Travelling with kids
Travelling with kids
We have taken a few trips as a family, but plenty more as a kidless couple (so much easier, but not nearly as fun!). But as a hacker and organiser from way back, if something can be done to make life easier, especially when I am out of the comfort zone of my house, then I am your gal!
Below are my top tips for travelling with kids to make your holidays easier, less stressful and more relaxing. Hopefully you get some handy hints for you next trip!
Pack a power board - kids come with all the shit - iPads, games, bedtime music, monitors and add in our phones, straighteners and whatever else we need - that's a crap load of electronics. So, if you don't want to buy a crap load of international adapters, you just get one or two and pack a few power boards - everything charged up and Bob's your uncle!
Snacks - pack as many snacks as you can, especially if you're holidaying internationally. USA food is flipping expensive and sugar loaded, while other country's food may not be fitting to your kiddo's taste. Also - kids eat all bloody day, so pack what you need in your onboard/car bag and bulk those snacks up in your checked luggage. (Just don't forget to declare it all!)
Organise your bags - if you're travelling by car, you will almost always need a 'front seat bag' which should have food, tissues, wipes, baby needs, chargers, car sick meds, drink bottles and spare clothes. If you're travelling by plane, make sure all of this is in your onboard luggage. But remember liquids need to be under 100ml and all fit into a ziplock bag and your drink bottles need to be empty for customs, but you can refill once through at the airport water fountains. With babies though, you are allowed sealed water, formula and juice. Be sure to check your airline for specifics. Buying packing cubes and using them to separate and contain each person's clothes, shoes, medicines, snacks, nappies, chargers etc is a packing hack that just makes my life! Just be sure you know where everything is and that it's all in the right place for access when you need it.
Kids travel bags - there are so many cool travel bags for kids these days - rolly ones, ride on ones, ones that even you roll and strap the kid on #utterbrilliance. Depending on your kids and their ages, tendencies to run and independence to roll their own bags will determine your choices. We simply used matching roller bags that had all their toys, headphones, books, snacks and iPads for the flight. They were small enough to fit under the seat on the flight and meant any time we were waiting in airports, they had free reign to pull out what they wanted and entertain themselves.
Kiosk check in - do it! Gosh, we skipped the line of about 200 people by simply checking ourselves in at the kiosk before we checked our bags. It's so easy and self explanatory, you're mad not to do it and save yourself some time. Online check in is now a thing too, before you even arrive at the airport. So maybe get on that?
Lego Busy Bags - these are game changers! We have the most amazing travel lego packs from Jilly Jumbles. She makes so many awesome sanity savers and these have been on every holiday with us for the last two years. They're easy for the kids to handle so they pull them out at airports and on the plane themselves. They're small, have a zip and clip button which makes them safe to chuck in your handbag. We take them with us to all the dinners and lunches we go to on holiday so the kids are entertained when the adults are busy eating, drinking and chatting. Must buys!
Kids headphones - you need to take these on your flights, the shitty ones the attendants give you are not conducive with little ears. Don't make this mistake.
Labelled passports - ah, I did not do this, but my smarty pants sister did. Families and their million passports make for chaos and shuffling at every checkpoint. For next time, I will be using a labeller or a sticker to chuck on the back of each passport for easy navigating.
Book a night flight - if possible, night flights are a godsend for kids - as long as you can keep them up until boarding. It just makes for some guaranteed hours when you know they will be sleeping.
Book kids meals - ahhh I did not do this! I was a rookie who was misinformed. Stupidly (but obviously) I expected a child's plane ticket would automatically include a child's plane meal. Well, apparently it absolutely does not. What a joke! So, our boys were stuck eating (read: not eating) shit adult plane food when the kids beside them had poppers, cute kids toys,a fruit bag and a kid friendly sweet snack for after their kid appropriate meal. Think a Maccas Happy Meal but 30,000 feet up. You apparently need to book these meals at the time of ticket booking. It was not obvious to me when I booked ours, it wasn't a pop up option or alerted question - so good luck.
Suck lollies - have a stash of lollies, lollipops or chewy in your carry on for the kids to suck or chew during take off and landing. This helps with popping ears, but also keeps them a bit distracted with the excitement of lollies to think about the jump in their belly.
Always pack spare clothes - without a doubt, at least on summer holidays, the kids (or you even) will need spare clothes at some point or another. Whether it's water fountains at lunch, a sporadic beach stop or a spilt cup of lemonade all over mum's lap - children will always find water and mess. Spare clothes in the on board luggage, the front seat bag and backpacks for daily outings are essential.
Book transfers - always book ahead with transfers. Airport shuttles, pre-booked cabs or a private car make for stress free arrivals and departures, especially with kids. If you need car seats, be sure to request those too.
Extra swimmers - summer holidays call for more than one visit to the beach or pool each day. Extra swimmers mean that you won't be pulling on wet, sticky swimmers from the morning dip.
Book appropriate accomodation - always book accommodation that is suitable to your needs. Obviously location is a big calling card, but we always make sure our rooms have a fridge, a microwave, cupboards for longer stays (beats living out of bags for a week) and ample living space for all the crap.
Buy food basics - while eating out is delish and indulgent, we pick which meals we eat out strategically. As I am sure you agree, 3 meals out a day is just plain stupid with kids who need to be entertained every waking minute. So, we always do a basic grocery shop when we arrive with all the essentials - cereal, milk, bread, butter, fruit, tea, snacks & more snacks. We eat breakfast in our hotel most mornings which saves money and sanity, then fill up our day bags with on the go snacks.
Extra hands - if you can swing it, or it falls your way, holidaying with other people is sometimes less stress than holidaying alone. More hands, more heads, more eyes on kids with all the extra adults and chuck a bunch of kids in a pool or hotel room together that aren't siblings and amazingly, they tend to fight less, bicker less and stay away from the adults more. Win, bloody win.
Brekkie in to save money & sanity
Palm off the parental responsibility to fellow adults
Holiday with a crew for less stress
Hopefully you go away from this blog with something that is helpful or insightful.
Wherever you're off too, bloody enjoy!