Stress-free Travelling with Kids
Traveling with the little ones – is it always a bless? Hell no! Some even say there are vacations and there are family travels. There are a few things that you can be certain about related to children but facing some bigger or minor problems when you travel with kids is something that you can count on.
How to do the best for your kid while still enjoy those travels that feed your own soul might be a challenge but not a mission impossible. Here are some tips that are easy to follow which help making family vacations the time well spent together.
Why do problems come up travelling with kids in the first place? Everyone who’s a parent knows that there a good days and bad days (especially with toddlers) and that comes with you when you’re travelling as well. In fact, if there is a phase or a stressful period in your child’s life that makes him behave like a little monster sometimes, it probably gets worse while travelling. Why, you may ask.
I suggest there’s a lot of wanderlust living in your soul as you’re reading this blog – it makes you a happier person even to dream about an upcoming trip and if the vacation is already there then whooohaaa… You probably don’t like much daily routine and love learning new things, having diverce experiences and seeing the world from different perspectives just like I do. Well, kids actually don’t.
Yep, children are different and some actually born to wanderlust (my daughter is one of them). But mainly it’s in children’s nature that they like stability, their own comfort zone and feeling safe there but tripping around pretty much affects all those aspects. If they feel insecure about all the new places and people, different beds to crawl in the night and some anxiety from the people who control the things that are happening with them (read: parents) they might get stressed out. And then they run around, scream or do whatever to make you think it will be the last family vacation until they grow up.
So, how to avoid problems and have chill companions when travelling with kids? Here are some tips for stress-free traveling with kids that have helped me.
1) Keep it calm
It’s the silliest yet the best advice you can get if you go to family vacation for the first time. You can be sure something unexpected will happen during your trip and don’t even try to plan everything. Is it going to upset you or it’s another challenge that you can all face together? It all depends on how you and your spouse react, actually.
Most of the problems that you’re facing when travelling with kids will fade aventually if you keep it calm. So do your best. That’s what I always try to do – my best – but it’s not always enough to stay calm in every situation, of course.
2) Take your time
Are you the kind of traveller who wants to see it all – do all the sightseeing possible, learn the culture, visit all the hip places, meet some local people, spend each night in a different location to see as much as possible and so on…? With kids it will not work out that way. Take your time, plan less and be flexible – you will still see a lot and do a lot but in your own rhytm.
If the flight is late and you’ll miss something or the kids still feel jet lagged then give them the time they need to recover. It will probably not work out the best if you try to stick to your plan to do it all with exhausted children.
In return you might discover that you’ll even see (and feel) more if you travel slow. I have discover to my surprise that traveling as a family makes it possible to see the local life more closely. You will meet local families and their habits when you hang out in playgrounds and everyone is more likely to make connections with you as you drag those little ones with you. So, taking your time makes traveling with kids stress-free and is definitely worth trying.
3) Be flexible
You can be sure something unexpected happens, there’s nothing you can do about and that might be the one reason why you love to travel that much – to see new perspectives and experience unexpected. That’s how you react that will affect the feeling you will all have after the trip.
Be flexible to change your plans. If it’s not possible to do the things that you planned for today, just change the plans. Maybe the kids need running around the playground or having fun at the beach today and you can continue travelling around all the places you wanted to visit tomorrow.
Being flexible might even mean that you can do more than you planned. Just don’t plan too much in advance when you travel with kids.
4) Make compromises
You will probably not hang out in jazz bars each night and mostly change a’la carte restaurants to family ones, but that’s just how your life is at the moment. And you probably even won’t miss it as sharing everything with your little buddies gives lots of new colors to your life anyway.
Making compromises will help you to avoid problems and survive all the family trips returning happy and relaxed.
5) Secure the rear
What happens when something really unexpected turns out? The travel statistics show that main thing that will change family vacation plans is that the kids gets sick. So be prepared for that. Have a reasonable travel insurance (with trip cancellation) that will cover the whole family if you have to postpone the trip or return early and buy expencive last minute flights for everyone.
Think about the people that can help you if something unexpected happens. Is it a travel consultant that you can reach 24/7 in your own language and who’s a expert if you need new bookings or advice fast? Do you have all the contacts necessary if somebody gets sick or loses documents? Do you know where to ask help and what will it cost abroad? Some prethinking about unexpected situations will help to have stress-free travels with kids.
6) Avoid ferries (or at least don’t count on them)
Yep, it’s a joke, but the joke’s on me. I don’t know why but I have never faced so many delays and cancellations flying than travelling with ferries. If you want to visit all those lovely islands and feel the wonderful atmosphere of little resorts or local villages taking ferry is the best option, but somewhy there are always issues.
Perhaps ferry traffic is the most affected by weather conditions and local manana lifestyle. Ferries are always late or postponed or you can manage to take off in time but the waves will make everybody sick. Whatever it is I have had many troubles travelling with kids by ferries. Still avoiding them is not always an option to go where I want to go so I have decided not to plan anything special for ferry travel dates, cause if I do I will probably end up changing the plans.
7) Keep it calm again
Read the first paragraph once more and that’s all you need actually. Zen parents make zen kids, travelling or not.
Did you find some advice that you think might help you when facing problems travelling with kids?
I hope you did. But hey, I’m not a super mom nor a person, so don’t think I can always follow those easy steps myself and avoid all the problems when travelling with kids. In my experience, age 2-3 is the most challenging. So keep it calm for the third time if that’s the age you’re kids are at now.