Let's face facts. Travelling with children is not for the faint hearted. But it is also one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences that a family can have. Exposing our kids to new cultures, customs and landscapes helps us to shape them into creative, inquisitive beings. And travelling with kids opens doors too. It widens their vocabulary, introduces them to new tastes and textures and helps to foster an appreciation for the world around them. All that, and you're building memories that will stay with them forever too. So yes, travelling with kids is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Here are our top travel hacks for busy parents- hopefully they'll help things run a little more smoothly overall.
Before we start... don't stress.
Make this your mantra. It really isn't worth spending all that money and time away from home of you are going to take your baggage with you. Let your guard down a little if you need to. Whatever it takes to choose a smile rather than a frown. Being stressed during your travels is not a good place to be! As @2point4travel says, go with the flow! Although a plan is good, trying to stick to it rigidly with kids in tow just adds an extra layer of stress. And you don't need stress.
Be prepared for your journey with activities and toys
Let's start with the most obvious. Kids get bored easily. And long journeys can be boring. So if your kids aren't sleeping, you don't want them complaining or fussing either. Make the journey work for you! @MummyJourno recommends a good mix of cheap toys/ activity packs that you pull out once an hour ( or at regular intervals, depending on the age of the child) to keep boredom levels at bay. We love this idea. It works!
Kids come with a lot of stuff! Remember that if you're going somewhere hot, you won't need as many clothes as usual, but it's still likely your little ones will need more changes of clothes than you each day. And if there are no washing facilities where you're going, you need to pack wisely.
Roll clothes instead of folding them- you'll fit more in.
Place a tumble dryer sheet inside the suitcase to keep everything smelling fresh and clean.
Pack phone chargers and ipad cables in an old glasses case- this will keep them safe from little hands and less likely to tangle.
Put underwear and socks inside shoes to save even more space.
Handle the airport with ease
Sometimes flights are delayed and there is nothing we can do to prevent that. If you do find yourself spending longer than you planned in the airport, try these hacks to get through it all in one piece.
Make sure you have plenty of food and water with you so that you don't need to buy expensive meals from the airport. This will also eliminate tantrums.
Save an empty water bottle to refill once you're through airport security.
Use a trunki for the kids' hand luggage so that they can have a free ride when they get tired. And you don't need to carry their bags, or THEM!
Use an empty DVD case as a coloruing kit. Paper in one side, pencils in the other.
Have a few 'goody bags' made up for good behaviour/ the winner of eye spy etc.
Create a home from home
We know you're away from home, but human beings are creatures of comfort- especially kids. It will help them to settle in on holiday if they have a sense of security that comes with familiar items- so try the following to make life easier for you all.
Take a night light with you. You don't know what the sleeping quarters are going to be like, and battery operated lights are handy for night travelling too.
Take a shower tidy bag with you to keep toys in. The mesh bag will make it easier to keep them clean and pop in your beach bag each day, and they'll be easily accessible on journeys too as they can be attached to the back of the seat in front.
Don't forget your little one's favourite teddy/ blanket/ comforter. ESSENTIAL for easy bedtimes on holiday.
What are your top travel hacks for busy parents?