While we love them immeasurably, kids can turn into mischievous, little monsters who make even the shortest of trips seem like a year’s worth of nightmares. From fighting over toys with their siblings to their unrelenting desire to come up with new ways to do things they are told not to, it would be an understatement to say that travelling with kids is a tremendous task. To help you keep you sane, here are a couple of pointers that are sure to ease the burden.
1) Get a backpack for hand luggage. This is especially important if you are travelling with a battalion of children or with a toddler who needs your constant attention. A hand luggage keeps your hands shackled while a backpack frees them up for essential duties such as holding your kid’s arm and just generally ensuring they don’t stray away in crowded public places such as train/bus stops. Moreover, you’ll also be able to easily ransack for passport and other documents as and when required.
2) Games go a long way. There is no greater ticking time bomb than the mind of an unoccupied kid so be sure to always have something for them to do and video games will come in handy in this regard. Alternatively, you could play road games with them like “I-spy” or simply just set aside some playtime in-between stops so that they can release all that pent up energy that would otherwise be directed somewhere undesirable. For smaller children, new cuddly toys such as teddy bears can also do the trick and eat up several hours.
3) Travel at night. Perhaps the greatest kid hack of all time is travelling after the sun sets. A night journey means the kids will probably be asleep most of the way there and you can enjoy your flight/road trip unencumbered. No tantrums, no yelling, no fuss; nothing but pin-drop peace and quiet. Perfect!
4) Watch the fluids. “I want to go to the bathroom!” is one phrase you aim to keep at a minimum especially for air trips and you can do that by ensuring the kids don’t drink too much prior to the journey. Otherwise, you’ll make several laps back and forth across the aisle which is good exercise but surely those in adjoining seats will not be too thrilled to make way every so often. Also, ensure everyone makes a trip to the loo right before the journey.
5) Board first. You cannot indulge in last-minute rushes with kids and you know just why that is so if you’ve seen the 1990-classic “Home Alone”. To avoid scouring through airports/bus stations like a dear racing for survival with a cheetah hot on its heels, arrive early and take a breather in the waiting area. You are more likely to forget luggage when you’re looking to beat the clock and the other benefit of boarding early is that you’ll avoid haggling over overhead space.
6) A spare seat and changing station in the back of your car helps too. If you’re travelling by car and with a toddler, don’t make the backseats an extension of your trunk. Rather leave a spare seat beside the baby so that you can simply jump right in should he/she require your immediate attention or in the likely scenario of a diaper change. Setting up a changing station in the back row also helps alleviate having to do so at stores and gas stations.
7) Carry lots of snacks. A hungry kid is an angry kid so pack lots of snacks. With the onset of hunger, tantrums are usually not too far behind so have snacks at the ready especially if you are travelling by car on a route where stores are few and far between.
8) A first-aid kit is of the essence. A first-aid kit should feature among the very first items on your packing itinerary as kids can easily get hurt along the way. You should have the requisite necessities for cuts and bruises and for fevers and stomach upsets as well. All in all, your kit should encompass standard requirements like Band-Aids, disinfectants and a thermometer. If your kids have certain allergies, then be sure to put their allergy medication in the kit alongside a couple of back up shots just in case.
9) Get comfy clothes for toddlers and travel light. Stretchy pants and sleeping regalia are the default clothes for babies as a long journey can make usual wear quite uncomfortable. So pack plenty of these. Conversely, keep your overall luggage at a minimum instead set more aside for your budget so that you buy what you need when you get to your destination.
10) Test the waters with a trial run. If you’ve never seriously travelled as a family before, start out with a simple test say like a weekend camping trip away. By doing so, you’ll get a clearer picture on how best to deal with your kids, daily routines, what to pack/leave behind and what you can get done in a day among other useful information. A trial run will give you reliable insight so that you can plan for the journey ahead accordingly.
It would be an outright lie to say that travelling with kids is easy but these pointers herein will make the trip considerably manageable. Have a great one and safe travels!