Travelling together as a family with children can be an immensely rewarding experience, as we found out when we took our three young children on a year-long backpacking trip around Asia.
Family travel can also be challenging and stressful. Not only are you dealing with the changeable plans of a trip away from home, but you have tiny people whose routines and expectations are often changed and challenged.
I know a few people who have said that they won’t travel with their kids, particularly by air, because the thought of meltdowns or ‘things going wrong’ is just too stressful.
There can certainly be those ‘why did we bother?!’ moments (we’ve had plenty; enough to write a top 10 worst travel with kids moments post!) but overall I’d say that travelling with children is well worth the effort and there are plenty of great places to travel with kids all over the world.
There are also some easy ways to try and prevent family members getting too tired, stressed or cranky, so I thought I’d share these 5 ways to make travel with children stress-free:
Book Flights Around Sleep Times
When we were full-time travelling with a 2, 5 and 6 year old, we booked our long haul flights overnight. This meant that our kids were tired as they got onto the plane, and after a snack and a bit of in-flight entertainment, they were generally tired enough to settle down and sleep for most of the flight.
You may wish to try a portable bed such as the Jet Kids Bed Box to make a comfy bed for your little one on a night flight (or for nap times!)
Pre Book Airport Transfers
Oh, my goodness. I don’t know how I can adequately express how much I recommend booking your transfer from the airport to your accommodation, before you leave home for your trip.
There are few things worse than turning up at the airport with tired, overstimulated children and having to navigate through a sea of people offering overpriced taxi rides- or worse still, arriving to find there is no way to get a safe transfer.
Carry plenty of snacks
If we as adults get grouchy when we’re hungry, it is almost always worse when a child hits that low blood sugar zone. Combined with dry aeroplane air, a new environment, tiredness and excitement, you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for an epic hangry meltdown.
Snacks that we always carry with us when travelling with kids include Cheerios threaded on a string (takes little ones ages to eat so it doubles up as an activity!), fruit salads in Tupperware, sandwiches and small cheese snacks like Babybels. We also pack a small box of raisins and a small pack of sweets- they are good if you need a distraction but too much sugar when you’re travelling makes you feel ‘ick’ so we avoid too many treats.
If you’re looking for plant based snacks, check out this guide on the best vegan travel snacks.
Drinking a ton of water also helps with dehydration that comes as part of air travel, so pack a water bottle each and don’t hesitate to ask an airline attendant for a refill as mid-flight drinks are expensive!
Pre-book a parking spot
Booking a parking spot a few days ahead of departure ensures smoother travel and minimising the risk of missing your flight. It also feels like a total life win when you get back to your home airport and you jump straight into the car instead of hanging around for a taxi or lugging bags on trains and buses!
Flying from busy hubs like London, New York or Miami calls for the need to book a parking spot at your preferred location. By using services such as Parkos Miami Airport to pre-book your parking spot, you can keep your car safe and conveniently located until you get home. Simples!
Take A Change Of Clothes
We have been covered in puke, poop and all kinds of drinks and sauces during travel mishaps. One of my worst ever travel moments (TMI alert) was when my youngest, aged 1, had diarrhoea just as we were about to take off for a 4-hour flight, all over my white linen trousers.
They went see-through and absolutely stank the plane out, and I have always packed a change of clothes for me in my hand luggage, as well as for our kids, since! If there is more than one adult travelling with you, keep all your ’emergency’ type items in one carry on, and all your snacks and entertainment in the other.
That way, you only need to pull one bag out unless you end up needing the back up!
Preload Movies and Songs Onto Your Phone Or iPad
I thought I was being a really cool, laid-back parent when I boarded our 13 hour flight to Singapore with Norwegian Airlines without our electronic devices. I had decided the kids could just use the in-flight movies and games as well as the magazines and toys we’d brought with us.
Well, when the announcement came that the screens weren’t working, I didn’t feel so cool and laid back. The moral of the story? Get those favourite movies and songs onto a device, and bring back-up charging facilities such as a battery pack. You’ll thank yourself later.
I hope this quick guide to making travel with kids stress-free has been helpful. I’d love to hear your hacks for travelling with little ones so feel free to let me know in the comments how you prepare for your family journeys!