The date is marked on the calendar in permanent marker. You’re one week away from your family vacation or family road trip. What do you need to know when it comes to travelling with your kids?
You’ve probably gone on plenty of pre-children trips to see family, explore the country, or travel abroad to immerse yourself in other cultures. But if you haven’t travelled much with your little ones or your last trip was a disaster, we’re here for you!
If you were a travel junkie before starting your family, there’s no reason to give up the habit and feel tethered to your town. In fact, kids should motivate you to get out there and enjoy life to its fullest.
As the time approaches for you to book the flight, pack the bags, and hit the road (or air!), we’ve come up with nine straightforward tips to keep your travel less chaotic, less stressful, and more fun with your whole family!
Hire a Travel Nanny
When you’re travelling with kids, it can feel like the stress and complications multiply. That’s normal. One way to reduce the stress and provide you with the extra hands, eyes and feet you need to keep up with the little ones is to bring your nanny or babysitter or hire a travel nanny for your trip.
You should expect to pay a travel nanny from $60 per day to $400 per day. Nanny rates range dramatically based on experience, number of kids, length and destination of your trip, and when your nanny will be on-call. You can make your life easier by using a nanny tax guide or service when it comes to your nanny’s payroll.
If you don’t want to spring for a professional nanny, you may be able to ask a relative like your niece or a family friend to come along.
Velcro Shoes, All Day, Every Day
Carrying your kids can do a number on your back. Bending down to tie their shoes can also get very old, very quickly, too. If you have little ones that struggle to tie their shoes or are just too young to do it themselves–don’t pack laced shoes. Opt for velcro or ballet flats. Make sure your kids’ shoes are comfortable, too.
If you’re rushing through the airport or using a public restroom, the last thing you want to have to do is stoop over and tie laces that are probably covered in germs.
Stick to Your Packing List
I cannot stress the importance of a packing list enough. A packing list helps you stay on track when minor distractions arise, and it keeps you aware of what you need to bring for each activity (and what you can leave behind).
If your kids are old enough to carry their own bags, make sure you pack their bags light enough that they won’t want to ditch them ten minutes into the airport or while waiting to check into the hotel. If you’re not sure if your kid can keep up with their bag, you’re better off packing their stuff into your suitcase.
To create a useful packing list, write down each activity you plan on doing and the range of weather in your destination. Then list the items you’ll need for each day and your toiletries. Do yourself a favour and pack as little as possible – there’s nothing more frustrating than picking up a kid and having a 50-pound bag choke you as you bend over.
Prepare for Mishaps
This one may seem obvious, but you rather have everything you need if something goes wrong than be put into a risky situation that may make you miss your flight or put you and your family in danger.
Some common mishaps to prepare for when you’re planning a family vacation include:
Missing your flight or flight cancellation: prepare by packing plenty of activities to keep the kids busy, check your flight (and check-in) before leaving your house, arrive at the airport super early.
You or the kids becoming ill: bring Pepto, drink bottled water, use hand sanitizer as often as you think to, take vitamins the week approaching the trip, go to bed early on your trip.
Thunderstorms and other bad weather: pack some rain gear, check the weather the week approaching your trip, bring hotel activities and find a movie theatre near your hotel.
Losing your wallet: hide cash in your suitcase and keep some on you, too, make copies of all your identification, and don’t carry your wallet where a pickpocket can access it.
Getting lost: if you’re travelling abroad, always bring a map and your hotel address written on a piece of paper, stay calm, and take a moment to recompose yourself if you’re stressing out.
Make the Trip Educational and Fun!
One of the easiest ways to make any trip a success is to make it enjoyable for everyone in the family. This may mean that you take the kids’ tour of the art museum instead of the extended adult tour. Travel is an excellent way to teach your kids about other cultures and expose them to art, but they’ll only embrace these if they’re on-board with the activity. Often, if kids see an adult excited about an activity it increases their buy-in, so make sure you stay positive and explain to your kids what the outing is and why you’re excited about it.
Part of having fun is taking your time. Try not to squeeze in too many activities into a day, and if your children are absolutely loving the aquarium, don’t cut the experience short to run to the next plan. Don’t be afraid to cancel some plans.
While some activities like going to a butterfly garden may not seem that educational, your kids will surely learn about the world and about themselves. Trust them to form memories and judgments without having to emphasize or test them during and after a fun activity.
Bringing the kids along on your adventure can bring depth to your trips and foster fond and lasting memories for children. So, check out the latest travel deals and family destinations. Pack your bags, prepare for some fun, and go, go, go.