We all know that children can be a handful at the best of times. However when you take them out of their normal home environment to go abroad or even just for a staycation, their levels of problematic behaviour can sky-rocket unless you are well prepared. With school nearly out for summer for all primary students, I have compiled a list of my top ten tips for travelling with children based on my own experiences (and mistakes of course).
10 Tips for Travelling with Children
I know that sometimes you can count on children of older ages to look after and entertain themselves. It is obvious that the younger the offspring you are travelling with, the more dependent they are on you for entertainment and that you are less likely to let them out of your sight too. I have tried to spread these tips over the 0-12 age bracket as best I can. So enjoy the list and hopefully it can help you in some way, shape or form! :)
1. Have a Clear Itinerary
The days of strolling around a foreign place and letting holiday just unfold before you are completely gone. ‘Winging it’ can cause you several problems if you are travelling with any children. You may just realise you have picked a holiday destination with only three days worth of activities that you have to spread over a one week period. The last thing you want is your children to get bored or for your holiday to become stale. Make sure there is plenty of meat in the sandwich before you buy it! :)
2. Hold off on the Sugar
It is a simple thing to take the foot off the gas when it comes to looking after your children’s diet when on holidays. The carefree mentality that comes along with any sort of holiday can get to our heads and we might allow our children to eat and drink certain things that they would normally never come within a million miles. I can guarantee you that this should be avoided at all costs. If you’re making any sort of journey, be sure to pack more savoury and filling snacks. An example of this would be bagels, brioches, fruit or cheese. There is nothing worse than travelling with children who are in the middle of a sugar rush.
3. Optimise your Flights
Sometimes our holiday budget forces our hand when it comes to picking flight times. In an ideal world we would be able to pick the exact travel time to suit us but of course this is not always possible. However, let’s say if it is your first trip with your offspring, it is definitely worth paying an extra few Euros for daytime flights that will not disturb sleeping patterns. You can’t put a price on the prevention of your head being wrecked.
Also make sure your entire family are sitting together during your flight. It can often occur that airlines allocate you to sit separately from your children. It is best to make sure this is not the case well in advance of your trip because it will save you the hassle of an argument on your day of travel.
4. Flight Attendants are There to Help
Irish people are cursed with an inability to ask for help. Don’t feel as if you’re causing any bother to your flight attendants if you feel as if they have something they could help you with. At the end of the day it is the job of an air host or hostess to make your trip as comfortable as possible. You are not the first family they will have dealt with, and you will not be the last either. An example of this would be asking if they have any games to keep your children occupied. Emirates are a great example of this because they often will have special activity packs they can give to children to keep them ticking over. You never know until you ask! :)
5. Give your Child Control
Sometimes it can be a great idea to give your children control of their own immediate environment. What I mean by this is, something as simple as giving your child a specially designated camera to let them document their holiday, can help keep them distracted for the duration of your trip. It can cause a level of pleasant distraction that will take some of the pressure off your shoulders and it will also gift your children a feeling of independence that they often crave. Also it is perfectly okay to pack games and handheld devices for your children to play with. Everybody needs a time-out at certain points and allowing a child the ability to switch off from their surroundings can be a great help to both you and them.
6. Pack Lightly and Shop Local
Do not be afraid to leave a bit of space in your children’s suitcase. Sometimes we feel as if we have to pack our entire armoury of child-related bits and pieces. Before travelling you should attempt to formulate a clear list of only the bare essentials. It may seem silly to say it but people often forget, the place that you are travelling to has shops too. So you will be able to pick up any relevant pharmaceutical things such as maybe; E45 cream or sun cream handy. Also you will be surprised how much joy your children will be able to get out of a €2 euro plastic ball from a beach side shop. Trust your travel destination and hotel, because you really can’t pack everything!
7. Pick a Relevant Hotel
Very much like the first tip I gave you, it is essential that you pick a hotel that will be relevant to your family’s needs. Do not just jump at the cheapest deal because you may leave yourself with a destination whose infrastructure will not be able to meet the needs of your family. Be sure to research areas with appropriate kids clubs and kids animation. It will allow your children to socialise and will also give you freedom to enjoy
8. Set Designated Meeting Points
If you’re travelling with children in their early teens and you’re on a resort or visiting a new town, sometimes that child may want to explore a bit on their own. If this is the case their younger siblings may want to tag along with their cool older brother or sister. When you venture to any sort of new environment, you should always begin by setting a designated meeting point. Sometimes a marketplace or shopping centre may be so vast that you will not naturally bump into them. So maybe pick an obvious, stand-out feature or a shop with a name your child will definitely remember just in case they get lost. It will simply be a case of telling them to go there by phone, or them saying the name of the shop to the nearest person. It just increases the likelihood of you reuniting with your child sooner rather than later.
9. Pack all Medicines well in Advance
We always set ourselves a goal of having everything packed comfortably, at least a few days before we have to depart. Through various different reasons though this never seems to work out. Things are put on the long finger and there is an inevitable last minute rush that has us pulling our hair out. This is something you cannot really leave to chance when it comes to medicines. Be sure to prioritise that before clothes, shoes and toys. It is easy to track these types of things down when abroad, but if your child has a specific condition that requires a daily medicinal treatment, this may not be quite as easy to find. We are human. Humans often forget and make mistakes but really make sure to tune in when it comes to this detail in particular.
10. Don’t Apologise for your Children just being Children
One thing you have to remember is just how draining and stressful long journeys can be at times. At the end of the days your kids are exactly that; kids. If they’re moody, don’t feel as if you have to apologise to the people around you. They clearly have never experienced the stresses of travelling with children. Your own kids are not made of stone, sometimes they will have tantrums, fits of laughter or crying and the overwhelming urge to ask you a series of ridiculous and pointless questions. If you see people on planes, in trains or in restaurants rolling your eyes, don’t be insecure. It is a part of child’s personality and to be fair, these are the highs and lows of a family holidays that are what can make them such memorable and cherished experiences, when we look back as we get older.
Family holidays are often stressful but an incredibly worthwhile experience. There is a lot of trial and error involved when it comes to finding your comfort zone for travelling with children; as is the case with parenting in general also. Here are some useful websites from airlines if you have any more questions about travelling with children: For example from Ryanair’s and Aer Lingus.
These are just ten tips for travelling with children that might help you along the way. If you have any of your own tips, please share them under this post or on our Facebook, because you may just be helping a part somewhere without even realise!
School summer holidays are nearly here. I hope you and yours have a series of safe and happy adventures in 2015! :)
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