How to travel stress-free with kids
Travelling with kids can be a wonderful adventure, and with the right preparation and mindset, it can be a stress-free and enjoyable journey for the entire family.
The thrill of creating lovely family memories and showing children new places is often accompanied by the worry of potential tantrums, restlessness and meltdowns. Whether you’re taking to the skies or hitting the road, with careful planning and some useful tips and tricks, you can turn your family trip into a stress-free and enjoyable adventure. Here are our best pearls of wisdom for ensuring a smooth journey with your little ones in tow.
One of the key factors in having a stress-free trip with kids is thorough planning. Begin by selecting any available extra travel options that cater to families. This might be a fast track or family lane through the airport, an attendant to help you carry your stroller or travel cot onto the plane, or simply an extra suitcase to transport everything you might need.
It can also be beneficial to research local attractions and activities suitable for children along the way to keep them engaged and entertained throughout the journey if travelling by car or train. Letting kids burn off steam outside the car or plane will make the travel time more bearable, whilst planning a stop at an attraction or a meal on the way to your ultimate destination can break up the monotony of travel for little ones.
Packing efficiently is important when travelling with kids. Remembering to pack practical items, such as extra sets of clothing, diapers, wipes, eye masks and snacks can make all the difference. Of course, don’t forget about your child’s favourite toys, books or gadgets to keep them entertained during the journey. Packing light is ideal in most situations, but when you have kids with you it’s much wiser to ensure you have all the essentials to avoid unnecessary stress during your trip.
CHOOSE CHILD-FRIENDLY TRANSPORT
If you’re planning to travel long distances, consider how child-friendly the transport is. Trains and buses with spacious seating and legroom can provide your children with the freedom to move around during the journey. Alternatively, some airlines offer amenities tailored for families, such as pre-boarding and child-friendly meals. Opting for these services can make the trip more comfortable for both you and your kids, cutting down on travel stress.
KEEP SNACKS HANDY
Hungry kids can quickly become cranky kids. To avoid issues in this department, it’s wise to carry a variety of snacks that your children enjoy, which will keep their hunger at bay and keep them content during the trip. Consider packing a mix of healthy options, such as cut up fruits, trail mix, granola bars or whole-grain crackers, as well as some occasional treats to make the journey more enjoyable. However, healthy options are better choices, as they provide sustained energy without causing sugar spikes. They also avoid the potential behavioural issues that are more likely to happen when kids experience a sugar crash some time after eating treats.
Having enough snacks on hand can save you from stressful last-minute searches for food options and can prevent any hunger-induced meltdowns along the way. Having familiar snacks from home can also be really helpful for children in unfamiliar destinations where the plane food might not be as appealing to young taste buds.
While planning your trip, it’s smart to create a flexible itinerary. Kids can be unpredictable, and their moods might change throughout the day. Allow for some downtime and flexibility in your schedule to accommodate unexpected detours or spontaneous activities that capture your children’s interests. This approach will help maintain a more relaxed atmosphere on holiday and reduce the pressure to stick to a rigid schedule.
Involving your children in the travel planning can create a real sense of excitement and ownership. By letting little ones contribute their ideas for activities to do while travelling or destinations they’d like to visit when they arrive, kids will feel more invested in the journey as a whole, and are more likely to remain cooperative during the trip.
EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY WISELY
While excessive screen time isn’t ideal, electronic gadgets can be a lifesaver during long flights or road trips. Load up tablets or smartphones with educational games, movies or interactive books to keep kids entertained. Additionally, technology can help you find kid-friendly restaurants, attractions and emergency services in unfamiliar locations if you’re travelling by car.
PREPARE FOR JET LAG
If your trip involves crossing time zones, be prepared for jet lag. It can be helpful to adjust your children’s sleep schedule gradually in the days leading up to your holiday and also to encourage them to stay hydrated during the flight. Once you arrive at your destination, spending time outdoors will help reset kids’ internal clocks so they get used to the new time zone faster.
ADD EXTRA TIME
Travelling with kids often means that things take longer than they would otherwise. From bathroom breaks, to getting everyone ready in the morning, it’s vital to factor in extra time for each activity. Whether you’re heading to the airport, train station or embarking on a road trip, leaving earlier than usual will help you manage unexpected delays without feeling rushed. This additional buffer time leads to a smoother start to your journey and minimises stress for the whole family.
Airports can be overwhelming for both children and parents alike. To ease the stress of navigating busy terminals, make sure you have all necessary travel documents, tickets and identification on hand, readily accessible in a well-organised travel wallet. Before reaching the airport, it’s best to explain the security procedures to your children to prepare them for the screening process and use family lanes at security checkpoints, where available, to streamline the process. Lastly, consider packing an extra change of clothes in your carry-on in case of spills or accidents during the journey.
Long journeys can be hard for children, so keeping them entertained is key to avoiding restlessness and boredom. Aim to prepare an entertainment kit beforehand that includes colouring books, crayons, interactive games and puzzles. Audiobooks and kid-friendly podcasts can also be a great way to keep children engaged while travelling. Depending on the mode of transportation, you might also want to create travel-themed scavenger hunts or play interactive games to pass the time.
Keeping your children comfortable during the journey will contribute to a more relaxed travel experience for everyone. Travel pillows and blankets can help little ones nap during long flights or car rides, and eye masks can help block out light to help this process along. Dressing children in comfortable clothes, suitable for varying temperatures, is important as aeroplanes and vehicles can get chilly. If your journey involves a long-haul flight, consider packing noise-cancelling headphones as well to minimise disruptions and help your kids get some rest.
Travelling with kids can be an exciting, but daunting prospect. Remember to plan ahead, pack wisely, and be prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise – patience and adaptability will be key. With these tips, you can embrace the adventure with less worry, allowing you to share the joy of a family holiday with your little explorers, free of any preventable stress and hassle.