Try these tips for traveling with children to make a family vacation more fun for everyone, including parents. HomeExchange.com is a stress-free way to travel, but it still offers that magical shift in perspective that only getting out of your own routine and culture can offer.
Photo: Katsuhito Nojiri via flickr
Packing for travel with children doesn’t need to be as overwhelming as it might initially seem. And yes, it’s possible to travel light, with simplicity and minimalism in mind, even with young and/or multiple children. In our family, we’ve found it helpful to limit ourselves to packing a week’s worth of clothing, regardless of whether our trip is 7 days or 27 days. (Traveling across climates may require extra.) Packing cubes are a great way to keep the packing organized by individual, and the cubes also serve as portable luggage for each person upon arrival. We use one cube per child (and adults, too), and use smaller bags to separate shoes or other items inside the packing cube. (For our babies we use an extra cube for diapers, making it possible to travel using cloth diapers exclusively.) Upon arrival, our kids can open their packing cubes and place them inside a dresser or on counters. While we limit clothing, we do make sure that at least one of the outfits packed is fine to get dirty. We also try to make clothing interchangeable. We opt for baby carriers over strollers (with rare exceptions), also in keeping with traveling light.
By: Keren Threlfall, of kerenthrelfall.com
Photo: Giacomo Petronio via Flickr
Take a lightweight foldaway stroller for use in the terminal, but have the children walk (if able) as much as possible. Use the stroller for hand luggage. Take more nappies/clothes/wipes etc than you think you’ll need. Pack them in individual ziplock bags containing 1 x nappy, wipes, and a change of clothes per bag. Find a quiet spot in the terminal and let the kids make noise. Lead them in some exercises – jumping jacks, stretches etc, to help them burn energy. Attach a name tag to your child in a somewhat disguised place (not obvious enough that a stranger could call their name). Take a photo of your children in the clothes they are travelling in to assist if they wander off. Once through security, buy enough water for all of you for the duration of the flight.
By: Michelle Shearer, Founder and Editor of MamaBake
Photo: Leo Hidalgo via Flickr
When talking to new parents, flying with a baby or toddler tops the list of travel worries. A big fear is, “What if everyone on the airplane hates me?” Come prepared with lots of toys and snacks and more diapers than you ever think you’ll need. Focus on your child and forget the haters. You will likely not have time to do anything but tend to your child while in the air (bye-bye inflight movie and magazines!). Instead of looking at this as a burden, think of your flight as an opportunity to spend quality time with your child away from the distractions of everyday life. And if that doesn’t work, repeat this mantra over and over (in your head), “This too shall pass!” It’s hard to narrow down my best tips for traveling with kids into one single paragraph. In fact, I have written a whole book on how to vacation with babies and children…and stay sane! It’s called “The Travel Mamas’ Guide” and it’s crammed with all sorts of tips and humorous been-there, done-that stories to make traveling parents’ lives easier (including a whole chapter on how and why to do a home exchange!).
Colleen Lanin, author of “The Travel Mamas’ Guide” and founder of TravelMamas.com
Photo: Bradley Wells via Flickr
My kids are not directionally-challenged like their mother and they adore maps. In addition to the GPS on my phone, I always print out Google maps and we also follow our route in our Rand McNally book of maps. When I’m really organized, I do some research and share fun things the children who live in that area like to do. Many times, this is where we’ll stop for our regular breaks. When I’m not organized, Google Earth on my iPhone is a great way to track down parks and awesome rest areas along the way.
By: Amber Johnson, of TheMileHighMama.com
Photo: David Hurt via Flickr CC
When you’re travelling with kids, learn to roll with the punches. Even the most organised families will encounter unforseen hassles and delays, but as long you’re all safe, there’s no need to let them spoil your mood. When things go wrong, focus on keeping the family’s morale up. We also believe you should never be afraid to travel with kids. Children are naturally inquisitive and resilient, and as long as you are with them, they’ll happily adapt to most situations. For our Christmas issue, we sent a writer and her 15-year-old son Tom on a ship Antarctica. Despite the freezing conditions and his initial horror at discovering there was no wifi on-board, Tom embraced the experience and had an incredible time that will stay with him forever. That’s why Family Traveller magazine and website are dedicated to giving you all the inspiration and information you need to plan an unforgettable family trip. We give you the lowdown on everything from holidays costing less than £1000, to an expedition to the frozen continent. Whatever your budget, travelling with your kids is an incredible adventure, so get out there, explore the world, and love your time together!
By: Jane Anderson, magazine editor of FamilyTraveller.com
Featured Phto: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, CC via Flickr