Setting off on a journey with your little ones soon? With some advance planning, you can avoid common stresses and make the most of your quality time away. Here are a few of our favorite tips for traveling with children.
Involve them in the planning process.
Pack smarter, not harder!
Carry-on: Infant Edition
If you have an infant, your diaper bag can double as a carry-on. Be sure to pack more baby wipes than you think you’ll need; a few pacifiers; a change of clothes; plastic zip-loc bags (for trash or stained clothes); and a few small favorite toys.
Carry-on: Older Kids Edition
If you have slightly older kids, you’ll want to ditch the pacifiers for things like protein-focused snacks. That way you can rest easy knowing you’ll avoid any hangry little ones and also sidestep the salt in most in-flight snacks as a bonus. Don’t forget headphones; a tablet preloaded with movies, shows, books, and/or games; and any necessary power adapters.
In Your Larger bags
Avoid whites and light colors. As we all know, anything that can get a stain, will get a stain. That’s what Murphy said, right? Focus on darker colors and comfortable fabrics that will withstand dirt and wrinkling. Toss in a travel size bottle or two of Febreze Wrinkle Spray, just in case. It also serves as a good fabric deodorizer. As a rule of thumb, we suggest you pack two bathing suits and two pairs of shoes per child. And yes, you can count the shoes they wear on the flight as one of the two pairs.
Owner/travel advisor Charlotte French of Cavatica Luxury Travel learned a great tip from a client that could help you put your best foot forward. “Pack a pair or two of spare shoe laces! Kids can often manage to break these, and getting to a shop that has them isn’t always easy on vacation. They can also be used for a multitude of other quick fixes, such as when a string gets pulled out of a hoodie and lost, or tying the top of a shopping bag shut.”
Be strategic when booking your flights.
Book in advance—and sign up for mileage rewards
When planning a trip with kids, booking way in advance is a must. Not only will prices be lower, but your family is far more likely to find seats together.
And while your advisor is booking those flights, remember to have each child signed up for the airline’s rewards program. No time like the present to start earning miles towards future trips!
Night or day?
Now, some parents prefer taking evening flights around bedtime, in the hope that their children might sleep on the plane. Keep in mind, though, that evening flights tend to be more expensive. Also, if your evening flight is delayed, you could risk a child’s meltdown (not to mention your own) while you wait at the gate.
Instead, aim for flights that depart between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.. Not only will you avoid having to wake your kids up early, you’ll generally avoid rush hour traffic upon arrival.
Need to catch a connecting flight? Try to leave at least 90 minutes between flights so you don’t have to race across an airport with little ones in tow. That way you will have plenty of time to feed and change those tired and hungry tiny travelers before you catch your next plane.
Let them find their way – or at least think they are.
Avenue Two Travel’s own Amy Soliman Moore uses travel days as a learning opportunity for her little ones. “When we travel with our kids in airports, we have them walk ahead of us to learn how to navigate their way. We’ll ask them to get us to a certain gate, baggage claim, taxi stand, etc. They have fun with it, and are on track to becoming confident world travelers!”
All confidence aside, you might still want to consider a GPS tracking device for each of your kids while you’re on the move. A wristwatch-style tracker like TickTalk is ideal for young children, while tracking apps like KidsGuard are great for tweens and teens with smartphones.
For an extra dose of safety, Febbie Staniar, travel advisor with Wonder Travel Studio, says, “I always take a picture of my kids at the airport and before a day of touring so I remember exactly what they are wearing and look like that day. I also tuck parents’ phone numbers in their pocket in case we get separated if they’re too young for their own phones.”
Know what to bring and what to leave behind.
There are a lot of “what ifs” and “yes, buts” when choosing how to transport your infant or toddler while traveling.
Bring a Sling?
If you use a sling on a regular basis, then by all means use it during your trip—it’s what your baby is used to.
Never used a sling before? Still consider bringing one along, for at least your flights. It might turn out to be a great option when sightseeing. And if it isn’t a success, it won’t take up a lot of room in your luggage. You could even use it as a towel or blanket.
Stroller—Everyday or Lightweight?
Additionally, a stroller can be a saving grace when your little one gets tired of walking or needs a quick nap. That said, bringing your everyday heavy stroller could be a recipe for disaster on stairs or cobblestone streets. Opt for a lightweight stroller that’s functional and easy to maneuver.
Car Seat—Rent or Bring Your Own?
Your own car seat will be the right size plus you’ll know how to install, remove, and buckle it. However, if you rent a car seat along with your rental car, you don’t have to schlep it on planes—and you can have someone at the agency can show you how to install, remove, and buckle the seat. You might want to base your choice on how much stuff you’re already bringing.
And while you’re in the car…
For long car trips between destinations, Avenue Two Travel founder Debbie Bush recommends playing the story game. “One person starts a story, continues until they run out of ideas, then passes it on to another family member to continue. See how long you can keep it going. No winners or losers, just a fun and creative way to pass the time!”
Choose accommodations that suite your family best.
Most great city hotels have central locations in popular areas. This makes it easy to skip renting a car and navigate your way around, but sometimes limits you to less of a local vibe. Typically tourist centers also aren’t known for being quiet in the evenings. If your kids are light sleepers we think a white noise app may just do the trick.
Hotels with on-site dining are very convenient. They give you the freedom of making fewer decisions when your kids are hungry and need food fast! Plus, your advisor can offer perks such as complimentary breakfast. However, dining at hotel eateries every meal of the day may get a bit boring, especially when you’re in a new place you’re eager to explore.
If you’ve forgotten something at home, though, a hotel’s front desk staff can usually send up just about anything. The concierge can suggest local kid-friendly attractions you may have missed, and even help get passes and tickets. And if you want a night on the town, there’s often the possibility of an on-staff sitter.
Whether it’s an apartment, a condo, or a luxurious villa, the key advantage of a vacation rental is having a home away from home. You’ll have a kitchen, can be based in a residential neighborhood or natural surroundings, and can generally sprawl out as if you own the place.
Many high-end rentals now include concierge service, giving you hotel-style access to local advice and assistance—including where to find a babysitter.
True, a more remote location will likely require renting a car or hiring a driver, but on the upside, you’re bound to encounter less noise from neighbors.
And when it comes to meals, you and your kids can have the option of exploring area markets, bringing back your haul to your rental’s kitchen, and cooking together. Or you might just want to try neighborhood spots and meet some locals. Alternatively, you could hire a chef who can prepare regional cuisine, as well as whip up some of your kids’ favorites.
And one more thing…
Be sure to ask your travel advisor for their best tips for traveling with kids. They’ve likely seen and done it all when it comes to family vacations, and would love to save you time, energy, stress, and worry![/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]