Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Kids

I remember my childhood, my mum would go out and lock us in. Relax! She would leave the door unlocked and padlock the gate because she hated the stress of commuting or travelling with us.
P.s: she always left the Keys with the neighbours for safety purpose.
Fast-forward to 20 years later and I get it.
Commuting and travelling with Kids is a hassle.
I have had a few people email me to ask about a few of my trips and particularly tips and advices that I can give them regarding travelling with kids. Most people are always super concerned especially about safety and utilities.
I have had to travel with family along with my nieces and God children a couple of times and these brings me to this article.
Just this December I had to deal with one of those trips as well as a 1-year-old niece whose food brand was just not readily available and so she had nothing much to eat for almost two days till we found a brand she liked a bit. Just because we ran out.
I am aware that there are two kinds of kids, the ones who want to be in charge and do things themselves, and those who are dependent. One thing these two categories have in common is that they both can be very restless.

So here are a few tips to employ when travelling with kids; I have broken them down in travelling stages for ease.
-          Research: Every travel experience begins with this at least for me. When you decide to travel, start by first researching about your destination, finding out about flight booking, hotel reservations and attractions to see. Read on the culture, laws and regulations as well as reviews of your destination. Check to make sure that all your intentions and proposed plans are achievable.

-          Planning: Oh, yes I’m assuming you plan before all your trips. I can’t stress this enough. Once you are done researching, it’s time for Planning. For me this is always the way to go. It includes drawing up an itinerary especially one that includes and prioritizes the kids, from the activities they can participate in to parks they can visit, shopping lists if any as well as the easiest way to keep them busy. While planning, draw up lists. Shopping lists, packing lists, and so on.

-          Packing: When it comes to packing for trips with kids, always ensure you pack light and pack Essentials. I will recommend one hand luggage per person which should include essentials like food (depending on the age of the child), snacks, supplies, games & medicines. Ensure you bring anything that could break their routines or send them into tantrums. Always come with their favourite stuffed animal and if that’s too big bring the smaller alternative.

-          Travel /Flights: Booking flights that depart and arrive at the best times possible to reduce your stress is the ultimate way to go. For instance I would say for flights to usa, consider booking night flights that arrive in the day so they can sleep through most of the journey. Book in time. Choose seats and befriend the flight attendants to ensure that you get as much help as you might need. Also plan potty breaks and use diapers for smaller kids.

-          Accommodation: If you aren’t staying with family and can afford to book a bed and breakfast or rent a home, That’s the way to go. It allows for a controlled environment and improves safety. If you choose a hotel however, ensure that its child friendly. Children will be children so you want to ensure there is minimized chance of an accident. Don’t take a room that’s on a higher floor or one that opens to a pool and all. Ensure that the accommodation is simple and doesn’t have too much going on. As well as keep dangerous items away from their reach. Book your accommodation before time and include airport transfers if they offer that service.

-          Feeding: If your child has dietary needs or has a particular brand they are accustomed to, make sure you plan and pack for this. Always ensure you have two times much more than you need just in case. Also make sure to avoid sugar as much as possible to ensure they don’t have stomach aches or get hyper. Take extra caution of their food and water as kids are more fragile than adult when it comes to food and if possible, Don’t experiment or let them try new meals.

-          Commuting: Two of the best things I can advise is that you hire a car and travel with your stroller. There is so much ease with both situations. When it comes to hiring a car, if that doesn’t work, use a cab services like uber to commute. It not just ensures safety, it’s also very convenient. Also travelling with your stroller, ensures that those commutes within spaces like airports, hotels, malls, lobbies and sights are easy to access and comfortable. For instance, you don’t have to carry a child care bag if you have one of those strollers that has compartments and pouches.

-          Sight Seeing: The easiest way to travel with kids, is to plan activities around them and like my sister said, Plan to enjoy those activities with them, Don’t moan, Have fun. Let your plan/itinerary include amusement parks and kid activities. Ensure they have clean utilities so you can take potty stops especially for toddlers. If you plan to shop, make a list and stick to it or shop online for yourself. Shopping for them would be a better idea and more fun as they can try the clothes on and communicate their thoughts. Hire a tour guide if you have never been to the destination and want to see landmarks.

-          Safety:  When people ask me if a place is safe for kids, my first thought is usually that nowhere is safe. Whether for kids or adults, everywhere comes with its threats if you don’t ensure to be security conscious. My first tip when travelling especially with Kids is always carry a mini first aid box. Always ensure that toddlers have your information on them and that you have eyes on them at all time. Realize that you are not in familiar environment and children are easily fascinated so ensure you hold them when in public spaces and have them around at all times in parks. If the Kids are older, always ensure you set boundaries as well. And lastly, Be Vigilant.

-          Relax & Enjoy: Once All these steps above are religiously observed, ensure that you relax and enjoy your trip. When the kids are sleeping, take me times, soak yourself in a bath, visit the spa, sauna or Jacuzzi and have that much needed alone time. If you have an adult co-traveler, Alternate Me times by taking an hour/day or two to do your own personal adult things. Take pictures for keep sakes. Make memories with them and just take it all with an open mind.
This post is pretty much a love letter to my future self as well as a guide to make your lives easier when travelling with kid. Don’t be like my mum who dreaded taking kids out when you can manage the situation and still have a fun vacation.

Let me leave you with this, when traveling with kids, Expect the best, Plan for the worse and be open and prepared for surprises.

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