The Canada Day long weekend has come and gone, and summer is here in force. If travelling with kids is on your agenda this summer, we have tips to see you through.
Before You Go
Plan, plan, plan. Travelling with kids takes some extra planning to ensure everyone has a good time. Order some great guide books from the library and research the internet – there are some fabulous blogs about travelling with kids out there.
Think ahead of some fun activities for the main sights you will be seeing. Kids of all ages love a scavenger hunt and with a little research, they are easy to plan. Using guide books and the internet, make a list of things they could find and give them each a notebook to bring.
Get your weather information straight. No one wants to drag a whole suitcase of the wrong clothing around so check with the local papers or your accommodation hosts before going to get a good picture of what it is going to be like.
Rent it! In terms of accommodation, I highly recommend renting an apartment as opposed to a hotel room when travelling with kids. You will have way more room, a full kitchen and laundry. It’s really great to have somewhere everyone can take a break in the afternoons after a morning of touring. I used Airbnb and was very happy with both of the apartments we rented.
Pack your bags. Lay out everything you want to pack and then try to cut it in half. Trust me. You’ll be happier with space to bring things home and your partner will be happy when they have to carry the bags up stairs. Check ahead to see if your accommodation has laundry – this will make it easier to pack light if you can just pop everything in for a clean whenever you want. Bring lots of large freezer bags. Pack your liquids in them, use them for sandwiches and snacks when touring, collecting souvenirs and for those barfy kids who can’t make it through the winding roads.
Order a children’s meal from the airline. A lot of carriers will offer this and it can be great. Air France’s came with all sorts of food options so my picky eater found something he’d eat and my foodie devoured the whole thing. Fun straws and a cute little bag full of activities to do on the plane kept them happy and busy, and made travelling with kids that much easier.
Getting There in One Piece
Screen time. I have never met a kid who doesn’t love having their own personal television. An eight hour flight is not the time to worry if they are watching too much. New apps on your phone can also make delays in the airport more bearable.
Don’t sweat the jetlag. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it and kids seem to adjust quicker to it than we do. Just expect some extra whining and try to get them on a schedule that works for everyone.
Actually Enjoying Travelling with Kids
Lower your expectations. You are most likely not going to walk 10km a day, sip wine and coffee for hours on the piazza, eat in fancy restaurants or spend hours wandering through art galleries like you did on your honeymoon. Sure you can do some of this stuff, but stop to do kid stuff too – let them play by the fountains, chase pigeons and try out the playgrounds they see. When you’re travelling with kids everyone will have fun if everyone is happy.
Ask for advice. At a loss for where to go or what to eat? Look around for other parents and ask them. I found some great places to eat with the kids in Europe by doing this and the parents were flattered I’d asked.
Give each other a break. Let your sweetie take the kids for the afternoon and you go shopping or to a gallery. Then exchange the favour. It’s really nice to walk around without worrying about who is going to get run over by a scooter for a while.
Hand over the camera. Let your kids take their own photos and videos and make them an album when you get home.
What Happens on the Roundabout, Stays on the Roundabout. That was my mantra in Italy. It’s easy to let your stress levels rise on holiday with unfamiliar driving directions, different languages and increased whining. Leave it at the roundabout, the place where most stress occurs, in Europe at least!
Lastly, have fun! With good planning and relaxed expectations, your family holiday will become a treasured memory for you and your kids.