Travelling with children can be a nightmare but with plenty of planning and foresight you can make it less of a challenge. Sit down and plan where you are going, what you are going to need, and what you can do to make things easier for yourself. I believe that the easier things are for you the less stressful the holiday. Dads & kids are generally able to relax and have a great holiday but sometimes it's no holiday for mom (please excuse the pun!).
Make a list of everything that you will need to take with you. Keep this list handy so that you can use it when you pack to leave and use it on your travels when you need to check that you have everything with you when coming home. There is nothing worse than having sick kids on the way home to find that you have left the medication at your holiday venue, or worse something valuable.
Older children can be involved in the planning of the holiday. Make it sound fun but don't get them too excited, holidays can also be tiring for kids. Some children get homesick on long holidays especially if you are sitting somewhere without all the applicances you are used to such as TV, DVD's, Microwave ovens etc. Make sure to include enough family events and child orientated activities to amuse the kids while away. If you can, keep your trip as simple as possible and try to eliminate possible problems before you leave. Remember that children have short attention spans and will get tired very quickly. Complicated trips requiring lots of travelling, jam-packed itineraries or too many visits to adult-orientated attractions, such as museums, can be tiring for children. It may end up that the adults do not enjoy something they have saved up for and really wanted to savour.
* If traveling by plane, ask for seats near an exit to give your child a safe spot to play on the floor.
* Choose appropriate accommodation, i.e. self-contained with two or more bedrooms, self catering is wonderful if you have fussy eaters. You can always take the children out to child friendly restaurants if you need a break from cooking.
* Find out if you can hire baby furniture items, such as pram, stroller, cot and high chair, rather than lug your own.
* Use disposable rather than cloth nappies.
* When visiting attractions with older children, try the 'trade-off' method - activities for adults in the morning, balanced with activities for the kids after lunch.
* Use any baby sitting facilities at your hotel from time to time so you can have a break. Do not leave your children alone, even when they are asleep. Children may wake and wander off looking for you. This is a strange environment and not only is it upsetting for the child but it may have life threatening consequences.
* If you are worried about losing your child while on holiday, investigate the possibility of using a service that has ID braclets.
Fun Ideas for travelling & holidays
* Older children will enjoy takiing pictures with their own disposable camera and girls may enjoy keeping a holiday diary.
* Look at our Kids Page for ideas on traveling games, we have included templates that you can download for hangman, tic tac toe, join the dot and also some colouring in pictures.
General safety suggestions
* See your doctor about vaccinations beforehand, if appropriate.
* Pack sunscreen, hats and insect repellent.
* Be particularly vigilant about the potential dangers of unfamiliar places, such as unfenced swimming pools or balconies. Explain these dangers to older children and keep your eye on younger ones.
* Take all sterilising equiipment with you if your child is bottle-fed.
* Avoid animals such as dogs, cats and monkeys to reduce the risk of bites.
* Take a first aid kit containing items that you use at home when your children get sick i.e. paracetamol, thermometer, anti-itching lotion, oral rehydration preparation and plasters etc.
Safety suggestions during transport
Car - always use appropriate restraints, such as seatbelts or car seats. Don't stack items on the back ledge of the car or over the steering wheel, as these items will become dangerous flying projectiles if you have to brake suddenly. Use shade cloth to keep the sun from shining in your child's face. Plan for plenty of toilet stops.
Keeping your child amused during transport
For small children pack plenty of small toys. Offer the toys one at a time, replacing each toy with a new one once the child shows signs of boredom. Buy a few new inexpensive toys that they are not used to.
To cut down on fights over sharing, make sure each child has their own stach of toys. For older children make up their own little box or packet with a few crayons, notebook, small toys, sweets, a packet of chips and juice.
Pack a picnic lunch.
Toddlers and young children are notoriously fussy eaters: travelling to unfamiliar places with new foods and different mealtime routines can further disrupt your child's eating habits. Suggestions include: Relax and remember that a healthy child will never voluntarily starve themselves. Trust them to eat when they're hungry.
If flying, arrange in advance for children's meals.
Try to keep a familiar mealtime routine, such as having breakfast the usual way.
Don't assume you'll always find something they'll like on a restaurant menu. Carry plenty of their favourite snacks and drinks when on holiday.
Ring ahead and see if the restaurant you're planning to visit has a children's menu.
"Are we there yet?"
Anyone who has ever travelled with kids under the age of 20 has probably heard that refrain at least once - or maybe 100 times. You may as well get used to it as it's all part of the holiday experience.