With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, now is the time when many parents are planning a much-needed break away with their family to decompress from a busy year. While the thought of traveling for hours on end with restless children, or of hearing the phrase “I’m bored” a hundred times, can send a chill up the spine of even the most seasoned travelers, a vacation with the littles doesn’t need to mean that you lose your cool.
Read on for five travel tips to help you keep calm and incorporate some important “me time” when you travel with the family.
It’s All in the Planning
One of the best ways to stave off holiday stress is to plan a slower pace than normal when you’re traveling with your kids. Children don’t cope well with a rushed pace, and a frenetic trip will only heighten your stress levels too. Try not to book in too many destinations or activities, and allow you and your family to take your time throughout the trip.
It also helps to start preparing your children for what’s to come before you leave. Talk to them about what kind of behavior is expected of them at the airport and on planes, or have a discussion about long road trips if you’re planning to drive.
Allow Enough Time at Airports or for Road Trips
If you shudder at the thought of negotiating a busy airport with the kids in tow, help yourself out by leaving plenty of time to check in, get through security, and board flights.
Instead of getting to the airport at the last possible moment, plan to arrive at least an hour before you normally would. This gives your kids time to run around and play for a while before boarding, meaning that they should be more content to sit still during the flight.
Similarly, if driving, allow plenty of time to stop for breaks during the trip so that you and your children can stretch your legs and enjoy the journey.
Keep Kids Hydrated and Fed With Healthy Food
Kids who are hungry or strung out on the sugar high of sweets and soft drinks are a nightmare, so make sure you keep your youngsters well fed (on healthy fruits and vegetables and whole foods) and hydrated regularly. It can often be difficult finding a drinking fountain or healthy store when you’re on the go and the kids need a drink in a hurry, so it’s helpful to pack reusable water bottles for the journey. Similarly, airlines usually don’t serve healthy kids’ meals so, as suggested on this article, pack healthy snacks in your handbag or other carry-on luggage that they can munch on during the flight.
Let Kids Have Some Say
While it is always a good idea to research fun, child-friendly activities that you and your family can enjoy on holiday, you don’t want to plan every last minute of each day. Leave some time for exploration and spontaneous activities instead — after all, you’ll never be able to predict a child’s mood or their energy levels before the time arrives. Some days they just might need to sleep in or relax around the pool for the day.
Kids, and teenagers especially, love to give input and feel like they have some control over choosing activities, so leave some decisions up to them. For younger children, consider offering them a choice of options for the day if you’re worried about what they might come up with!
A great way to help kids to stay engaged and amused during a trip is to suggest that they create keepsakes such as a travel journal, a collection of mementos, or a photo collage.
Kids can spend plane, train, bus or car trips writing on postcards or coming up with ideas to include in their travel journal. They can also be distracted during long wait times for activities by taking photos or looking for mementos to take home with them.
On top of these tips, it’s also really important for your mental and physical wellbeing that you organize to have some time to yourself while you’re away on holidays. Plan ahead for a few hours when you can spend time without the kids; trade babysitting time with your partner or other adults that might be traveling with you. Alternatively, if going it alone, book in a babysitter to look after the young ones while you head off for a massage, a long walk, a yoga session or whatever else might help you to de-stress.
If you’re traveling internationally with kids, be sure to check out our post on 15 Helpful Tips For Traveling Abroad With Kids.
Information is provided as a guest post.