One of the best things about travelling with kids is seeing the world through their eyes. One of the worst things about travelling with kids is that chaos can quickly ensue, turning your dream holiday into a nightmare. All you can do is expect the unexpected, and make sure you have all bases covered. So here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Kids – please feel free to add your own:
1. If you’re going on a car journey, take towels and changes of clothing ‘just in case’ of accidents, which will inevitably occur if you’re stuck in traffic on a motorway. I don’t need to draw you a diagram, but take it from me, you never know when you’ll need them.
2. As soon as they’re ready, switch to a stroller – this makes it so much easier to fly. And if you’re going somewhere where you need to hire a car, always take your own car seat (some companies insist on this).
3. If you’re taking a flight – long haul or short haul – it’s worth packing a few new toys and books so that if you’re waiting around for any length of time, you’ll be able to keep the kids vaguely amused at the airport once they’ve worn out the battery on your iPad. It’s also definitely worth considering booking an airport lounge, because that way, you’ll be out of the crush of the main hub if you’re delayed, and there *should* be something on offer to keep your little darlings entertained without going stir crazy.
4. Before you book a great holiday deal, check out the transfer times. Kids don’t respond well to sitting on a coach for hours after they’ve just been on a flight, particularly if you’ve been up since 4am. Weigh up all the pros and cons before you book that ‘bargain’ break. And as soon as they’re old enough, encourage your kids to get involved with choosing and planning your holiday. That way they can’t blame you if they’re not enjoying themselves.
5. Try not to fret if your baby cries on a flight – just do whatever you need to do to help soothe them, whether that’s walking up and down the aisle or singing to them. Ignore anyone who tuts.
6. Always mix up kids’ stuff with your own when you pack, so that if one suitcase goes missing, you all have something to wear. And take swimsuits in your hand luggage – just in case a case gets delayed.
7. Pack an essential medical kit – e.g Diorolyte, Calpol, plasters, and always stock up on inhalers, anti-histamines and any other essential medication before you go. Remember to take suncream (it isn’t always cheaper in resort), sun hats and sun suits.
8. Try to adopt the lifestyle of the place you’re visiting – for example, when we’ve been on Mediterranean holidays, we’ve always had afternoon siestas and late dinners. That’s the wonderful thing about experiencing a different culture. Embrace it.
9. Don’t try to stick to your at home routine if you’re changing time zones. You’ll all just end up bad-tempered and exhausted. When we’ve flown to Florida, kids are usually so hyped up about going to the parks it seems daft trying to put them to bed. They’ll still get plenty of sleep (eventually). Don’t worry about trying to get up too early when you first arrive, either. And if you’re flying to Asia or Down Under, try to get a night flight – that way the kids will be tired when you board and are more likely to sleep.
10. You can only plan so much. Whether you’re visiting theme parks, or exploring a city, or going on a beach holiday, when you’re travelling with kids a lot of the time you just have to go with the flow. As long as everyone’s happy, that’s really all that matters.