Traveling with children - to some people, the very words can cause them to break out in hives. To others, it seems achievable but only with a military grade action plan. And then, to a very small minority, it seems like a really fun way to spend your time off. But this article is not for those
people, because they are hardly the kind of people desperately searching Google for ‘traveling with kids tips’ at 9pm sipping a glass of Shiraz. Yes, I see you! So let’s stick to the main group of people - the people who still want to see new places, or take the family away, or even visit family somewhere. The parents who dream of swim up bars but are now searching for ‘child friendly villas’, and the couples lamenting the fact that they have to pay 75% of an adult fare for a 2 year old. The bulk of us - the palm tree dreamers, with the plastic Water Park reality.

Tricks and advice when it comes to taking the children anywhere, depends on quite a few factors. Plane or car travel? Domestic or international? Babies or school aged children? We’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list, to hopefully encompass every bracket. If you’ve made it this far, fill up your glass and keep reading. Don’t forget to save the link - you’ll be referring back to it come packing time!

First tip to flying with children, is in the packing of your hand luggage. This needs to be done with more precision and care than a barber cutting with a fresh blade. Children under the age of about 2 need little more than food and their favourite toy. Depending on the length and time of your flight, hopefully you’ll have them asleep for a decent portion of it. Make sure you have many more snacks than you would normally feed them in that time period - children on a flight can out eat an iron man pre competition. For children between 2-5, it’s time to let your creativity shine. Go to a $2 shop and purchase all of the junk your eyes can see - individually wrap it, and let the kids have a ‘present’ every time they get bored of the last one. It’s a novelty for the kids, they have new toys (and probably toys they wouldn’t have received at home!), and you can easily throw them away at the end of the holiday (or even in the airline bin) because they didn’t cost you an arm or a leg. Pack books, toy cars, and if you’re so inclined, charge up the iPad with their favourite movie and get 1-2 hours of semi silence.

Are you using a car at all on this trip? Perhaps you’re actually traveling to your destination by car, or maybe you’re hiring a car once you arrive. Most airlines will allow you to take the car seats as ‘free’ additional luggage, which is great because it means you don’t have to compromise on safety and can take your own. If carrying the seats through the airport is too much of a hassle for you, hiring is still a great option - just give the car company a call ahead of time to make sure you have the seat you’re after - they’ll have them properly installed at the other end by the time you touch down! If you’re traveling via car, window shades and rear mirrors are perfect add ons to make sure you’re child can comfortably go to sleep without the sun in their eyes, and you can watch their every move - splendid for maintaining the illusion that parents do in fact, have eyes
in the back of their heads!

If your children are still taking naps, no doubt these will be all over the place. New rooms, new beds, lots of activities and possibly an early or late start. The only and easiest way to deal with this is to be as flexible with your plans as possible. Don’t plan anything for the day you arrive -
anything more than ordering a pina colada is too strenuous, and trying to cram in a hike is ludicrous! And not in the dulcet toned rapper kind of way. Try to take a sleeping bag or pillow case from home, and even a zip lock bag of your own washing powder can keep the familiar smells so that everything isn’t too much of a sensory overload.

School aged children can actually be really fun to go away with. They’re old enough to probably read and write, and really take pleasure in seeing and discovering new things and places. I took my 8 year old nephew to a gallery, and for a child who is normally stuck inside a video game, he had some really insightful things to say about the artwork! Have your children keep a journal of the trip - every night they can sit and write down what they did for the day, and one new thing they saw or learnt. It’s a wonderful wind down technique after a huge day of exploring, and it will
be fun for them to read back in years to come.

Some more quick fire and fun tips are:

  • Leave spontaneity for the couple trips - the more you have booked in and planned ahead, the smoother the trip will be.
  • Give the kids a camera! Maybe a disposable for the smaller ones - you can relive your entire trip when you get home, from knee height.
  • Pack enough nappies and wipes for 24-48 hours, but don’t waste valuable bag space with any more. You can buy these at your destination. On that note, buying pouches of baby food from the supermarket is a great way to keep the kids fed on something relatively healthy, instead of buying airport snacks (and much more cost efficient).
  • Panadol, Nurofen, band aids and a thermometer - small but essential!

And possibly the best tip - book a luxury, no holds barred trip - and leave the kids at home. Reward yourself for doing a dahm fine job of raising small humans day in, day out with a week long cruise around the Bahamas! Cant afford it? Get yourself a one night in a hotel in the next big town over and leave the kids with your parents for the night - one night is better than no night!