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My 10 Top Tips For Travelling With Children

My customers often ask me how I’ve managed to travel to so many wonderful destinations with my young children in tow!

From toddler tantrums to last-minute toilet dashes and everything in between, I’ve seen and dealt with it all when it comes to taking my young family away on both short- and long-haul trips.

I never expect my kids to be perfectly well-behaved while we’re travelling. How can I? They’re still learning about the world, and travel can be scary even for adults. But over the years, I’ve worked out how to make their lives (and my life!) easier while we’re on the road or in the air.

Here are my 10 top tips for travelling with children.

1. Make sure you feel comfortable with the destination you've chosen

I'm always encouraging my customers to be adventurous with their travel choices, even if they're going on holiday with their young children. But whether you're planning a trip of a lifetime to Nepal or a seemingly more family-friendly adventure to a Spanish resort, it's important that you feel comfortable taking children to the destination of choice. If you do it will make it much easier for the destination to support a fun, happy and positive experience for everyone involved – including you and any other adults who are coming along for the ride. If you're not happy taking your children on long haul flights and you're not sure if they will cope, start closer to home and get them used to travel. On the other hand if you feel relaxed about taking your kids to more exotic destinations do it! 

2. Take lots of activities for the journey

Planning is key when it comes to finding enough things for the kids to do during their journey. Books, colouring books, puzzles, crosswords, fidget spinners and sensory toys are all a great bet for younger children – and, of course, tablets, phones and in-flight entertainment will help to keep boredom at bay.

3. Don’t forget the snacks

Food can be expensive in transit, so make sure you pack plenty of snacks. If you’re flying, you’ll need to make sure any food you’re carrying will pass through airport security.

It can be tempting to load the kids up on sugary treats while they’re waiting around to board, but bear in mind that this sugar will likely kick in just at the point when you want them to settle down. So, save the chocolates, cakes, and sweets for later in your journey (or, better still, use them as a reward for good behaviour when you land).

4. Plan your cabin luggage carefully

If you’re travelling by plane, only take the absolute necessities into the cabin with you. You don’t want to worry about finding enough storage room for big bags, especially if the aircraft is busy and overhead locker space is at a premium. It also frees up your hands when you are navigating your way through the airport with children, who may decide they no longer want to carry their favourite teddy, or don't want to walk themselves! Bring the essentials and leave all the nice-to-haves in your hold suitcases.

5. Don’t be tempted to overpack

The same goes for your hold luggage. As parents, we want to think about every eventuality, which often means packing everything but the kitchen sink when we’re travelling with the kids. But somebody’s got to carry all this stuff around, and chances are it’s going to be you! Write a list of all your must-haves and ask a travel specialist or independent travel agent (like me) for advice on what you’re likely to need when you reach your destination.

6. Store all your key travel information in an easy-to-reach place

Keep your passports, boarding passes, plane numbers, arrival/departure times and travel insurance details to hand. You’ll also want to store your travel agent’s number in your phone so you can get hold of them quickly if you need to.  

7. Tag your children (yes, really!)

If you’re worried about your kids wandering off and getting lost in a foreign place, write your name and phone number on a waterproof wristband and ask them to wear it for the duration of your holiday. This way, if they end up somewhere out of sight, a responsible adult will be able to contact you right away, and you’ll be reunited in no time. I know it can sometimes be tricky to get kids to wear bands or accessories of any kind, but do persevere with them, as knowing they’re identifiable will give you some much-needed peace of mind.

8. Invest in good sun protection

There’s no better feeling than stepping off a plane into warm air and bright sunshine. But as much as they might love the change in environment and be desperate to get out in the fresh air, your little ones will be susceptible to sunburn.

Buy child-friendly sunscreen before your trip so you can start using it straightaway. Sprays, creams and roll-ons will all do the same job, so it doesn’t matter which type of product you choose, as long as it’s got a high SPF (50+ is recommended). To keep them safe in the heat, reapply suncream to your children every couple of hours, or after they have been in water. You can (and should) also purchase sun hats and sun suits for extra protection.

9. Give them a small budget to shop with

Holidays provide you with a great opportunity to teach your kids about money. Your little ones will have a lot of fun getting used to a different currency and getting them to pay for their own items in shops will definitely boost their confidence and communication skills.

To keep your budget in check, why not give each child a set amount of cash to spend while you’re away? They’ll learn how to prioritise their spending and will be less likely to keep relying on the bank of Mum and Dad!

10. Don’t panic!

I know that travelling with children can seem overwhelming, especially if this is the first time you’ve taken the whole family away – but it will all be worth it once you’re at your destination, settling into your accommodation, and getting ready to make some incredible memories. Remember, too, that kids will learn how to react in busy environments or unfamiliar situations by watching their parents for cues. Even though you might be stressing out under the surface, try to appear calm and in control, and you’ll find that your children will follow suit.

Hopefully, the tips I’ve listed above should help you set your little ones up for a happier and more relaxed experience when they’re travelling overseas. If you need any further help or would like to learn more about my own experiences while travelling with young children, do get in touch. You can also learn more about travelling as a family here.

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