Holidays with children are full of excitement, but if you haven’t travelled with your children before it is natural to have worries and to be apprehensive before you leave. You needn’t let these worries spoil your trip or worse still stop you from travelling at all.
These are our top tips for stress free travel with kids
Control (and likely lower) your expectations.
You won’t be able to cram as much into a day as you did before you travelled with children, there will be plenty of extra toilet stops, snack breaks and a considerably slow walking pace. Lower your expectations to match what you know is realistic and you will reduce the pressure, book an extra night or two compared to days gone by and embrace the slower pace.
Be prepared for minor ailments and insects
Be prepared before you leave with Medication for common ailments and insect repellents, queuing in chemists and trying to translate can be a frustrating affair. Check before you travel what medication you can take with you abroad though, so you don’t get caught up in customs. Take a mosquito net for your stroller if you are taking one and be sure to test your suncream before travel incase of any allergies – we’ve been caught out with that before!
Be realistic about activities and timings
If you want to visit historic monuments or tourist attractions, go early or late to avoid the heat and crowds. Also consider the accessibility, many ruins such as Tulum in Mexico are hard going with a stroller so you may want to carry your child, this in its self can be tricky in the heat and if nap time is a consideration can soon become very tiring for you both.
Make the most of jet lag
Take advantage of early starts and late nights, and try not to worry about the loss of routine. We had an amazing experience with our children who woke at around 5.30am for the first few mornings in Mexico, so we embraced it. We all left the hotel room early, and took to a walk of the resort – enjoying it completely alone. We saw Coati, Agouti, raccoons and a whole range of stunning birds which were to private to come out once the crowds had arrived around 8.00am. On the flip slide, thanks to the early start, our son fell asleep in his pizza that night – leaving us to have a quiet drink together whilst they slept in their stroller. If you are still concerned about how jet lag will affect children, our article on how to help children with jet lag may help.
Take your own car seat
I realise there have been a lot of seat regulation changes in the UK so whilst I can not recommend a car seat, I can tell you our own choice – for travel now with two slightly older children we can’t get enough of the Trunki Backpack. It allows the children to pack and carry their own hand luggage, and transforms into a booster seat when we need it. Car hire companies are generally not great at supplying car seats and my experience of tour operators dealing with this has too been pretty dreadful. When the children were younger we took a cheaper version of our own three point harness car seat and attached it to a pull-along trolley. It provided an ideal seat for our children to sit it through the airport, was sent as one piece through check in and guaranteed us a safe solution on arrival.
You still have parenting responsibilities, and that’s fine.
Don’t expect a trip with your children to be the same relaxing affair you enjoyed as a couple or single traveller. It won’t be.
Regardless of where you are in the world you still have the same mundane parent jobs to do….chief entertaining, bottle washing, face wiping, bum changing, argument diffusing parenting doesn’t go away – but it needn’t be more stressful than it is day to Day. You are in another country, at a different pace of life – relax and your children (and self) will thank you for it.
Enjoy the little things
We recently spent the day exploring the ramparts of a historic castle in France, I thought the children would be taken with the archers windows and the scale of the battlements. In reality they marched around the top of the castle most interested in their own shadows and the odd lizard that crossed their path. You can’t force them to absorb history or learn facts, but you can take the time to appreciate the little things that your children will point out to you during your travels that would have otherwise passed you by if you were instead following a jam packed schedule.
Things go wrong, but that’s ok
Sometimes things go awry, and that can be something that puts parents off travelling with children. Children do get sick and yes they may be at a higher risk when abroad, but who hasn’t had a sickness bug following a normal day in nursery, a soft play party or a dodgy bbq? Sickness happens, that’s life. If it does you deal with it, but you can’t let the fear of the “what ifs” stop you from the experience of a lifetime. Be sensible and make sure your child is covered with all recommended immunisations, ensure you follow basic rules when it’s comes to food hygiene abroad, indulge in plenty of hand washing and if it does happen, the chances are it will be over in 24 hours.