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Traveling with children

Going on vacation with your children can be a joyous event; splashing around in the pool, sandcastles on the beach, ice-creams in the sun… Traveling with children, however, can be a logistical and entertaining “challenge” full of stress, bad tempers, boredom and frustrations if not planned well.

When vacationing with the kids, it's essential to pack as lightly as possible. This way you'll have spare hands to carry the suitcases, push the buggy and hold a hand or 2.

Take clothing that is easy to wash and doesn't get too creased. If you're going somewhere with washing facilities, that's great - you can keep your packing to a minimum. If not, it's always worth taking some hand wash with you just in case.

As any seasoned traveler with children will tell you it's also vital to make sure you pack various items to entertain the children whilst in transit. Include:

  • small toys
  • books and puzzles
  • electronic games and an ipad full of their favorites – this may be annoying for adults, but can keep the children occupied for hours
  • cards
  • crayons and paper

It’s also a good idea to have a number of new toys; wrap them up and “present” at intervals throughout the journey; Children love new presents and the novelty of something new.

Also if your child has a favorite toy or blanket, this can be a massive comforter and settle them on flights (it can also be a disaster if you forget).

Try to have realistic expectations about travel with children - it's going to be a bit more stressful than it was when it was just the two of you and there will be lots of things you'll have to compromise on.

Involve your child in the vacation planning process and let them make decisions about what they want to do and where they want to go. Trawling around a museum may not be their idea of fun, but running around the beach or a day at the waterpark may be! Get the children involved in learning new cultures and languages – a polite “yes please” or “no thank you” goes a long way and often creates a smile and interaction with the locals. Kids don’t have many barriers!

Vacation scrap-books are also a fun way of keeping interest alive – tickets, postcards, shells from the beach – these are all fun items to collect and collate when you get back home. Remember, children love to show others their keepsakes and vacation memories.

If you’re flying with children, think “safety in numbers”. It may be worth sitting next to others with children, so they can make friends and share toys. Take some snacks and drinks (keep rehydrated), because you can never guarantee how long you’ll be hanging around at the airport. Unfortunately, you’re powerless to do anything about flight delays – they do happen, but the trick is to be prepared. Take plenty of snacks and toys in your hand luggage. If you’re traveling with a small baby, then stock-up on nappies, wipes and bottles.

It’s also worth taking a lollypop or a few sweets to suck on to assist with ear popping and distraction and remember warm clothes for the plane. It can get quite chilly.

If you’re organized and have the necessary distractions (or grandparents!), traveling with children can be a wondrous adventure.

Tara, mum – experienced traveler with Isla 3 ½ years old.

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