The prospect of going on a child-friendly vacation with kids can feel overwhelming at times – you’ve got an itinerary to stick to, a flight to catch (if you’re going abroad), an endless packing list and the challenges of keeping everyone entertained during the journey. With the right preparation, here’s how to overcome these obstacles so that the whole family can enjoy their time away.
Don’t forget your children’s must-haves, whether you’re vacationing with a teenager, children or babies. For younger children, pack a couple of their favorite books and toys, a comfort blanket for the trip, and a first-aid kit should they feel unwell. Packing cubes are your best friend to maximise space in your suitcase, and are available from most major retailers. This is also helpful if you are staying in multiple hotels or have stopovers during your trip, as you can separate your luggage into different sections. Also pack a travel-sized tube of laundry detergent so you can wash clothes on the go if need be.
Book the right accommodation for your needs
An all-inclusive resort can offer you plenty of on-site entertainment, buffet food galore with family-friendly favorites, and a kids’ club or a pool with water slides. Property rentals are also a good option, especially if you are on a tighter budget. A villa will give your family more space than a hotel room, and having a kitchen will save on costs for eating out. Both options have pros and cons, so it’s worth thinking about what’s best for you. Once the kids are in bed, is there ample space for the adults to relax in a small hotel room? Do you also want to provide your own meals and entertainment? Or have that taken care of on a resort complex?
Consider family interests before booking a destination
Before you decide on where to go, think about what you’d like to do as a family. Do you want a beach escape? A city break? Or do get into the great outdoors in nature? Consider nearby theme parks and attractions, how children are accommodated within the local culture, and the location of your hotel or holiday home and how you will get around to points of interest.
Savour a stopover
When travelling with kids, you should always think about convenience and making life easier. Sure, your flight may be cheaper if it’s direct, but when you’re trying to settle a screaming child, a stopover to give everyone a break might come as a welcome relief. If you’re travelling long distances, particularly for eight hours or more, consider taking two flights, as this will give little ones the chance to stretch their legs, play and run around.
Don’t force fussy eaters
If your child is finding it difficult to adjust to the new cuisine at your destination, don’t try and force new foods upon them. Be a little more flexible with what they can eat, and let them have a few more treats like ice cream, while keeping fresh healthy snacks like fruit and nuts to hand. Try to spark their interest when they see you eating new foods, as eventually they may also be open to eating them, too.
Overcome jet lag
If your trip has taken you to a different country with a whole new time zone, your kids may find it difficult to adjust their sleep patterns accordingly. This is because their circadian rhythm isn’t properly established. If you are travelling east to Europe or beyond, have your kids go to sleep an hour or two hours before their normal bedtime, and wake them up one or two hours earlier. If you are travelling west to the Caribbean or Americas, reverse this so they go to bed later and wake up later.
Be prepared for possible travel sickness
It isn’t uncommon for kids to fall ill when travelling long distances abroad. Pack a first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic ointment, mosquito prevention and a thermometer, as well as medications for pain, itching, allergic reactions and upset stomach/rehydration. Familiarise yourself with the emergency number equivalent for 911 and a hospital where you are staying, and ensure that you have travel insurance with comprehensive medical cover for your whole family.
You should always be prepared for bumps along the way when travelling with kids, but by making these few preparations and implementing some savvy packing, the whole family should be able to enjoy the journey.