Are you planning on travelling overseas with a young family this year? If so, then you want to arm yourself with as much advice as possible before you go. And where better to get that advice than from a travel advisor! Our resident travel advice expert Fiona Rouse has 9 top tips to maintain sanity while travelling.
Let’s face it, the notion of travelling together as a family is great – quality time spent together far from the pressures of everyday life experiencing something new and exciting. The reality, however, can be far different.
Between you and the romanticism of sun-kissed beaches, friendly locals and fascinating culture are obstacles such as airports, jet lag, lost luggage, your child’s attention span, your level of preparedness and your own tolerance levels! But there are some simple tips to follow that can help to take the tension out of travel.
A travel advisor’s 9 top tips to maintain sanity while travelling
1. Check in online to make sure you get the seats and service best suited to your family. This simple piece of pre-planning avoids the possibility of your family being split across different seating and ensures you get the baby bassinet if you need one. It also means you can order child meals and makes sure that special dietary requirements anyone in your family may have are catered for.
2. Try to keep the kids (and yourself!) going until the evening time at the new destination to help reset your body clock and avoid jetlag as much as possible. If you need a nap to get you through, make sure you set your alarm and limit it to a short hour or so. Of course, if your young ones normally sleep during the day, allow them to do so but just monitor the duration to avoid an unwanted wake-up call in the middle of the night.
3. Always have essentials such as nappies, wipes, food with you in your carry on luggage along with a spare change of clothes and some basic toiletries in case your checked luggage doesn’t manage to arrive in the same destination as you do. This way, you will have enough stuff to get you through until your bags catch up or you can get to some shops to stock up on supplies.
4. Check out your destination for possible health risks and prepare for these with any vaccinations required. A basic first-aid kit with some all-purpose antibiotics, paracetamol/pamol and electrolites is a must-have in your luggage and can ease the stress of unplanned mishaps or ailments.
5. Plan your trip so that the kids get time doing things they want too. If they are old enough, encourage them to research the area you are going to and contribute towards the itinerary. You might not appreciate some of their choices, but compromise is part of what traveling together is all about. Involving the kids in the planning will also make them aware of your ‘must-sees- and-dos’ and increase their excitement and anticipation of the trip.
6. If you have younger children, allow enough down time in the day to allow them to sleep or play. Older children have more stamina to keep going throughout the day (as long as they are well fed!), but the littlies still need to be able to have that time out.
7. Make sure you take some books, games and toys for your child to occupy them on the long journey. They will also come in handy when you want some time out yourself and need them to occupy themselves for 5 minutes as well as being able to keep the routine of bed-time story time in place.
8. Have plenty of snacks and water available on you. Often when travelling meal times become a bit loose, especially if journeying from one area to another, so it a good idea to always have sustenance on hand to tide the kids over in between meals. A ‘holiday lolly bag’ for snacking and rewarding good behaviour can be a life saver!
9. Lastly, remember that even when surrounded with the comforts of home, kids have good days and bad days. Keep your perspective. If they throw a tantrum as you are trying to get on that train that is leaving ‘RIGHT NOW!’, it does not mean that you are pushing them too hard or that you are expecting too much of them. Just deal with it and move on – they certainly will!
This really is sage advice for families planning to travel this year. These travel advisor’s 9 top tips to maintain sanity while travelling, are provided to do just that, keep you sane! If you’re still in the planning stages of your family trip, make sure you also check out Surviving a Long-haul Flight with Toddlers or Sightseeing with Kids . And for more fantastic family destinations, and tips while travelling, check out our Family Travel section.