With a bit of know-how and preparation, traveling with kids can be an enjoyable and enriching experience. Whether you're flying with children or taking your little ones on a road trip, our tips will help make your adventure easier, less stressful and more fun.
General tips for traveling with kids
- Take a test run: a short overnight trip or weekend away before a longer trip can help children adjust and learn what to expect. Plus it will help you know what to pack – and leave behind – when the big trip does come.
- Enjoy the free sights: the world is still full of them. Ask your hotel or locals about what’s great to do in the area – fairs, markets, museums, concerts, local culture, playgrounds, sunsets, walks, parks, and swimming spots can all save you cash while still keeping the kids happy and entertained.
- Visit the same place twice: if your child enjoyed it the first day, chances are they are going to enjoy it again, and be familiar with it, as well.
- Pack a picnic: save money and hassle by packing snacks, fruit and drinks and then look for spontaneous picnic spots to sit and enjoy.
- Improvise: leave the toys at home and play with whatever you find along the way – stones, flowers, shells, etc.
- Teach your child how to be a little explorer: pack paper and pens, a camera or a travel journal and encourage your kids to draw, photograph or write about their trip and experiences.
Road trip tips for traveling with kids
- Take along a picture book or a movie: Purchase or even borrow some from your local library. It'll keep your kids entertainment on the journey. Try to find a story that's related to the area you're visiting.
- Take frequent breaks: have a break every two or three hours. Map out great rest stops along the way, including picnic areas, playgrounds and parks – and let the kids out for a run. Don't schedule your trip too tightly, as this will lead to frustration - for everyone.
- Safety first: stock the car with a first-aid kit, torch, roadside assistance card, phone charger and plenty of water. Check your vehicle is roadworthy before you leave.
- Share stories or play games: especially on long trips – tell stories about your family when you were a kid, previous trips you've taken, games you remember playing in the car as a child; anything to keep the kids absorbed.
- Stick to a schedule: whenever possible, plan your travel time around your child’s normal sleep routine.
- Keep the inevitable 'Are we there yet?' questions at bay: give your kids a map and put them in charge of figuring out where you are and how much longer the trip is likely to take. Knowing how to read a map is a valuable life skill, and children are often happy having a job to do.
Flight tips for traveling with kids
- Take pre-flight steps: check in online and book your preferred seats from home. This will cut out the hassle of queuing or being seated separately.
- Pack the essentials: Pack your child’s essentials like wipes, medicine, nappies, milk, snacks, comforter and a change of clothes. If you pack necessities in your checked luggage, you run the risk of not only losing your bags in transit, but not being able to get to essentials until after you’ve picked up your bags.
- Take an on-board picnic: pack snacks and refreshments and bring something for take-offs and landings; similarly, let baby feed at the same time, as this can help them adjust their ears to the change in cabin pressure.
- Stick to bedtime routines: if flying at night, try and keep to your child’s bedtime routine: dress them in PJs, read a book, take a cuddly blanket or favorite toy.
- Have fun: bring along a travel pack of games and activities – pens, paper, stickers, puzzle books, and electronic games will help pass the time and keep your little one entertained; book an airline with inflight entertainment.
- Before you go: have a snack and go to the toilet before you get on or off the plane – you could be queuing in lines (i.e customs) for a while.
These are just a few of our favorite tips for traveling with kids, but we know one thing for certain: have patience. Be flexible with your schedule, slow down, take in the sights and let the kids explore at their own pace. Relax and enjoy your time together.