Traveling with kids for your first time is definitely an experience you’ll never forget! I remember the first time I took Jake on a long trip. I spent 7 hours twisted around because he wanted me to hold his hand. I get car sick if I’m not in the front seat looking straight ahead, so it was a nightmare for both of us.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a complete horror show! Read on for some tips for first-time travelers from my special guest, Harper Reid!
Practical Tips for the First-Time Traveler
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Travelling has the potential to be stressful as is – from unprecedented delays at airports to events like sickness, things rarely go perfectly to plan. If you’re travelling with children, you might be worried that your schedule will get even more skewed, but that doesn’t have to be the case! With a little forward planning, it’s entirely possible to have a successful holiday away with the kids. Check out our first-time travel tips for kids, and you’ll be away.
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Travelling by Land, Sea and Air for the First Time?
Choose your destination carefully. Many parents want to give their children a wonderful holidaying experience for a first-time family holiday – but while this may be a lovely sentiment in the hypothetical, the truth is that your kids are likely to enjoy a city-break in the same state just as much as a far-flung voyage.
Planning a shorter break away in a locale that’s closer to you means that you can avoid painfully-long plane, boat, and car rides, and better yet, you’ll have more money to play around with for activities and excursions. Besides, vacationing closer to home can be a great way of priming yourselves for a more intrepid holiday.
Travelling by Land
Before you can even contemplate a road-trip, it’s a good idea to put your vehicle through a comprehensive road-safety check. The major item on this checklist concerns car seats: with 75% of car seats installed incorrectly, it’s never too pressing to go over the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, keep the car stocked with essentials for a breakdown – water, jumper cables, flashlight, spare tires, extra battery – and renew your road assistance plan.
When it comes to travelling with toddlers in the car (and, for that matter, when journeying by air and water), it’s important not to skimp on the requisite travel medicines – and with many promoting drowsiness, they can prove a great way to safely help your kids off to sleep, too.
Travelling by Sea
If you’re set on a family cruise with your baby or toddler in tow, or you need to take a ferry to get to your final destination, check first that your chosen boat line is young-family friendly. Can you store your stroller conveniently, if necessary? Is it possible to hire a family cabin for prolonged voyages? And what kinds of on-board facilities – play areas, baby changing stations, etcetera. – are offered? Additionally, make sure to pack sunscreen for excursions on-deck, and be particularly wary about little people wandering off by themselves.
Travelling by Air
Put paperwork at the top of your travelling-abroad checklist. Flight companies are pretty unforgiving if you happen to be running late from some unforeseen circumstance, so it doesn’t hurt to aim to be at the airport an hour or two before check-in time. Check your flight schedule regularly in the 24 hours directly before departure, too, just in case anything changes.
Checking through security is often the most nerve-wracking part of the whole flying process for parents of young children. Make it a little easier for yourself by explaining the sequence of events to your kids before the fact, and by checking your airline’s guidelines around carrying breast milk, baby food, and teethers in cabin luggage.
If you’re travelling with toddlers on long-haul flights or have to deal with a baby on the plane, compile a travel mamas’ packing list to make those hours above the clouds as stress-free as possible. Stock a bag full of the following: extra layers of clothing; baby formula; as many packaged snacks as you can manage; plenty of liquid; toothbrush and pajamas to mimic bed-time routines; diaper supplies; bibs; medications; crayons and paper; teddies and toys.Lastly, a book to keep you sane, as well. Oh, and don’t forget the car-seat!
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who especially loves writing about family, home, travel, and lifestyle topics. You can find more of her work here.