No matter how much traveling experience you think you have, you need to realize that traveling with young children is a completely different thing. That is why everything must be well planned in advance, so that the journey, and even the holiday itself, can go on without any problems.
Children require a lot of attention and special care. This will make your trips more difficult but there isn’t a thing in the world that will be more valuable to you than the memories you will create together as a family. Here are some great tips for traveling with kids to prepare for making these vacations and journeys more manageable, easy, and the BEST experience you will ever have.
When your baby becomes 3 or 4 months old, it is usually ready for its first trip by any means of transportation. The most comfortable way to travel with kids is by plane; but a car, train or a bus can also be very comfortable if you prepare properly before your trip. The older your children are, the easier it will be to travel with them. You can even get them their own backpacks so they can pack their favorite food, clothes or girls toys and boys toys appropriate for their age that they can be without.
1. If your destination is an exotic one, ask the family pediatrician if it may be necessary for the child to receive a protective vaccine. In any case, a routine check-up with the pediatrician should be wise before departure to ensure that the child is healthy.
2. If your child has a problem with a chronic illness, be sure to find out as much as possible about the climate of the destination of your vacation. Certain climatic conditions have a very bad effect on children with, for example, asthma. Also, if your doctor suggests some preventative measures, be sure to apply them to avoid complications. It is also very important that there is a pediatric service at the place where you travel to.
3. Pack a small personal pharmacy package in addition to sunscreen (both in the summer and winter). It should include patches, bandages, a thermometer, as well as some basic first aid medications. It is also often a very good choice to get medical insurance for both children and parents in case there are some unforeseen situations during the trip.
4. It is better to travel by day as traveling by night with young children is not recommended because many unforeseen circumstances can happen in the dark and with toddlers, this can be a serious problem. It is better to travel during the day and set off on the journey early in the morning when the parents are the most rested. Be sure to bring water and some light dry food to give to the toddler along the way.
5. If the parents know in advance that the child does not tolerate long trips, they should give it some medicine that will reduce any nausea or vomiting half an hour before the trip itself. Bring toys cartoons, music, and other stuff your child find interest in. For example, a tablet might come in handy so your child can play educational games or watch favorite shows, especially if you have one just for this purpose.
6. You will need an empty water bottle that can be filled at faucets you come by. Also, bring snacks and smaller meals as your children need them to maintain a stable blood sugar level. Bring various props like toys, books, paper and crayons, music and so on. Bring lots of different things to get their attention!
7. Be sure to pack several changes of clothing for the baby – as it may throw up, get dirty, etc. And a changing pad that’s easy to pack. If the journey lasts longer than six hours, be sure to make a combination of warm and lighter clothing, as heat during the journey can bother you, so can the cold wave surprise you.
8. Diapers are a good solution – even if your child does not use them anymore. You can buy a few pieces for the trip, as it is more convenient, especially if you drive through sections that are not intended for stops and breaks. You will also need wet and dry wipes.
9. Don’t forget your favorite pacifier and toys – You can also bring multiple pacifiers in case you lose one or you cannot wash it when the baby drops it. Bring along the child’s favorite toys, the ones that you know for sure your child loves, or buy something new to give it along the way, as a surprise, too keep your child interested and happy.
For more information, check out our in-depth guide for traveling with babies.
10. When it comes to older kids, traveling can be more stressful for them. Climate change, a new bed and a different environment can cause mood swings and sleep troubles, resulting in shakiness and nighttime awakening. Fortunately, children adapt to new conditions very easily, so this condition generally lasts for a short time.
11. In order not to drastically change your child’s usual rhythm, choose destinations with the same or approximate time zone, destinations where children will be able to eat the food they are used to, at their usual mealtime. Also, places where they can play and sleep at the same time as they are used to at home.
12. Great tips for traveling with a toddler are that the day before departure, the children should have a good night sleep and their breakfast should be lighter than usual to minimize the possibility of nausea and vomiting. Children should take as much fluid as possible so they don’t dehydrate during the trip. It is best to give them water. A good solution can also be a cold tea with a little honey and a pinch of salt, which will further protect the child from dehydration. Juices containing a lot of sugar should be avoided as they can cause nausea.
13. The children’s immune system is usually weakened by travel fatigue so you should feed your children normally as usual, with large amounts of fruits and vegetables. Regarding the nutrition during your family travels, make sure that your children consume foods they normally eat so that no unforeseen circumstances occur. Often, kids eat lots of ice cream on the holidays, so be equipped with the necessary medicines. Make sure that children always drink bottled water, even if you are informed that the tap water is safe for drinking, as it is often the case that toddlers get diarrhea and vomiting from changing the water source.
14. Follow through your baby’s routine as much as possible. It is very important that the baby eats and sleeps during the journey at the same time as it did at home, and that routine should be maintained throughout the vacation. Watch what your child will drink. Food and water should be sufficient, and it is recommended that they eat lighter food, without much sugar and salt so that they are not thirsty all the time.
Traveling by plane with a baby or toddler can be very stressful, especially if it is their first plane trip, or if you have a fear of flying.
15. A sudden change in pressure during take-off and landing of the aircraft often scares children. Try to solve this by giving the baby a pacifier and the older children some juice boxes. Do not let the children eat anything for an hour before the plane takes off.
16. A well-supplied diaper bag is a must. It should have all the props you may need for your baby during the trip, especially diapers, wipes, formula or milk, depending on how you feed your baby. If you are not breastfeeding, bring some extra food in case the flight is delayed. At the check-in counter, you must make sure that all the baby food, as well as the medicines you have brought, is reported. Also, it would be great to have some kind of dry hand wipes, spare pacifiers as well as toys on hand.
17. A bag for carrying your baby is quite useful for moving around the airport before the flight, especially if you have too much luggage to carry with you or another child. Zip bags are essential for throwing away litter, such as dirty diapers, wipes, food scraps and the like. Bring enough earplugs for yourself and the people around you, as situations, where your baby is crying, can be stressful for everyone.
18. When booking the tickets, keep in mind that it is important to emphasize to the agent that you will be traveling with your baby, as there are some restrictions when flying with infants.
Every vehicle has its advantages and disadvantages, but most people find that traveling by car is the most comfortable and best for both them and their children. Traveling by your car allows you to take more frequent breaks, and make it easier to reach your desired destination.
19. It is more convenient and safer for one parent to sit next to the child. They can give it anything that it needs, change it during the trip, feed it and help it out if the conditions of the road do not allow for a break.
20. Traveling should be fun, not strenuous, so don’t rush to your chosen destination. The journey alone can be interesting and enjoyable. When taking breaks, do not sit around again, but take a walk and move around with your kids.
21. If you have a baby, put milk and food you prepared in your food processor in travel freezers or special bags that will prevent them from spoiling. Bring along the adapted milk formula your baby uses. It is best to prepare milk for each meal, and the so-called containers will be very helpful because you can put the right amount of powdered milk in them to add to the boiling water you bring with you. Bring more sterilized bottles, for as many meals as your baby should have during the journey. Instead of this, you may want to research portable bottle warmers and buying one if you deem it necessary.
22. Protect your child from direct sunlight by placing a safety net on the windshield. The air conditioner should be set to a temperature only a few degrees lower than the outside, to avoid the risk of temperature shock when leaving the car. Regardless of the climate, occasionally open the windows, and keep the baby away from direct sunlight. Take a short break every 2-3 hours and allow your child to walk and freshen up in the outside air.
If you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and go to a mountain during the winter, it can be a good way for kids and parents to have fun. You can have a good time and recharge your batteries while traveling with children.
23. Although sledding is a favorite part of a child’s wintering experience, it shouldn’t take more than half an hour. Also, it is very important to pay attention to the purity of the snow, as children may get the idea to try what it tastes like.
24. Keeping warm on a mountain is a must, especially in the early days. After playing in the snow, warm tea and a change of clothes are essential. Make sure that your child does not sweat in the cold.
25. Don’t be fooled that the winter sunshine is less harmful than the summer sun, on the contrary. Have a protective factor cream and lip balm in your bag. The nose and lips are particularly susceptible to sun damage.
26. Keep in mind that the snow can reflect a lot of light from the sun and get tinted sunglasses with tinted lenses so your child doesn’t have sore eyes or has to blink all the time.
27. When can a child ski? – In countries with mountains and a long skiing tradition, children start skiing as early as the age of two. However, it is not recommended to start “real” skiing before reaching age four.
28. In case that the child gets tired from all the winter activities, take it inside, change its clothes and give it something to eat or drink. A shorter rest outside is alright but the best option is to have a warm cup of tea in one of the resorts cafés.
Images of cheerful families and holiday adventures are recounted and remembered for life. This is only valid if the children are healthy and it is up to the parents to prepare themselves well enough to avoid any danger to the health and safety of the toddler when traveling.
29. Children under one year of age should not be exposed to direct sunlight. The reason is that the baby’s skin is still in its development phase and the entire defence layer is still not formed. The baby can be taken outside in the early morning and evening. Slightly older children (preschoolers and elementary school children) should have a high protection factor of 50+ sunscreen applied. If the child gets sunburns too easily, he or she can easily get a fever and then have to be taken to see the doctor immediately.
30. Children do not have a developed thermoregulation center and therefore cannot, as adults, cope with extremely high and low temperatures. Therefore, they should be protected from prolonged exposure to the sun. In milder cases of sunburn, it is sufficient to take the child to a room where the temperature is normal for a couple of days and give it plenty of fluid. If the symptoms are more severe it is necessary to seek medical help.
31. When it comes to water, it is safest to buy and drink bottled water. To avoid food poisoning, the shelf life of the foods we use should be inspected carefully. Food poisoning begins very violently and abruptly, with abundant multiple vomiting followed by a rare and less frequent stool until it becomes watery. Usually, there is no fever but the child will become dehydrated, weak and fatigued. It is safest to take the child to the doctor.
You won’t be able to take your children to extreme and difficult locations, but some destinations, such as Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, are quite appropriate. With older children and teens, you can choose a more challenging option such as a safari camp in Africa or hiking in the Himalayas.
Remember, an adventure around the world doesn’t just involve multi-stop flights and a backpack. Traveling with an RV camper can be very interesting and flexible, and if you are an adventurous spirit you can also travel by bicycle or sail.
No matter the travel plan, pack only what you need. Bring diapers, baby food, basic wardrobe and cosmetics. You can buy everything on the go, and you’ll probably want to buy some local products.
There are a couple of things that can help you out especially with young children: an umbrella stroller in which toddlers can sleep and be covered in case of strong sun or rain, and for older children: a tablet or laptop filled with educational games and cartoons for those moments of boredom. If you are traveling by airplane, pack all the essentials you will need for the first day or two in a bag. You don’t want to have to unpack your luggage all the time; or in the case of losing it, you will need to have the essentials to function normally until it can be found.
Allow children to participate in the decision-making every day and that will make the trip more fun. Ask them what they think they should do or visit. Encourage them to write a diary or draw the places they have seen. You can even buy a children’s camera to let them capture the surroundings from their perspective. Kids love to feel that they are in charge and that they were to thank for the great vacation that you all had.
Your travel pace may be slower than when you were traveling without children. Most kids will not be happy to run around just to see the most popular sights. They will usually be most interested in theme parks, zoos or places where there are fun activities to do. Expect to spend time at pools, themed restaurants, circuses and arcades. This certainly does not mean that the whole family won’t be able to enjoy themselves together at such places, just go with it.
If you are traveling with kids that are at a school-age, you will need to devote some time to their learning. Although separated from school, they can find inspiration in the surrounding area. Learn something about art and history by visiting museums and old cities, use market visits for simple math lessons, and explore maps to learn something about the geography of the country you are visiting, or encourage your children to practice the local language.
Exploring the world is learning in itself and children will be able to boast useful practical, social and language skills when they return home.
Getting back to your daily routine when you get home can be quite difficult. Leave time for the children and yourself to slowly prepare for school and work.
If you or your kids fall into post-travel melancholy, make an album or scrapbook, go on an adventure in your area, or start preparing your next big trip. Make sure that your kids will become future world travelers.