Planning a year-end holiday with the brood? Bet you’re thinking of things like how to pack light, how to not lose your belongings (and your temper), making sure everyone’s healthy and happy, and of course, how to prevent those on-the-road melt-downs.
Travelling with little ones is not easy, but holidays are a great way to bond as a family. So how do you stay sane while on the road with your rugrats? We asked seasoned parent travelers for their best tips and tricks to make every vacation a smooth one.
1. Ziplock clothing
It’s easy to keep track of how much clothing you need when you’re on your own, but with kids, especially if you’ve got more than one, organisation is key. Put individual outfits into labelled ziplock bags – and once worn, place the soiled clothes back into these bags to be brought home. Mum of two Chloe Tang swears by Ziplock bags, since “You can squeeze all the air out before sealing and you’ll fit so much more into your luggage!” Click here for more packing tips.
2. Rent bulky baby gear
If you’re going on a tour with a baby, you’ll likely need a stroller. If you’re taking a road trip, you’ll need a car seat. And if your hotel doesn’t provide a baby cot, you’ll probably need a travel cot.
Don’t worry about taking all these baby essentials along with you… you can always rent them at your destination!
Don’t worry about taking all these baby essentials along with you – though there are some fantastic portable baby gear available – you can always rent them at your destination! Here are some options in the UK, the US, and Australia. Says Timothy Hon, dad to Clement, 2, “We bought a light and portable umbrella stroller just for our trip to Perth, but Clement was uncomfortable and couldn’t nap in it. We ended up renting a wonderful Baby Jogger stroller that was perfect.”
3. Make travel IDs
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to be separated from their child in a foreign land. Make a travel card – a simple laminated card with information such as your mobile phone number and hotel information if your child goes missing – and place it in your little one’s pocket. You can even make ID bracelets or a temporary tattoo to keep the essential information on the child.
4. Don’t forget your first aid kit and meds
Falling ill when you’re on holiday can be an ordeal, especially when you don’t have access to your family doctor, or familiar off-the-counter meds. So, make sure you have some essential ones with you, like paracetamol for fever, and charcoal pills in case anyone gets the runs. Pack a first-aid kit as well, for those unexpected cuts and injuries.
5. Pack entertainment
Leave those 50-piece puzzles behind. Instead, go for simple card games like Uno, a couple of toy vehicles and crayons and colouring sheets. Alternatively, create a fun and educational busy bag for each child. Pack them in small ziplock bags so that they are easily accessible on your flight. Going for a road trip? Here are some fantastic games you can play in the car.
6. Check up on child-friendly flight features
Pick an airline that caters to families with young kids, and your flight will be much smoother! Some airlines provide essentials like diapers and wet wipes, entertainment and colouring kits, while others even provide child-minding services so you can have some shuteye. Book early to enjoy the full benefits, like a basinet for bubba if he’s within that age range.
7. Pack lollipops
Surprise your munchkin with this little treat as the plane takes off – it not only sets him in a good mood for the journey, but sucking on something also helps to ease ear pressure. Tang brings gummy bears along for her kids, as she finds that “chewing helps take the pressure off, and I can get the less sweet ones so they aren’t bouncing off the walls.” For younger toddlers and babies, a soothing bottle of milk will do the trick.
It not only sets him in a good mood for the journey, sucking on something also helps to ease ear pressure.
8. Layer clothing
You never know how the temperature is going to change as you leave your home country, so wearing layers of clothes gives you more flexibility. Feeling warm? Take off a layer. Chilly? Put that sweater back on. It also comes in handy if junior happens to spill his chocolate milk over his top – just take it off since you’ve got another one under.
9. Create a car sick kit
For kids with motion sickness, a car sick kit is essential. You’re going to want to pack anti-nausea wrist bands, medication, sour sweets to stave off the nausea, lots of plastic bags, disinfecting wipes, tissues, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Leslie Ann, a mum of three, also keeps a can of Lysol disinfectant spray and Febreze fabric refresher in her car, in case one of the kids throw up. “I’m very sensitive to the smell and the lingering smell is awful! If I still can’t get rid of it, I use some lavender essential oils.”
10. Print out maps
Whether you’re taking a long haul flight or a road trip, there’s bound to be a chorus of “Are we there yet?” if you’ve got little ones along for the ride. Silence those whines with a simple print out of a map where you can mark the start of your journey and your destination. Laminate the map and provide some dry erase markers for your mini-mes to track your progress.
11. Bring a lint roller
Crumbs in the car seat? Glitter pencil shavings on wooly sweater top? Your kiddo will get into a mess or two, no matter where you are in the world. Thankfully, lint rollers pick up more than just lint.
12. Do your downloads at home
You’re giving junior the greenlight to gadget away this vacation – don’t worry, we completely understand! But, don’t forget to download all the programmes and games that he wants to play while you’ve got free Wifi at home. Notes Sharlene Huang, mum to Mabel, 4, “The last thing you want to do is to tell your daughter that episode 4 is only available when we get to the hotel room!”
13. Childproofing 101
Plastic covers aren’t the only way to cover those dangerous electrical outlets in your hotel room. You can also use plasters to cover the outlet holes so that your peewee won’t feel the intense need to stick his pinkie in them. Alternatively, take along a roll of masking tape. Besides covering electrical outlets, you can also use it to childproof sharp table edges, or secure a toilet seat.
Pack just one travel adaptor, with a power strip that suits all your devices.
14. Use the hotel sink
No bathtub in the hotel? No worries. Many hotel bathroom sinks have warm water and are large enough to bathe your baby in. Says Emma Kepli, mum to Sophie, 6 months, “We were hesitant to book a cruise, because the bathrooms are tiny and don’t have bathtubs. Turns out we didn’t have to worry, as she fit perfectly in the bathroom sink.”
15. Pack a power strip
So, you’ve got two cameras, three phones, two tablets and a laptop? You don’t need to bring travel adaptors for every single device. Pack just one travel adaptor, with a power strip that suits all your devices.
16. Know when to scale back
Holidays are a wonderful time to have an adventure as a family, and to make incredible memories, but keep in mind that travelling with kids may be quite different from what you’re used to. Leave gaps in your itinerary for just chilling with the family, or giving your sweeties some down time. Don’t fret if it gets too cold for a hike, or if you missed a chance to dine at an upscale sushi restaurant. Instead, be open to plans changing – there are plenty of other experiences out there.
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