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Navigating Family Adventures: Tricks and Tips for Travelling with Kids

Travelling with kids can be a rewarding experience. It allows children to see new places, experience different cultures, and learn about the world around them. However, travelling with kids is not without its challenges! Whether travelling abroad or exploring Australia, visiting new destinations with your little ones can create lasting memories, but it’s essential to plan ahead and be well-prepared. Here are some tips to help make your next family holiday a success.

Plan ahead

Thorough planning is key for a smooth journey. Research family-friendly destinations and accommodations, and ensure your itinerary includes age-appropriate activities. Many places accommodate children, but it’s important to choose a destination that interests them and caters to their needs. Some destinations may require certain travel documents for children, so check the requirements beforehand and allow enough time to obtain any necessary documentation. This will save you from any last-minute stress or disappointment at the airport.

Try to keep a routine

Travelling can often disrupt a child’s routine, leading to crankiness and exhaustion. To avoid this, try to plan your trip around their usual schedule. This means scheduling naps, meals and bedtimes at the same time as you would at home. If your child is used to an afternoon nap, it might be best to plan activities during the morning so they can rest later in the day. Keeping a routine will also help your child adjust to different time zones more easily. Booking flights during nap times or driving during the night can also help minimise disruptions to your child’s routine.

Pack wisely

pack wisely when you travel

Packing efficiently is crucial when travelling with kids! Make a checklist of essentials, including clothing, medications, and comfort items. Don’t forget to pack snacks and entertainment for the journey. Having a separate and easily accessible bag with diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes will save you time during unexpected situations. It’s also a good idea to pack an extra outfit for yourself, just in case. Sometimes you will need to wear some of your clothing instead of packing it (yes, that is us above wearing the things we couldn’t pack!)

On-the-go entertainment

It’s no surprise that children may get a little restless after a few hours of travelling. You can remedy this by bringing a variety of activities to keep your kids entertained throughout the journey. Consider packing colouring books, puzzles, favourite toys, or electronic devices loaded with age-appropriate games or movies. This can help distract them during long flights or car rides. A fun option for road trips is to play car games to pass the time. Another fantastic way to keep your children entertained and engaged during travel is through educational apps. Many apps are designed to be interactive and fun, covering a wide range of subjects from languages and science to maths and art.

Snack attack

A delightful trip can quickly turn challenging when dealing with hungry and cranky kids. While adults may be accustomed to waiting for designated meal times, it’s well-known that young ones might not necessarily possess the same level of patience. For a smoother journey, pack a variety of snacks that are easy to access and won’t create too much mess. Consider options like cut-up fruits, granola bars, and crackers, providing a mix of sweet and savoury treats to cater to different taste preferences and help maintain stable energy levels. It might be a good idea to steer clear of sugary treats, as they can lead to bouts of hyperactivity and subsequent crashes.

Be prepared for mishaps

Travelling in Vietnam

Even with the most meticulous planning, mishaps and travel complications can still arise. According to the Australia Post travel team, nearly half of domestic claims result from cancellations or travel delays. With this in mind, considering suitable travel insurance options might help you in these situations. Travel insurance can also provide medical coverage in case of accidents or sickness, which is especially important when travelling with younger children, offering an added layer of protection and financial security during your journeys.

Include kids in the planning

Make your children active participants in the trip-planning fun! Not only does this give them a thrilling sense of involvement and excitement for the adventure, but it also imparts valuable planning skills. Dive into discussions about the destination, exciting activities, and any special treats awaiting them. Letting them contribute to the itinerary also helps foster a feeling of inclusion, which might make them more likely to be cooperative and fully engaged throughout the journey.

Build breaks into the schedule

Travelling can be jam-packed, trying to fit everything in and make the most of your experience. However, it’s important to create a realistic travelling schedule for children that includes appropriate breaks. Plan rest stops during road trips, and schedule downtime during your daily activities. This allows children to recharge, reducing the likelihood of meltdowns and tantrums. It also allows them to process and reflect on all the new experiences they’re having. With so many new sights, travelling can be overwhelming, so keep in mind that some relaxation time will benefit everyone. Breaks are a great time for parents to relax and recharge as well.

Safety first

Prioritise safety by keeping identification information on your child and carrying a small first aid kit. Familiarise yourself with the nearest medical facilities at your destination. If travelling internationally, check vaccination requirements and ensure your child’s immunisations are up to date. It’s also important to check any additional vaccinations that may be needed for specific regions. Have a plan in place for emergencies and make sure your child knows what to do if they get lost or separated from you.

Be flexible

Unexpected challenges are sometimes unavoidable, especially during travel. Stay flexible and adaptable, and be prepared to alter your plans if necessary. A positive attitude and the ability to go with the flow can turn a potential setback into an adventure. Children often have a natural curiosity and can be great at adapting to new situations, so take advantage of their flexibility and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations or try new activities. Remember, it’s not about checking off a list of tourist attractions but instead creating memorable experiences for your family.

Successfully travelling with kids requires a blend of preparation, flexibility, and patience.  We hope these tips and tricks help you create a more enjoyable and memorable experience for your family travel. Don’t be afraid to take it slow and adjust your itinerary if needed. Embrace the adventure, and savour the joy of exploring the world together as a family.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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