Are you taking your kids? Did the kids go with you? The two main questions we were asked when the kids were little. Um we have this thing happening called ‘a family’, so yes the kids are coming with us. I’m going to try to convince you to fly/bus/train with your kids. We have been lucky enough to travel with ours since they were babies, and yes it can be exhausting, and yes it can be frustrating and yes it can be lots of other things. But then travel without kids can be all of those things too. Hopefully some insight and tips will give you the courage to give it a go, because the pros far outweigh the cons.
Depending on the age of the kids, have each child bring a small backpack filled with their toys and goodies for the trip.
Don’t forget the baby wipes. Even if they are out of nappies, these still come in handy for wiping hands and faces. And if they are still in nappies, pack more nappies than you think you will need for the trip. I have been caught short and it was not pretty! (Think gastro bug on a 12 month old)
Pack a change of clothes for them. It’s so easy for them to make a mess, and it’s not pleasant for anyone to have them covered in vomit for a long haul flight. I have also found that pyjamas for the young ones are a good idea – pop these on and it signals sleep time. Hopefully.
Speaking of sleep time, from experience I would advise against any medication that is meant to relax them. Sometimes it does just the opposite, and for us that meant a 24hr flight that I was in no hurry to repeat. (The same flight as the ‘not enough nappies’ – ‘twas a nightmare) On the way home we were not game enough to give my son anything, and he slept like the baby he was. Passengers that gave us looks of horror when we boarded were giving us high 5s when we left. Look if you feel you must give them something, my advice would be to try it at home first.
Check their passport expiry dates. I know this sounds like common sense, but children’s passports only last five years, and they have a habit of expiring when you least expect it. It costs an arm and a leg to renew one at the last minute. Trust me on this one.
Pack a small first aid kit for those bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes that are part and parcel of being a kid. Children’s paracetamol won’t go astray either.
Take your time and try to book ahead. This might take the spontaneity out of it, but it also removes a lot of the stress of turning up somewhere with no accommodation booked, and a toddler in tow who is over-tired and looking for bed.
If your children are school aged, encourage them to keep a travel journal, even if this just means drawing pictures. Journals keep them busy. My kids now love reading through their first journals and reminiscing.
Travelling with your children will open up a whole new world, not just to them but to you too. You will gain more of an insight into the life of a local. Kids open more doors and start more conversations. Your children will learn patience and resilience. There are endless queues, things get lost, weather turns bad. A traveller of any age has to learn to expect these, accept these and adapt. What an education they will receive. We have explored museums, climbed over ruins, been guided by archaeologists, crawled through tunnels and pyramids. We have learnt about the slave trade, held dinosaur bones in our hands and paid our respects at war sites. We have climbed mountains, swum at deserted beaches and sailed the high seas. We have had adventures together, created memories together, and enjoyed life together. What more could a parent ask for.