Tips for traveling with small kids
Travelling is always a great way to de-stress and connect with your family. A highlight of childhood memories says James F. Petrick and Angela M. Durko, both from Texas A&M University, includes the family vacation. In a literature review, the two researchers found that travel improves communications within a relationship, reduces the possibility of divorce, strengthens lifelong family bonds and increases a sense of well-being in adults and children.
“Travel is a fabulous way to develop your family’s unique set of shared values. As you explore other cultures and compare them to home, you will learn more about yourselves and each other. Insights and ideas will emerge in a multitude of ways: conversations in the café, people-watching on the train and writing in journals. Maybe your family will find a new holiday or family tradition to share for years to come,” write the authors of Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids.
Having said that, traveling with small children can be a bit of a hassle, especially if it is a long flight or bus ride. Here’s what to keep in mind to make it an amazing adventure.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The reason experts recommend planning, despite it sounding like an old, tired advice, is because it works! Choose a destination well in advance, and if possible, involve the children. The shared anticipation will make it even more fun. Make a list of everything you need for the trip. “If you’re planning a long-haul journey to somewhere unfamiliar, allow for a few months to get organised; shorter holidays to places you know, or conventional ‘tourist’ destinations are simpler to prepare for, but you should still give yourself plenty of time,” says Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco in The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies & Young Children.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. In Lonely Planet’s travel guide called Travel with Children: The Essential Guide for Travelling Families, you’re advised to check that your child’s vaccinations are up to date and whether any others are necessary for your journey. Do this two months before your travel date. “Paediatricians or travel clinic specialists will know the best way to protect your child in a particular region and season,” reads the guide.
Take Another Adult Along
Extra help from an adult you trust will take some of the pressure off and let you enjoy the trip as well. If you’re worn out, the whole purpose of the trip will be lost. Besides, a tired, grumpy parent makes for tired, grumpy kids.
If it is a long flight or bus ride, makes sure you have things that will keep the children entertained and occupied. Pack some colouring books and toys, for example. Instead of packing a toy that they’ve played with for years, bring something new. The novelty of it will keep them occupied more.