12 Top Tips for Travel with Kids
As someone who loves to hop on a plane and fly off and takes the opportunity to do so at every turn, the advent of parenthood did much to change my routine. Mostly for the better. The arrival of my daughter was the best day of my life but I have to confess that as new parents my wife and I did feel some reticence about our future ability to see the world with the same careless abandon and gusto.
On our first big family trip, however – two months in Chile and Argentina where our daughter went from a chubby, bubbly six-month-old to a chubby, bubbly eight-month-old – our concerns were quickly put to rest. Thanks, in no small part, to these dozen tips.
Take it slow
With kids in tow, stop and smell the roses. Pencil in downtime, not just for them but for yourselves. A good tip, frankly, for solo travellers with a tendency to cram too much into one day as well.
Consider a home exchange
Parents generally have to cut costs more than non-procreators. A home exchange – so easy now with the Internet and social media – helps.
Rely on the kindness of strangers
My tendency is to try to do it all and refuse assistance, even with bags, a pram and a baby. You have to lose that attitude as a parent, especially in a foreign country. I will never forget, for example, the kindness of strangers at the ferry terminal in Montevideo who, with much insistence, let us jump the line and get a comfortable row for the ride to Buenos Aires. In general, people will rush to coddle and help parents with wee ones if they allow it.
Meet and assist
Most airports offer meet and assist services for parents with newborns to infants. Take advantage.
Invest in some choice gear
My holy trinity: a sturdy travel buggy, comfortable carrycot and multi-purpose diaper bag.
Plan it out
One helpless baby is much more submissive than a brood of sprites who can walk and talk. With that, no matter how innocuous the scenario, designate a spot to meet up in case someone gets lost. Better yet, try to stay together at all times. It may seem paranoid but as someone who once spent two hours on the hunt for a lost cousin in Disney World, I can tell you that it is well worth it to plan and be aware of your environs.
Ask for discounts
Everywhere and every time you book a ticket.
From clothes made with natural fibres to toys and personal care products, natural is the best way to stay healthy.
This relates to the ‘take it slow’ maxim. In the same vein, literally, is the need to hydrate. Kids dry up faster than adults so remember to stop and take sips of water while you run all over town.
Sit down for your three squares
You ate on your feet while a poor student backpacker a decade ago but now you have a baby and/or kids. Inculcate good healthy, habits. Sure, you want your son to have your stalwart spirit and sense of adventure but for mercy’s sake, pull up a stool in that osteria and order him a sandwich. The rest of Rome can wait.
Sure, you may want to spend the day in the Louvre but your kids will probably lose it after one hour in the decorative arts wing. Strike a balance, mix it up and choose child and family-friendly stuff to do.
Let them document it
Even before they can write, parents can inspire wee ones to chronicle the events of the day with crayons and paper or, delicately now, with the family digital camera. The point: when you involve your kids in the trip, even at a tender toddler age, it gives them a valuable sense of pride and responsibility. And this bodes well for their prospects as future globetrotters.