Under 5? Yup, children under 5 years old. Children who take No as a challenge. Babies who cannot sit through a take-off without screaming their heads off. Toddlers who do the Number 2 when you are going through the strict immigration checks.
Does travelling with children mean losing your sanity and wishing for the trip to end before it even starts? Well, we have to be honest with you. It can turn out that way, and it can also turn out the other.
Here are 6 tips to make your travel feel more of a holiday and less of chaos and mayhem.
1. Night Flight
If you have that 12 hour flight planned, fret not. Sure, it is not going to be the easiest start, but most starts tend to get a bit jerky anyway. With a bit of planning, you can iron out the kinks.
Try to opt for a night flight, if possible. Short of sneaking in cough medicine in their milk, your next best hope is to wait for them to give in to their biological clocks and sleep most of the flight away. Naps in the day should not be missed, or they may be too tired to get a good sleep in the plane. Stick to routine. If necessary, bring along their favourite pillow for a touch of home.
2. Baby Carriers
This option is becoming very popular on travels because it allows the parent to have both hands remaining free to carry bags, or to mind another child. Carrying your child close to you also makes the child feel safe and comfortable, despite being in an unfamiliar place and weather. And if you decide to climb a cave or hike a mountain with your child in tow (well, we don’t question other people’s decisions), then a baby carrier is definitely something you would choose over a stroller. It is light, and a decent one does not cost much these days.
But for the dads, we wouldn’t recommend the pink one with butterfly prints…
3. Vomit Bags
As much as this topic doesn’t sound (or smell) pretty, most parents have learned that with some children, you don’t leave home without it. Some children do tend to get sick easily and failing to recognize (and prepare for) this may yield certain undesirable outcomes during the trip.
If we need to emphasize the importance of vomit bags more, let us tell you the story of the mother who fed her child cheese and milk for breakfast before the day tour, clueless of the long spiral road towards Mornington Peninsula at Australia. To cut it short, the mother had to spend most part of the day with clothes reeking of bad cheese until they could return to the hotel. Do not underestimate the importance of vomit bags, especially when you are visiting an unfamiliar place.
4. Inspect Accommodation
Do not assume that your accommodation is child-friendly, even if it states so. Once checked-in, do a check on locks on doors and windows to ensure the room is secure. Identify possible hazards such as sharp edges, slippery flooring in the toilet, wobbly fittings. If a room change is not possible, children above 2 years old are generally able to understand warnings and words of caution, though they would need frequent reminders.
The usual meds are a must, such as paracetamol for fever and anti-histamines for the sniffles. However, most people tend to overlook laxatives. Traveler’s constipation can affect children, and a dose of laxatives can nudge the body to get things to ‘move along’.
6. Favourite Snacks
We cannot emphasize this more. Children are happy when they are full and well-rested. If your child loves that particular cereal, just pack a box. There was one parent who brought boxes of Milo drinks. While children should be encouraged to explore new tastes and foods while travelling, if it makes them happy, and makes you sane, just pack the whole kitchen.
So, there you go. Though they may not enjoy being stuck in a stroller while you shop, and you may not enjoy the constant ‘Are we there, yet?’ question, travelling with children can be an excellent way to bond with them. With a bit of give and take, and less Things To Do on your list to be ticked, insya Allah it will be one memorable journey to look back on.
Our team is experienced in bringing children as young as infants to places not known to be child-friendly. Places like ice caves, whale tours, and glaciers are not common attractions for children. However, we believe that nature can be enjoyed by all ages, with proper preparations. If you need more tips on travelling with children, feel free to give us a call.