Travelling with kids on a family vacation is a great way to bond and grow as a family. Now that summer is approaching and children worldwide can enjoy a time of relaxation school-free, many families decide to embark on a family adventure, and venture out into an unknown location for a much-needed family holiday. Travelling with kids in tow can be a challenging experience, sometimes proving to be even more stressful than everyday life. Yet some of these stresses can be kept at bay with a few simple tricks, ensuring a peaceful and tranquil holiday for both kids and parents. Planning on exploring a new location with your family this summer? Check out our tried and tested tips for a smooth-sailing family vacation!
Rent a Vacation Home
When deciding where to stay on your family trip, it is always best to choose the ideal accommodation for you and your family members. Opting for a vacation home instead of a hotel room works much better for families, providing you with ample space and with a home environment, which helps children adapt to their new accommodation better. Family rooms in hotels tend to feel cramped and claustrophobic, leaving kids annoyed and cranky. Make sure to choose a vacation home to suit your budget and family needs – if you’re planning on exploring for most of your stay, then an apartment would be a great option, whereas if you’re planning on relaxing for most of your holiday, then a vacation villa, complete with pool and various amenities would be the ideal choice.
Keep your kids entertained
This is especially relevant if your kids are still young and get bored easily. Bringing a tablet full of their favourite TV shows and cartoons can be a life-saver when travelling, and make sure to pack your HDMI cable so that you can connect the tablet directly to the TV feed. Downloading some colouring apps or educational games will also keep kids entertained and happy, and you can choose apps depending on your child’s interests. Children, whatever their age, get bored easily, so while the National Museum of Archaeology may seem like a wonderland of artefacts for you, it sounds like the most boring thing ever for your kids. Be prepared and avoid meltdowns with distractions as soon as irritability hits!
Bring ‘rewards’ for those dreaded long transits
Travelling is generally awesome, and a great way to expand your kids’ world-view. However it can also be tiring, especially when long travelling times are involved. Even adults get cantankerous on long-haul flights or coach rides, let alone little ones. There is no sure way to avoid tantrums or melt-downs, and the best way to deal with these outbursts is to go with the flow and not worry too much about them before they actually happen. However it never hurts to be equipped for the worst, and this includes bringing ‘rewards’ such as small toys or colouring books to recompense good behaviour. Kids will be entertained by the novelty of the ‘reward’ for their manners, keeping them busy and happy for more precious travelling time.
Rent whatever equipment you can
When travelling with kids, it is always better to travel as light as you can, thereby avoiding long waits at the luggage retrieval section at the airport, problems with fitting your entire luggage on transport and unnecessary headaches of lost luggage. Whatever equipment you can rent on site, rent it! From strollers, to high chairs and cots, most locations will offer rental options which will save you time and packing space. Vacation rental properties offer high chairs and baby cots on demand as well, meaning less worrying for vacationing parents!
Take it easy – don’t pack too many activities in one day
Travelling alone and travelling as a family have their similarities – yet day planning is not one of them. While it may be tempting to pack as many activities as you can into one day, and while this plan may work when travelling alone, it will generally result in very grumpy and very tired kiddos. While planning day to day vacation activities even when travelling with kids is a smart way to travel, make sure to not over-plan your days, as anything and everything may happen when vacationing with kids in tow. Keep your days light, plan one or two activities per day, and take it from there. If your kids are feeling up to it and still have high energy levels then wing it and decide on a new activity there and then. You’ll be thankful for not over-stuffing your days after a tired kid’s meltdown at the end of a tour.
Packing list – write everything down
By now most travellers swear by the packing list – you can start compiling this list as early as you wish, adding essential things to pack as you remember them. The list becomes even more vital when travelling as a family, where each family member has their own indispensable items to bring on holiday. You can involve older kids in the packing fun by giving them their own list to compile, thereby ensuring that they bring their favourite items along too. Younger kids can be given a pictographic list of important items to pack, transforming packing their bag into a little game. Also, give each child their own personal bag – younger children will feel more responsible and grown-up carrying their very own luggage!
Buy disposable items when you arrive
While we do encourage that you pack some disposable items (such as nappies and wet wipes) for your trip, don’t stuff your bags with them. Chances are you’ll be able to buy these items from the local supermarket wherever you’re visiting, often finding the same brands you find at home. Pack a few nappies and wet wipes to last your journey, then head to the local supermarket or pharmacy and buy these items on arrival. You’ll save up so much luggage space using this method - meaning you’ll have more room for items which are truly indispensable for your trip.