There’s something about traveling with children that has the ability to strike both fear and excitement into the hearts of parents everywhere; while the idea of taking your family on vacation may be one that keeps you going through the long weeks leading up to your break, it’s also likely to be the one that keeps you awake at night. Just what were you thinking when you suggested boarding a plane with a teething baby and a toddler? Is that road trip really such a great idea when you have two children under five to entertain? Planning a family vacation can seem like a daunting and endless task, but it really needn’t be. Heed the following tips and enjoy a family getaway free from anxiety and the usual issues that you’ve perhaps become accustomed to – or have been dreading.
Consider your destination
Perhaps the simplest thing that you can do at this stage is to choose your destination carefully; just how adventurous are you feeling? While you may have always fancied visiting a particular location, you must consider how family-friendly that place is. Are there plenty of things to see and do? Will your children be catered for? What kind of journey can you expect? There is no point making your lives any more difficult than they need to be, after all. Choose a vacation that’s going to appeal to everyone, and offer a variety of activities that will captivate and entertain each member of your family.
Give yourselves plenty of time
As with all activities undertaken with children, it’s essential to leave yourself plenty of time to complete every stage of your adventure, whether you’re packing, loading the car, traveling to the departure gate, or heading out on an excursion. There’s nothing worse than having to rush a stressed or disorientated toddler, and you’ll only add to your anxiety if you expect them to keep up. Create an itinerary for your trip, starting a couple of days before you’re due to travel and finishing on your return trip. What tasks have you got to complete? Where must you be, and when? Traveling with a toddler is often unpredictable, but it’s essential to have an idea of the places that you must be, and when – for your peace of mind, if nothing else.
Prepare for every eventuality
If you’ve ever traveled with children, you’ll know that things don’t always go to plan. If you’ve never traveled with children, be aware that you’re likely to be thrown at least one curveball during your time away from home. Children are unpredictable by nature, and all you can do is prepare for every eventuality. Do you have a reliable route planner featuring service stations and stops that you could make use of in an emergency? Have you packed sufficient clothing, accessories, and gadgets to see you through? Sometimes, the best defense a parent has is acceptance, so enjoy the ride and try not to worry if your plans begin to go awry.
As well as the usual clothing and accessories, documentation, and medical paraphernalia, you’re going to need to arm yourselves for success; whether you’re flying, sailing, or taking the train or car, it’s essential that you pack wisely, ensuring that children are entertained and comfortable for the duration of your travels. Car journeys can be made easier with backseat organizers and activity tables, while plane journeys will fly by (literally) if you’re armed with coloring books, stickers, and a favorite toy or two. Think about the space you’ll have to occupy, and the time you’ll be cooped up. Are there certain items, such as diapers and wipes, you could buy in bulk once you reach your destination? A diaper changing station is going to be useful during any journey, enabling your baby to change anywhere you happen to be.
Feed and water the troops
One of the biggest causes of frayed nerves and lost tempers is hunger – followed closely by thirst. Traveling can be stressful at the best of times, least of all when you’ve had to manage several hours without anything to eat or drink because you’ve forgotten to take stopovers into consideration. Play it safe and pack your own snacks, ensuring that each member of your family remains suitably sustained. If you’re traveling with an infant, make sure that you’re prepared with bottles, formula, and a means of mixing bottles, or a cushion to aid your comfort during breastfeeding. For older children and adults, bring individually wrapped snacks and secure bottles of drink, choosing high-energy items that will provide the most nutritional value. If you’re flying, familiarize yourself with carry-on laws.
Traveling with your family needn’t be difficult, or particularly stressful, if you’re able to arm yourself with the right ingredients for a successful trip. Create plans, prepare to break your schedule, and bring enough entertainment and refreshments for everyone; only then are you really ready to enjoy yourselves.