Travelling with your kids can be a whole lot of fun or it could go so horribly wrong that you’ll need another holiday to recover from the first one. But before anything can go wrong, here’s what you can do to prepare for a holiday.
WORDS MELISSA ESPECKERMAN
Woohoo! The school holidays are here again and it’s time for yet another family trip! But if you’re still reeling from the horrors of the last family trip and are still undecided if you would like to attempt another holiday, there’s hope. Read what tips and tricks we’ve got up our sleeves to make that family holiday one for the memory book.
Don't Leave Home Without it
If you thought packing for a day out is a lot, imagine how much packing for a trip entails. We’re talking about days away from home without your usual comforts. So start planning now! Besides the usual diapers and formulas, bring your little one’s favourite blanket and pillow. Also, don’t forget their sleeping buddy. That would make adapting to a new environment a whole lot easier.
Depending on where you’re going, it might be a good idea to buy diapers and formula when you reach your destination. If it’s easily available that is. And of course, it’s always necessary to prepare for the unexpected with a mini first aid kit. Include prescription and non-prescription medication routinely taken by each family member, antibacterial gel and wipes and adhesive bandages amongst others.
Is it Family Friendly?
Imagine reaching your destination only to find out the hotel does not provide some of the essentials such as a cot or high chair for your child. Or gasp…no sterilising facilities! So check and double check what’s available.
If you’re travelling with older children, having the option of interconnecting rooms might just give your husband and you the privacy that you need. Of course an added bonus would be a hotel with a kids club or babysitting facilities to allow you some time out. Even a baby pool would be great as your bub won’t be left out from splashing around.
Get Your Travel Shots
Make sure you get the relevant vaccines of the country you are travelling to. As some vaccinations may require several shots given over many months, get them well before you leave for your holiday. It is a good idea to inform your child’s paediatrician of your travel plans as soon as you finalise them.
Know Your Duties
Packing, planning, booking…it’s a pain but someone’s got to do it and while it may be tempting to split the burden, don’t. When one person packs, that person knows where everything is. Share the packing and you might end up not knowing where things are kept. The same works for booking your tickets or accommodation.
On a Roll
When deciding what to pack, consider if your stroller will be included in your list. Keep your destination in mind and decide if a stroller would be more of a hassle than help. After all, you wouldn’t want to be pushing a stroller over meandering cobbled stoned pathways. However, if you need to bring one along, consider one that’s lightweight yet stable and can be easily folded. Do remember, depending on which airline you’re travelling on, strollers need to be checked in at the counter or the gate just before you board the plane.
Prepare for Take-off
The one thing you shouldn’t board a plane without is formula or breastmilk if you’re feeding from the bottle. Ensure you have more than enough for the flight as you’ll never know when delays could occur. Make sure to check with the airline if kids’ meals are available and to make any requests for special dietary requirements if needed. And if you’re travelling with a baby, request for a bassinet when you make your booking as they are limited.
You might want to prepare some inflight entertainment for the long trip ahead. Puzzles, colouring books and other activity sets are some great ways to ensure your little one is kept occupied without being glued to the on-board TV. Or maybe you could try a game of ‘who can keep quiet the longest?’!
What's in Your Carry-on?
While you might not want to lug around a carry-on that’s filled to the brim, when you’re travelling with kids it’s always a good idea to pack in a few extra necessities. You don’t want to find yourself in a foreign land with nothing but the clothes on your back should your bags get lost. Pack in some extra diapers and clothes to avoid the hassle of hunting them down.
One Final Check
The most stressful time of any trip is probably when you’re preparing to leave for the airport. So to avoid leaving anything or for some…anyone behind, it might be useful to make an out-the-door list. Include the things that you can only pack or grab just before you step out of the house. This could include sweaters, snacks, wallets and phones. Plus don’t forget to double-check if you’ve got your passports and foreign currency as well.
Just Before You Visit
Another useful tip is to check the websites of the attractions that you are planning to visit just before heading there as you’ll never know if there’s been a disruption in their usual schedule. Museums often close their exhibitions for maintenance or for visiting shows. Turning up at an attraction only to find out that it is under renovation is never ever fun!
Before you head out for the day, plan where you’re going and what you’re going to do. While nothing has to be cast in stone, at least it doesn’t leave you at a lost wondering what to do next and it gives the kids something to look forward to. However, travelling with children is often filled with the unexpected so be prepared to make room for changes.