Travelling with kids – How Is It Possible? (Advice Clinic)
Travelling with kids – how is it possible? That’s the question I’m most frequently asked when people are considering if they can jet off to far flung places. And my answer is ‘why wouldn’t you be able to?’
Ok, so you can’t just shove your life’s belongings on the roof-rack of your vintage VW Beetle and see how far it takes you. Those days are in your past and maybe in your future too, but they’re not for right now.
Right now you need to pack the Calpol, get the Guinea Pigs looked after and pack a bazillion wet wipes. But does that mean your wanderlust needs to take a backseat? Hell no. Just do it a bit differently.
For me, I waited until my youngest was 6 until we started doing long-haul because – well frankly, she was just deeply unpleasant on planes before then. Still the only child I’m aware of that was about to be taped to her seat mid-flight if she didn’t stop tantrumming and screaming! My eldest, however, was a dream to travel with and until no2 came along some six years later, travelled with us long haul with no tantrums from age 2. It’s all down to the individual child and only you know when they’re ready. If they’re not ready – don’t do it. It’s deeply unpleasant for everyone involved, not least of all you.
Plan, Plan and Plan Some More
I involve the kids in every holiday that we plan. Make them do a bit of research and get them to choose a few activities they’d like to do. That way, they’re invested from the get go. We create a wall chart which is based on a map and starts with everything we’re going to do … we add Post-its and Photos once we get going. I’ll show you our current one, although we haven’t reached the ‘adding photos’ stage yet…
Then I create a mammoth spreadsheet – I do love a list! A row for each day and three major columns which contain travel, accommodation and activities. Those major columns then break into two sub columns – one for the written details of each category and another for the cost.
The biggest things to factor in when travelling with kids is how long yours will stay amiable. Climbing a volcano for six hours might suit one in a hundred five year olds, but if yours are like mine – they’ll do a couple of hours before meltdown starts.
So look for the places where you can get there quickly. Explore mountains by cable car, then spend their amiable time walking around at the top. After all, that’s the gist of the experience for most people. And so on. Museums will be good for a couple of hours but unless you’ve bred Stephen Hawkins Jnr, eight hours is pushing it. Doing lots of little bite sized adventures is the way to go. Keep their minds active and switch it up. A cultural hour or two followed by an energy-consuming romp.
And don’t fret the holiday food. In very unfamiliar cuisine areas, kids can be quite intimidated. Rather than let them go hungry and make the entire day miserable, give them the donut for breakfast. They’ll burn it off and besides, no-one’s watching!
If you’re one for insisting that they have green algae-enriched rye bread for brekkie and organic hummus for supper, then maybe you could relax the rules for the holiday? If you can’t see yourself doing that, then maybe wait a few years to start tripping.
Accommodating Your Needs
Use travel forums to understand the accommodation that you are booking, especially if you have very young children or if your family has extra needs such as wheelchair access. There is always someone willing to give advice. Don’t be afraid to ask. But please – when you come back – help that community in return by writing reviews or answering others’ questions.
I’ll do another post another day for ‘Top Tips’ whilst travelling because we’ve got lots of those. How to pack for multi-stop, multi-climate holidays. What to buy locally, etc.
For now – I’ll just finish with saying that if you can afford to do it, make the decision to travel. To travel is to live, feel, see. There’s no guarantee of a tomorrow for any single one of us. Do what you can while you can.
Live and let travel 🙂
If you’d like to go on one of our trips, why not try our Trip Diaries – a post each day from where we go.
Or you could try our Trip Overviews – an overview of what we thought of each trip.