Regular readers of this blog will know that we are huge advocates for travelling with little ones. Our motto? Just get out there and see the world. Show the kids too. Travelling broadens the mind and the spirit and opens up so many opportunities for the family, so it only makes sense to pack the bags and go wherever you can, while you can. It doesn't have to be far either. Weekends away, or day trips round and about the UK are just as fabulous for enriching lives and for wonderful memory making too.
So, with that in mind, we've got five more super duper tips for travelling with babies, toddlers and older ones this summer.
Packing can be the most stressful part of travelling with kids, and it pays to start as early as possible. Who remembers having to wear clothes from the back of their wardrobe up to two weeks before they went on holiday as a kid? There's a reason why your mum started packing early- it makes sense to be organised! Here are a few more tips to help you pack:
- Write a list. On that list, write down everything that you sensibly need for your holiday. Then put it away until the morning. When you read through it again the next day, take out items that you know you probably won't need. Remember that less is more! This needs to be done at least a week before you travel, and always always always before you go anywhere near a suitcase!
- Let the kids share a case. There's really no need for everyone to have their own bag. Hand luggage/ back pack is fine, but clothes can share the space while you travel.
- Only pack one outfit per day, per child, and just two spare outfits. Really, thats all you need.
- Take an empty plastic bag for laundry.
- Pack your child's comforters. Believe me, you won't want to leave these at home!
Make sure you pack well in advance of your travels, but not so far in advance so that you have nothing to wear for days! And tick off items from your list as you go.
Organise the fun
Ok, so fun isn't usually organised, but if you want to keep the kids occupied during your travels then you need to plan something in advance. Don't rely on iPads and comics, because most kids will tire pretty quickly if this is all you have to offer. If you have a long journey ahead of you, why not fill a binder with things to do? Printable, games, colouring pages etc are a great idea. An empty notebook is also a good idea for older kids as they can journal their holiday, and if they leave spaces you can stick in photos when you get home.
Card games are good- lego not so much. Make sure you leave small, fiddly bits at home and if you're taking things that need batteries, don't forget the batteries! And while you're at it, make sure there are lots of snacks to hand too. Travelling makes kids hungry!
Make a checklist for your journey
Whether you're flying, sailing or driving, you need to be prepared, so make a checklist and keep it with you at all times. Some things will need to be crossed off the day before you depart, and some as you go so keep it somewhere handy where you won't lose it. It's a good idea to have it on your phone, since this is something we tend to keep with us all the time. So what needs to go on your checklist?
- Departure times of flights, trains, boats etc. You also need to note the time you need to leave the house to get to your mode of transport too, allowing for traffic, stops and other emergencies. In other words, allow more than enough time to get to the airport!
- Check your departure times before you travel to make sure there have been no last minute changes
- Check your passports and visas etc are present and correct
- If you're flying, check in as soon as possible. If you can do this the night before (depending on how close to the airport you are) its a great idea. You can also check in online sometimes too. Always worth doing if you're travelling with kids.
- Check the weather where you're going. It might be a very British thing to do, but you want to make sure your carefully crafted plans are going to go ahead once you get there- plus you might need to pack a few alternative outfits if you're travelling in the UK and the weather changes, as it has been known to do!
- Research your airport/ train station etc. Is there anything to amuse the kids in the event of a delay?
- Have you got enough money to see you through your journey?
Of course, you'll have your own items to add to your checklist- the point is that you make one and keep it handy to stay ahead of the game.
Count the pennies
When you travel with kids it can quickly become very costly. Now this is not a problem if you've allowed for this, but if you're travelling on a budget you might want to do as much as you can to stay on track while you're away. Here are some tips to help:
- Allocate a certain amount of spending money for each day, and stick to it. Depending on the age of the kids, you can give them their spends to take care of themselves. But in addition remember that you'll need extra money each day for travel, food, drinks etc. So take into account what you're likely to need, then add a little extra on each day. That way if you're under budget you're likely to feel pretty pleased with yourself!
- Take a credit card for emergencies. There's nothing worse than being away from home and completely stuck.
- Research your destination as much as possible before you travel. There are a surprising amount of free activities to do that you might not be aware of. It helps to speak to locals too if you can, so that you can find out about festivals and other events that are free of charge while you're there.
- Buy your tickets for travel and other excursions as far in advance as possible, taking advantage of special offers and deals if you can.
- Check your mobile phone contract for usage while you're travelling. The last thing you want is to be hit with a huge bill when you return.
- Set some ground rules with the kids on souvenirs. It can be hard not to spend lots of money on toys and other bits and pieces, so maybe agree that you'll have one day where you buy treats etc, towards the end of the holiday. Again, older kids can be given their own money to spend.
Take a first aid kit
So so important, especially when you travel with kids. Do not leave home without a first aid kit. What should go in it:
- Plasters/ bandages
- Antiseptic cream
- Antiseptic wipes
- Cotton wool
- Ice pack
- Mosquito repellant
- After sun cream
- Lip salve
- Prescribed medication
And don't forget your SnoozeShade either. You never know when you're going to need some shade!
What are your top tips for travelling with kids?