The thought of flying with children is one of the biggest sources of worry for travelling parents. The idea of hurling around heavy suitcases, running to the gate to board a flight, and being crammed for hours on an aircraft is enough without having to deal with children.
We all have stared in pity at that dishevelled mother at the end of her wits trying to shepherd her energetic kids at the airport. However, travel with the kids on a family vacation does not have to be a chore. No matter their ages, you can carve out an enjoyable and structured vacation if you plan well. Here is how you can manage when you travel with your kids.
The more time, the merrier
I’m sure you’re used to last minute preparations and airport processing when you’re alone. It doesn’t work with kids. Getting a toddler from point A to B requires extra time. You simply cannot hurry a child as they are oblivious to the urgency of time as we are.
If you want to be cool throughout the checking in process and the rest of airport protocol, get there early. Have plenty of time set aside for tantrums, attempted escapes and unplanned bathroom visits.
Depending on where you will be staying on your vacation, have it sorted out early. Chances are dealing with your young ones during the flight and airport transfer would have left you frazzled. Don’t add to it by not having confirmed accommodation when you finally land.
Invest in a child tracker
Children almost always get lost and most parents don’t like child leashes. This problem is not beyond the reach of today’s technology. Consider buying small child GPS units that you can attach to a boot strap or their wrist and access through your phone or a handheld unit. These create a geo-fence which warns you when your children wander off too far. This is invaluable at airports or crowded tourist attractions where it is easy for a child to disappear.
Have lots of activities ready for boring time
Children get very cranky and impatient quickly. Have your child’s favourite toys close by in a handheld bag to be handed out when necessary. Tiny colouring books, play-doh and a fully charged tablet loaded with games will do wonders to pass the time and keep your little ones engaged.
Kids love sweets but combining sugar and kids with a travel itinerary is a recipe for chaos. Leave the sweets at home and pack cheese cubes, fruits and sandwiches instead. These are healthier options and lead to fewer toilet breaks.
Have an itinerary
The dynamic of a family vacation is quite different from that of a romantic getaway for a young couple with no children. Structure is important. Plan all the activities so that you wake up each day with a purpose.
This includes meal, outing times and activities. Rent a family car to make getting to and from your hotel easy. Also, tickets for shows, theme parks and tours should all be booked in advance. You don’t have to stick to the plan to the letter but you will have a great vacation when you have a handle on important things.
Final word on travelling with children
Be positive! Going on vacation with your kids is one of best ways to build a foundation of trust and unity in the family. It is also a prefect opportunity for family members to know each other outside of your hectic daily routine.
Praise your children’s efforts when on vacation and don’t force them to do activities just because it’s been paid for. You can even give them a child-friendly camera and help them take pictures of their favourite things. The memories that you create will be the glue that will keep your family unit strong through the years.