Don’t get anxious just thinking about that trip you’ve been putting off. If planned well, vacationing with young kids need not be stressful. Here are some essential tips on how to go on a fun family vacation and not lose your mind.
Life as you know it changes when you have kids. The algorithm changes, priorities change, routines change. If you were a travel junkie in the pre-kids era, you are hit the hardest.
In most cases, vacations don’t feel like one if you’re travelling with young children. Many parents come back exhausted from their vacation. A few parents, at least, need another vacation (without kids, of course) to cool off.
While it is unthinkable, some parents consider writing off away-time until the kids are old enough. Before you do that, give us a chance to change your mind. In this article, you will read about the essentials you need to carry (to put your child and you at ease) and some tips for a realistic, bearable trip.
Plan in Advance
There are a few things to consider before you just up and leave with the kids. While you may not have put a lot of thought into your travels earlier, you can’t do that anymore. You are a parent, you’ve got ‘sponsibilities now. One of those is to try to not make spontaneous travel plans when young kids are involved. It doesn’t bode well all the time.
When you plan a vacation, ask yourself these questions:
Will your child enjoy the place you have decided upon? Does this place have good connectivity, in terms of phone network and transport? In case of medical emergencies, how far would you have to travel to get to the nearest medical centre?
Try not to pick places that are off the radar.
Is it going to be too hot? Or too cold? How will your child handle the weather? Would you be able to get some essentials at the destination? For instance, will hot water be readily available if the mercury is expected to dip?
How are you going to get there? If you are planning to go to multiple places in the area, will transportation be available from each site?
Where will you be staying? Is the resort or homestay child-friendly? Do they have child-friendly amenities?
Choose all-inclusive resorts, homestays, or Airbnbs.
If you are an avid traveller, you would know to pack light. But that’s not the case with kids. It is always better to be over prepared than under.
At least a week before the trip, make a list of the items you will be carrying. Google Keep or the notepad application on your phone work best for this.
Here are some tips on the essentials you need to carry:
- Store your child’s toiletries in a durable pouch. That way, they are easily accessible.
- Carry plenty of snacks. Here’s what we love to carry: a few fruits that don’t perish easily (for example, apples and pears), organic lollipops, Yumearth's fruit snacks, fruit pouches, and crackers.
- You will need a snack box of trail mix for yourself for those instant bursts of energy during the day.
- Pack a vacuum-insulated bottle for ready hot or cold water.
- Young children need comfort and familiarity; this doesn’t change even when they are on vacation. Therefore, always carry their sleep bag or snug blanket for a good night’s sleep.
- Carry entertainment for your child. This is helpful especially when you run into unforeseen delays or inevitable hiccups. Our fun essentials comprise activity books, crayons, a colour pencil set, a sketch book, age-appropriate books to read, and a new toy.
- You need a backpack to store the fun essentials. One way to ensure your child fully enjoys the contents is to keep the backpack hidden until it is time to take them out. Kids love surprises.
- Pack an effective sunscreen for kids. Sebamed and Cetaphil Sun Kids work best on sensitive skin; we also love popular brands such as Babyganics and Banana Boat.
- Carry three to four extra pairs of clothing for young children.
- Bring a set of headphones for when your child is watching their favourite show on the phone or tablet. You’ll thank us when you want to relax in your hotel room without nursery rhymes blaring in the background.
While you can procrastinate your packing for the eleventh hour, always pack your child’s luggage well ahead of time.
Travel With No Expectations
The journey is the scariest aspect of a vacation for parents of young children. Be it a road trip, a short flight, or a long-haul flight, the key is to be prepared.
Presume that eventualities are a routine when travelling with kids and prepare accordingly.
- Make sure your kids are buckled up properly in their car seats before starting the journey. While it isn’t mandatory to install a car seat in India, it is always advisable.
- If you are travelling by road, pack more than what you actually need. This is especially true for snacks and games. It would make a huge difference if you pack your child’s favourites. If they love chicken nuggets, this trip needs it!
- If your child is prone to developing car sickness, speak to the paediatrician ahead of time. If required, carry the necessary medication.
- Start your travel at dawn if you have to cover long hours on the road. With the kids still sleeping at the start of the journey, you can enjoy the otherwise rare quiet time.
- For long distance trips, plan regular stops for pee breaks and quick naps.
- Try to get to your destination or pitstop before the sun goes down.
Short and long-haul flights
Keep your child as comfortable as possible; don’t wait for them to throw a tantrum.
- While domestic flights in India don’t let you carry a car seat/carry cot for your child, some international flights do. Look up your airline’s instructions about these prior to your travel.
- If you have to cover a long distance, try to book an overnight train.
- Comfort trumps cost. If you can, go for a cabin coupe, or first or second AC seats when travelling with kids.
- Carry plenty of water.
- Disinfecting wipes and sanitisers are your best friends. So pack them in a bag where you can access them easily and use them generously.
Vacation Like No Other
Yes, vacationing with kids isn’t easy. But you’ve got till this point. Now is the time to relax and enjoy.
Here are some tips to help you do this while still considering your child’s needs first:
- Relax some rules. Your child is also on vacation. It is alright to have a later bedtime if your child is up for it. Same goes for late mornings.
- Even if your child woke up late or went to bed late, make it a point to maintain their nap times during the day as done at home. If your child is having a good time, it might be difficult to wind them down for naps. White noise and their sleep bag may help them settle. If you are outside during their naptime, lay them down for a nap in their stroller or anywhere safe and comfortable.
- If your room has only one bed for the entire family, ask the hotel staff for an extra bed. This would help your child sleep better.
- Always apply sunscreen when you are getting out of the hotel. Sunburns aren’t all too pleasant.
- Make realistic plans. Don’t plan a whole day of walking; your child won’t enjoy it. As a result, you may have a cranky child.
- If your hotel has different activities arranged at the property, explore them.
- If your child is napping or engaged in independent play, take turns with your partner to go for a spa session or a swim in the beach/pool. Some alone time is essential.
- Always keep a snack prepared in your bag. This helps prevent a tantrum before it even manifests.
- When eating at the restaurant, remember to carry backup food (for example, fruit pouches or fruits) if your child doesn’t enjoy the food that is served.
Having a good time with kids usually doesn’t take extra effort. Like your kids won’t remember the stressful moments of the trip the minute they see something exciting, you shouldn’t linger on them either.
Take a gazillion photos of excited, happy faces that you can cherish in the future. Make happy memories with your littles who won’t stay that way for long. These memories make up a childhood.
If you can give your child a happy childhood, you’ve done your parenting part right. Godspeed!