Lastly, you want to pack efficiently for your trip because having what you need can keep stress levels down and save you from having to make expensive purchases. If you’re flying, check with the airline about what you can take as your carry-ons. If your children are younger, be sure to pack essentials like extra pacifiers, snacks, clothes, plastic bags, pillows, a tablet, and so on. However, you should still try to pack light.
Travel with kids is hard, we know, but the less you pack the less fuel needed to get you there! Most kids can wear the same shorts several times and a dress for dinner will only be worn for a couple of hours so can it be used again. Caveat – consider a big bib for baby-led weaning.
Other items to bring: your own sippy cup or beaky, a reusable water bottle for you, and a shopping bag. Little ones can be very particular about their beaky or sippy cup, so it’ll help encourage more fluids in hot countries as well as reducing straws and bottles. Toss the bag in the suitcase and keep the water bottle handy for you for water fountain fill-ups.
Before You Go
Don’t forget to power down the nursery. Turning off electronics saves on the electricity bill and cuts down on energy usage. To make an even bigger dent, unplug all electronics since they can “leach” power even when they’re not turned on. Your baby monitor, angel monitor, gro clock, and plug-in room thermometer will all use power while left in the nursery. Turn down the thermostat before you go too. An empty room doesn’t need to be heated, and keeping it warm unnecessarily uses up energy. If you have your own water heater, go ahead and turn that down, too. Unless there’s a chance of frost while you’re away, it’s ok to turn it all off completely. Just ask a nice neighbour or grandparent to pop in before you get home and warm the place up a bit.
Unwrap and recycle before heading out the door as well. If you purchased new products before the trip (an iPhone charger, a new box of Calpol), recycle the cardboard wrappers before leaving home. Your hotel room may not have a recycle bin, plus it’ll all fit in your suitcase better.
Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed next time you travel with kids. Pick a destination that the whole family can enjoy, think about going during the low season, and weigh the pros and cons of flying versus driving. Also, try to schedule your travel time during sleep times, and pack as efficiently as you can. Most importantly, don’t expect everything to be perfect, and leave a little extra time for everything!