How to stay sane while traveling with kids
WITH the holiday season officially here, it is finally time for that long-awaited family getaway.
But traveling with kids, especially if they are below the age of seven, is no walk in the park.
On top of having to weigh out your options, such as choosing a family-friendly or kid-friendly holiday, you will also need to research, plan, and prepare everything from the itinerary to keep the kids entertained, to transportation and accommodation, and even right down to entry prices (if any) and of course, what to pack.
Regardless of whether you have done this countless times or if it is your first, traveling with children can be overwhelming because there are so many things to consider, worry about, and do.
Fret not. The first step to a successful trip with your kids is to plan ahead.
Here are a couple of handy survival tips to help you stay sane and survive your holiday with children:
Do not overpack
Rule number one.
The more people there are in your traveling group, the more stuff you will be packing. So it is understandably hard to not overpack. But there are ways around this predicament.
If you are traveling long-haul, prepare the essentials to keep the young ones comfortable, entertained, and happy. Aside from low-sugar snacks, a spare outfit, wipes, and art supplies consider packing a surprise such as a wrapped new toy. New toys are likely to keep them occupied for longer.
If your children are old enough, get them to carry their own small backpacks so you will not have to juggle lugging everything around on your own while trying to keep an eye on them.
Also, even if your child has outgrown diapers and is toilet-trained, consider using Pull-Ups anyway. This will save you the inconvenience of having to run to the bathroom or deal with an “accident”.
Above all, remember that everything else can be bought wherever you are.
Pick the right airline
By that, we mean pick an airline that is family-friendly or kid-friendly.
Some major airlines, such as Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific go the extra mile to ensure both you and your family enjoy a smooth-sailing journey to your destination.
For example, Air New Zealand has a Skycouch feature which turns a row of three economy seats into a completely flat surface, allowing infants to lie down next to their parents during a flight. This is exceptionally handy for long-haul flights.
Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific, on the other hand, treat children like VIPs. For parents who are bringing children from two to under 12 years old on board, Cathay Pacific will offer a colorful children’s fun pack full of goodies to keep them occupied on the flight.
Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), provides children and baby meals, powdered milk, baby bottles, paper diapers, aprons, drinks for children, and toys. This is on top of bassinets for babies.
Fly at bedtime
If your kid has already nailed his or her sleeping schedule, then there is no reason not to fly at bedtime. Flying at bedtime also allows you to milk your holiday for all it is worth because you will not be spending half a day just traveling.
Sure, the flights may cost more, but you cannot put a price tag on the ease it will give you when you have a quietly sleeping child. The other passengers will thank you as well.
Just be sure to bring a comfort object such as a blanket or pillow for familiarity.
And in the interest of planning ahead, avoid putting your kid on an aisle seat just in case he or she has difficulty sleeping on a plane, bus, or train journey. This will make it easier to contain him or her, so you will not have a child running up and down the airplane aisle shouting.
It is also safer because it stops little curious hands from messing with the food and beverage cart when it passes by.
List out all the necessary details in your itinerary: time, place, duration, getting there.
Download all the maps and apps that you need ahead of your trip so you will not rack up a heart-stopping bill on data roaming.
If you are taking your kids to a theme park, make it a point to list down the entry fees and extra charges for rides if any. Be sure to estimate how long each activity will take as well.
It will also be useful to note down the performance or parade times so you will not need to run helter-skelter or go on a wild choose chase with kids in tow.
Protip: There are plenty of free attractions to visit in most major cities such as parks, galleries, or heritage sites your family can enjoy.
You just need to find out where they are.