9 great tips for a happy family holiday

Avid traveller and mother of two Ana Ow has pointers on how young families can enjoy a tears-free vacay.

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To many parents, the mere thought of travelling with young children is enough to make them reach for a painkiller. Yet, travelling with young ’uns can actually turn them into adaptable individuals who think fast on their feet and are comfortable in new environments.

What you fear most is most probably the journey to your destination — what if your toddler kicks and screams throughout the flight? In fact, the younger they are, the easier it is to travel. Here’s how:

Travelling with babies

The first thing to remember about bringing a baby on board a plane is to have exactly what you need and nothing more. You don’t want to carry too many things — especially toys — that you could lose or drop.

1. Invest in a good baby carrier and travel pram It leaves your hands free and is the best choice for any kind of travel. Carrying heavier babies all day may leave you sweating and achy, so get a foldable stroller with a shoulder sling for city breaks.

You don’t want to carry too many things — especially toys — that you could lose or drop.

2. Pack only the essentials Here’s what should go in your baby bag: Some diapers, milk bottles and formula powder — if mummy is not nursing, baby wipes and extra change of clothes for baby and parents because accidents can happen. Otherwise, don’t bring anything you can easily purchase at your destination, like disposables.

3. Choose your seats well Not all of us can travel business class all the time. When travelling economy, spend the cash if you need to. Book the row with the bassinet or seats with a bit more legroom — although I actually prefer to be able to place my bag under the seat in front of me for easy access.

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Travelling with young kids

You can have fun with older tots and kids during the trip ― once they are able to walk and talk, you can get them to participate a little more.

4. Arrange a children’s meal Always make sure to request a child’s meal when you are booking the flight ― some carriers don’t offer a kid’s meal automatically with a child fare. Do remember to ask for a souvenir kid’s pack — some airlines even include nifty items like travel shoe bags or bandanas.

5. Involve your kids throughout your vacation Start with simple things like getting him to carry his own backpack or watch a younger sibling while you check in. You can also play a little game with them to see who can spot the right departure gate first.

6. Make them sleep Depending on the time difference when you land, you either want your kids to be ready to start the day or for bed. Sufficient rest is a must to prevent jet lag and keep kids from getting cranky, especially when you’re doing long-haul flights. You should always ensure they go to the toilet before boarding the plane and before a meal is served and for the rest of the trip, put travel sleep masks on them!

Give them something constructive to do, such as drawing the things that they have seen on the trip.

7. Let him indulge in special “vacation-only” treats It could be a book, toy or a snack they get to enjoy only when they are on holiday, which can distract them during long waiting times. For example, my children are not hooked on gadgets — they never ask for the iPad when we are not on vacation — so, something special like watching a movie on the plane can keep them occupied and entertained.

8. Manage junior’s expectations Tell them how much longer they have to spend in the car, train or plane. Better yet, give them something constructive to do, such as drawing the things that they have seen on the trip. Then, give these drawings as gifts to their grandparents. For older children, writing in a travel journal is a useful way of helping them learn about another culture while they are on a holiday.

9. Model good travelling behaviour If you are a fussy, frantic traveller, and always complaining to service staff, chances are, your kids will follow your example when they grow up. If you make it look easy, then your kids are likely adapt to your style. So, think positive, keep your arms free to hold their hands, and smile — you are on vacation!

Ana Ow is a full-time copywriter and freelance writer. Her two children, aged 5 and 8, have been travelling with her since they were 3 months old. The many places they have visited include the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China and Niagara Falls.

Photos: iStock

A version of this story first appeared on Channel NewsAsia

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