When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I remember someone said to me, “It’s a good thing that you’ve done your share of traveling, cause now that you’re having a baby, things like traveling is about to become more complicated.”
I smiled politely, but a thought did cross my mind: “Really? Having a baby is the end to seeing the world?”
I admit I allowed myself to be worried a little — traveling was one of my favorite things and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of that. I couldn’t help but wonder though…. is it possible to actually travel with a small kid (or kids), in tow?
Now, a few years down the road, two sons later and several family trips below our belt, I can confidently say, “Yes”.
Is traveling with kids the ideal situation? Well… honestly, no, but it’s totally possible and by taking a few things into consideration, it can be an enjoyable experience.
Since having kids, I’ve traveled for leisure and for work. I’ve been on planes, trains, cars. Been away weekends, weeks, even months. Same country, different country, different continent, the other side of the planet. I’ve done it all with the kids.
Will all kinds of trials and errors experienced, I’d love to share some tips with you. If you’re a parent who wants to travel with your kids, then read on…
5 Stress-free Family Trip Tips
1. Have an open agenda (or as I like to say… “Go with the flow”)
Let’s face it — kids are little human beings that are difficult to control.
So what does a parent do to be as stress-free as possible? Expect very little or nothing at all, and let everything just “flow”. Let everything happen as it will. Like my friend Veena wrote, “Relax, Breathe & Let Go”. Don’t try to be perfect. It will be impossible.
But what do you do if control is your thing? These tips might help:
1. Allocate lots of time: If you don’t want any surprises, then this is the best advice ever. Wake up early, get to the airport extra early, set off on your trip in advance. This was you can take all the stops or setbacks you need, and can remove the pressure of time from your mind cause you had the head start you needed.
2. Lower your expectations: Do you want to go somewhere that’s 12 hours away and still look flawless? Mmm, don’t think so. Be open to making an exception — maybe you won’t look like a supermodel as you step off that plane, and your hair won’t look like you just got out of a salon, but at least you made it to your destination. Be grateful for that. Focus on what’s important, i.e. the fact that you arrived safe and sound and just let the rest be. If you can do that, half your worries are already out the window.
3. Always start with a smile: Make life just like your favorite sitcom (read more on that here), which always starts with a smile. If something doesn’t go the way you want it, have a sense of humor about things. And if laughing it off at the time seems tough, try to muster a smile at least. It will loosen things up and help you maintain some of your sanity.
2. Bring along something familiar
Kids like order and routines. And by travelling, you are changing their routine up, so my advice to help them cope with this change is to take something familiar to them along with you on your trip. It can be a favorite toy, their night blanket, a song they always sing — anything that helps them believe that order in their life still exists. This will help relieve some anxiety if any, making things more relaxing and smooth.
3. Bring along something new
The “something new” is for the fights, the “I’m bored!” moments, the tantrums…
I always bring along a new toy on the trip. It doesn’t have to be something fancy or expensive, just something new. It’s a quick and easy distraction.
My favorites are things for painting or anything that requires some sort of manual task (also make sure these are small and easy to carry along). Think cards, coloring books, apps that you can play on a tablet. Something like this or this can do the trick.
4. Make technology your friend
I know some parents are against this, but for me, it can work like a charm. In fact, my husband and I are so connected and online all the time ourselves, I don’t expect my kids to be completely detached from it either.
On normal days back home there are curfew hours for when the kids are allowed to be on their devices, but when we’re traveling or on holiday, I’m more relaxed about it. Why? Because not only is an Ipad easy to carry around, you can play videos and games on it which helps when it comes to delays and extra time to kill.
5. Your bag is your sanctuary
Mine certainly is. It took me a while to find the “perfect bag” for traveling. I needed something that was manual enough that could carry a lot of stuff. Right now I’m using one of this. I love it cause it’s trendy-looking, it’s lightweight, and it’s washable.
So what goes into these bags? Here’s a good list:
- One set of change for each kid
- Diapers for a day or two
- Wet wipes
- A small blanket for those cold times (which can double-up as a mat if we need to sit on the floor)
- Some toys
- Bottle of water and a bottle of milk (or just milk powder)
- First aid kit
- For mummy: Clean top and a cosmetic bag with some essential toiletries
Important: I don’t carry money or travel documents in this bag. For that, I have a small travel bag or a cross-body bag (something light that I can carry with me all the time).
So there you have it — some tips if you dream of traveling but have little kids in tow. If you go prepared with an open mind, it can be amazing experience for the whole family.
Do you have any travel tips to share? Add your tips in the comment section below.
P.S. Like this article? Also check out 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Having A Baby.