Top 25 tips on travelling with kids
It's the holiday season. Since this is a long holiday for kids, parents would most likely plan for vacations for the kids. The Wacky Duo would like to give our take on travelling with kids below 5.
Disclaimer : Tips may not work for all kids !
Planning a trip
Tip 1 - Choose a child friendly holiday destination
Trekking to Nepal ? Snow ski in Switzerland ? Snorkeling at the Great Barrier reef? Surfing in Hawaii? Shopping trip in Milan?
Sorry to burst your bubble, it's time to rethink holidays plans when travelling with kids. With kids, do look out for places that has activities cater to kids especially the younger ones. We like to choose destinations with theme parks, wildlife and swimming pools. It would be great if such destinations include some activities for the adults as well so they will not get bored. After all it is a family vacation not a kids vacation.
Tip 2 - For first timers, try a staycation first
A staycation is a good way to assess what you may need for a long haul trip. The benefits are that parents can gauge what to pack, what food are suitable for travellings , the logistics of feeding/ bathing/ changing the kids. A good staycation idea would a holiday at Resort World Sentosa.
Tip 3 - Plan around the region , especially if the kids are smaller and first time travellers
A trip to Europe may sound enticing, but for a toddler with no flight experience , you may face a screaming session on a 18hours flight. On that note, see our tips on ' The Journey' on what to do during a flight. Regional tours can be fun and exciting as most countries have child friendly destinations and attractions.
Tip 4 - Consider a package tour
A package tour may not be everyone cup of tea. In fact there will be complains on long bus rides to nowhere, unearthly wake up time , limited food choices. However if you do not want to spend too much time on planning and logistics, a package tour may be your best course of action. Moreover a package tour allows you to sight-see more places than you would normally do on your own. Choose packages with kids activities ( IE theme parks) and you will find yourselves travelling with families with kids. This way the kids would have new found friends to entertain themselves during the trips. Most tour guides are accommodating towards kids on tour packages.
Tip 5 - Packing
The rule is the younger the kid, the bigger the luggage. Young kids needs diapers , milk powder, kid's medication, daily change of clothes,swimwears, favourite pillows and occasional toys for their travel needs. The smaller they are, the more they will consume ( especially diapers) Pack enough to last though the whole trip as baby supplies varies in different countries. You may find difficultly in finding the child favourite milk powder and they might go hungry as a result. As for perishable food, do not that certain countries ( e.g Australia) limits the food allowed to the country.
Consider a lightweight umbrella stroller. They come in handy especially if you have two kids or more to carry when they fall asleep or when you are walking long distance.
The best part about this form of packing means you have extra space for your overseas shopping and souvenirs when the diapers are disposed.
Tip 6 - Don't leave home without a travel insurance
Travel insurance is a necessity. Most people overlook this, but given the motto 'Anything can happen' It is better to be safe than sorry. We had personally experience flight delays and even burglary overseas. Having Travel Insurance would help ease some of the financial losses along the way.
Go for a full inclusive package that covers the travel journey as well as personal baggage. If you travel more than twice a year, consider the annual package. Take the family package as it covers individuals on their own personal trips during the period (for annual package)
Tip 7 - Leave your valuables at home
Most travel insurance have a limit on individual items ( even the most expensive ones) With that it may be better if you leave your valuable especially those that are above the limit at home. There is no point flashing the fancy jewellery or watch on a beach vacation or when you are out on the theme parks with kids.
Tip 8 - Do a pre flight check
Passports - checked. Luggage - checked. Airplane tickets - checked. Travel insurance - checked.Water the plants- checked. Feed the dogs- checked.
You get the drift... Do check out your list the day before the flight and avoid any last minute hassle on the actual day of travelling.
|Ready for flight|
Tip 9 - Choose a night flight for flights above 6 hours
Try to match long haul flights with the child sleeping time. Both you and the child can get a good rest on flight. Do note that kids below 2 have to purchase an infant seat. This means they either sleep on the bassinet if available or suitable ( weight limit 11kg) or you may need to carry them to sleep
Tip 10 - Choose the first row seats
Book your seats early, do a pre check in for the first row seats. The first row seats is where bassinets are available. Do check with the staff at the time of booking to play safe. If all else fail, use your charm or beg to get the first row seats. With a wider leg space, kids would not feel so cramp and they get to get up and walk once in a while.
Tip 11 - Be early
Changi airport is one of the better airports with kids facilities. Be there early before boarding to allow the kids to have some fun. Having them expanding their energy before boarding would also mean that they may be more tired when they board the plane . This increases the chances of them taking their siesta on board the flight.
Tip 12 - Priority Check in with young kids
One of the perks of travelling with young kids is that you get the board the plane first ( for most airlines). So cut short the transit shopping and be early for boarding. Early boarding also mean more time for the kids to settle in.
Tip 13 - Prepare your own inflight entertainment
By now, you may have heard horror stories about kids travelling on planes. Not all kids are used to travel in a confide space ( unless you travel first class) , it may be good to bring their favourite toys or a drawing book for them to play . Load their favourite tv programmes or movies in the IPAD or portable DVD player. Keep things as fresh as possible. It should preferably be something they have not played in a long while or seen before to keep them engaged. We would normally pack a small handy bag filled with these little surprises for them
Tip 14 - Pack a fresh set of clothes on flight
Accidents do happen on flights. It may be the unexpected poo, the messy in flight meals or the reaction to over crying (i.e vomit) that result in dirty and smelly clothes. Do pack a fresh set of clothes for the kids and even a top for the adults for those ' just in case' moments. Do pack a light jacket for kids as flights can be quite chilly at times. Don't forget the diapers and the milk as well.
Tip 15 - Ask for your meals early
It's not easy to feed a toddler on the plane, especially one age below 2. Request for an early meal for at least one parent. That way you can take turns to eat on the flight while the other feeds the kids. Given that it usually takes a longer time to feed the kids, it may be better if you eat first than later.
Tip 16 - Don't over plan a trip
The best holidays are those that you have fun no matter what. With younger kids, it is best not to over plan to the precise details ( unless you are on a package tour where you simply follow the itinerary) . Some general planning is good; such as where to go, what to do when you get there. But forget about the minute planning as travelling with kids can be unpredictable.
Tip 17 - Go with the flow, be flexible
This brings us to the next tip. Be flexible in your travel plans. Sometimes it may mean you may skip an attraction, change plans on the spot or overstaying in another. Regardless take it in your stride and you will find it more enjoyable. Holidays are meant to be relaxing and not a to-do list.
Tip 18 - Ensure that the accommodation is safe and secure
Check the locks on the hotel. Ensure that locks and safes are in working condition. Do lock your doors every night regardless of the place. Ensure cash,travel documents and valuables (such as watches and cameras) are placed in the safe even when you are in the hotel.
The last thing you would want is to encounter a burglar especially with kids.
Tip 19 - Be Generous to your host / guide
Tip the guide or host for their services. It would be very much appreciated. Build rapport with the guide (especially if you are going to use him for the whole journey) and this relationship will be useful. With good rapport and understanding, you could direct the guide to the kind of holiday you would like. In times of emergency (such as theft) , the guide may be necessary for assistance (Police report, translator, etc)
Tip 20 - Pack your day luggage accordingly and avoid over packing for day trips
Pack the essentials such as diapers , meals and extra clothing the night before. Avoid over packing. Leave the toys out of the day bag. There will be many new sights and sounds that should distract a toddler in a holiday. The lighter weight also mean you can travel better. Consider a stroller especially if the travel destination is child friendly.
Tip 21 - Do your research. Look out for kids friendly places
Keep a lookout for child friendly places such as a restaurant, a shop or an entertainment outlet. Such places can give you the much needed break in between the sight-seeing or shopping time. A little research prior to the trips would be useful if you taking the free and easy route.
For us, we tend to look out for the local science museums, kids friendly malls or even McDonald's within the vicinity of our destination. This would be alternatives to our original plans should we need to change our plans ( due to long queues, unforeseen weather, closure of attractions etc)
Tip 22- Prepare to do a little housework while on the road
Pack your bottle sterilising tablets and detergent ( especially for long trips ). It may be a holiday but someone still has to clean up the kids and provide them their daily needs. No, most hotel Housekeeping staff would not clean the milk bottles or bathe the kids for you; unless you leave a very big tip!
Tip 23 - Plan activities for everyone in the family and not just the kids
Taking a holiday does not equate to just entertaining the kids. Plan some time for your own activities as well. It could be a visit to a place you want to see, to a shop you want to patronise or a restaurant you like to eat in. It could even be a solo activity ( the other parent takes turn to watch the kids ) You are on a holiday, not a kids boot camp.
Tip 24- Give yourself and the kids a day or 2 to recover before going back to work/school
Ever feel like you need a holiday to relax from the one that you just came back from ? Taking holidays with kids can be tough work, so do yourselves a favour . Take an extra day or 2 from work to unwind and sleep in. Trust us, you need it.
Tip 25 - Make a video , photo collage or even a journal or blog as a memory keepsake
How do you keep those holiday spirits going after a holiday?
Make a video to watch. Kids don't remember all the details , so making a video is a good way of reminding them. It comes in handy for family gatherings too. If making a video is too stressful, how about making a photo- collage and frame it. That way the kids can see their holiday experiences everyday.
And if you really want to share your experiences, keep a online journal or blog about it. As a result, memories can be shared with many and hopefully inspire others in their own holiday preparation.
Have fun and happy holidays!