Travelling with young children can be wonderful and nerve wracking at the same time. Having said that, it is important to note that patience is the name of the game when you are travelling with young children.
Children are very curious in nature in particular at the ages between 2 and 5. They are interested in knowing about everything that’s happening around them.
When children start travelling from a very young age say from around 2 years old, they tend to be open minded. They learn to step out of their comfort zone. They experience unique things. They get an opportunity to meet different people and hear or speak a different language.
There is no definite rule for when a child is ready or old enough to travel. Some children adjust quickly and tend to travel well starting from an early age while the others cannot and are demanding.
Alan Kazdin, a Yale University Psychology professor, says that the temperament of a child and the parent are key in deciding if a child is ready to travel or not.
While travelling with young children it is better to remember that it is not wise to pack more stuff. Take stuff that is really required and don’t pack a lot of clothes. It would be difficult to carry your luggage and handle young children.
For example, it would be wise to pack only one toy per child. Too many toys can occupy more space and can invite more trouble. They tend to break too and consoling a child during that time could be a parent’s worst nightmare.
Let us now look at what to do while travelling with young children.
Ensure that your kids wear comfortable clothes that are stain proof and will suit the weather conditions of the place. For example, if you are travelling to the seashore, pack light cotton and linen clothes. It is safe to have an extra pair in your handbag just in case your child may need to change or soils his/her clothes.
In case you are travelling by air this is useful as children can keep their shoes off during flight.
Take appropriate medication like medicines for fever, cough and cold and Band-Aids along with you. Do not carry the entire medical kit with you.
Children tend to get cranky when they are hungry or irritated so it would be ideal to carry some light foods or snacks to offer them before you reach your stop or whenever they are hungry. Do not carry food items or drinks that can mess or soil their clothes.
Art and craft materials
Carry some crayons and coloured papers for them to draw. You can give older kids a sketching book to colour and sketch. Also think about carrying some small activity games that they can play during travel.
Smartphone and tables with their games loaded
Make sure to download your child’s favourite movies or games.
Wipes and tissues
Always carry wet wipes and baby wipes with you. Baby wipes can be used for multiple purposes other than wiping the baby’s bottom dry. You can use it for washing dirty hands when there is no water around, wiping a runny nose, wiping up spilled clothes or a mess and many more.
Always stick on to their sleep schedules while travelling too as children tend to get cranky when their sleep is not complete.
Here are some of the most important things to do before travelling.
Get your child ready for vacation
By reading books or browsing the Internet you can get information about the place you will visit. If required show your children pictures of the places you would be visiting so that they are excited to travel there. Talk to them about where you will be going, what to expect and what you will do. Include them in the plan and get them excited about it.
Make sure you are aware as to where the bathrooms are so that you can take your child as soon as they would like to use the bathroom. This may be particularly required if you are taking your children to a theme park or a mall in the new city.
Introduce them to different foods
If you are taking your children abroad then it would be good to introduce that kind of foods at home before travelling so that your children will get used to the type of food that is available there. Children love trying out new things.
If your child is a pre-schooler it would be ideal to inform the teachers and other school authorities about your child’s absence i.e. if you are travelling outside of school vacations.
If you are travelling by road then it would be very handy to fix a car seat for your child in the car before you travel. If your child has a habit of falling asleep while travelling, then this car seat would help them stay in the right position. You don’t have to wake them up after you have reached your destination. You can just carry the car seat with you.
It is good to potty train young children so that they behave well and not cause much trouble to you parents while travelling.
It is also a good idea to tell what acceptable behaviour is and what is not. For example, if you are taking a flight, explain to them that kicking the seats in front of them is not acceptable.
Always remember that it is your children’s’ vacation too so consider extra time and be flexible while travelling with them. The very best thing to do before travelling would be to plan well and execute it as planned. Sometimes things can go wrong, and children may disappoint us but that should not let you get upset. It is after all another good feather that could be added to your cap.
All the best for a great travel with young children!