Traveling requires a bit of planning, and if you are going with children especially younger than five years old, it is best to be prepared. As adults, we can adjust to the time difference, erratic schedules, irregular eating easily but kids are generally not so adaptable especially when they are away from the comfort of their homes.
My husband and I love to travel, and even two children did not dissuade us from taking holidays. Depending on their age, we faced different challenges during our travel. When they were babies, we had to focus on ensuring they are fed. As toddlers, it was more challenging as they were not happy to be confined to their prams and had their ideas as to what constitutes fun, but feeding them became easier. Between the age group of 4- 6 years, there were no prams for them to rest when required, became more difficult to please but were more adaptable to new experiences be it food or a place of visit. Here are a few tips that I would like to share that made my children comfortable during our trips and in turn made our holidays more enjoyable.
Travel time: Depending on the time difference and time taken to travel to a place, book the tickets in such a way that impact of the time difference is minimal, e.g., try to reach by evening so that the children can sleep after a long journey and wake up fresher in the morning.
Hunger Pangs: Feeding babies is a challenge as their palette is limited, the bottles need to be sterilized and they need to be fed every 2-3 hours. It is best to carry some packaged baby food that the child prefers and also a small sterilizer. Further, either the hotel can be requested to prepare something for the baby or in case of extended travel, staying in a serviced apartment helps. Toddlers cannot deal with hunger pangs and are not so open to trying new cuisines, though they can eat regular food. It is essential to carry some of their favorite packaged food so that something can be offered to them when hunger strikes. It is ok even if you have only a cheese sandwich or packet of chips or fruit or ice cream to offer. Post 4 years of age they are a lot more flexible to try a variety of cuisines and can manage their hunger pangs. Still always ensure that there not too much gap between meals and more often than not there is some food and beverage to offer them.
Sightseeing and rest: We can walk the whole day and explore the city we are visiting. But children get tired and need some time to relax. Children don’t have the same interests as us. When we travel with babies, they are more often than not comfortable in their prams and can sleep in them as well. We don’t need to entertain them as much, but it helps to carry their favorite toys and intermittently give them space to crawl or walk around. Toddlers are more difficult to entertain as more often than not they are not interested in anything we want to do and neither do they have the patience to wait till we do sight-seeing. So we need to schedule some of the activities suited to them as well. Also, pack some of their favorite toys or activity books so that they are entertained during travel. Children above four years start to take some interests in our activities, but it is best to not pack too much in a day and to give them some time to rest in between the activities.
In spite of some challenges, it is essential to travel with children and expand their horizons. With a little bit of planning to ensure that they are fed regularly, sufficiently entertained and well rested it is possible an enjoyable trip with our young ones.