If you have children aged eight years old and below, you would have realised that travelling or bringing them on a holiday is not easy.
Not only do you have to consider the type of holiday that would be suitable for them, but you would also have to prepare everything for everyone. This includes making the transport and accommodation arrangements, packing, planning activities that would keep the kids entertained and more.
Here are some tips on how to stay sane and survive your vacation with the kids.
1. Pack properly
It goes without saying that when you travel with the kids, you’d most likely be packing and bringing along more stuff. But the thing is, don’t overpack.
If you’re travelling by plane, train, bus or boat, prepare a bag with stuff to keep your child occupied and happy. Bring along their favourite toy or game, some snacks, a spare outfit or two, and diapers.
However, make sure you don’t bring more than one toy or too many snacks. If your child is old enough and can walk, pack their stuff into a small backpack and let them carry it themselves.
This teaches your child to be responsible for their own stuff, and they also learn to be independent.
2. Travel during sleep times
If you travel during your child’s sleeping or nap times, they are more likely (hopefully) to get drowsy and sleep throughout the journey, instead of getting bored, running around, or … harassing other passengers. So, a night flight might be a better bet.
If your child has difficulty sleeping in a different environment, think Linus in Charlie Brown, and bring their favourite blanket to help them sleep, or a favourite toy that he or she usually sleeps with to accompany them.
3. Select suitable seats
Commercial airlines would usually have bassinet seats for those travelling with infants, so make sure you request for this when booking your flight. Different airlines also have different rulings on the weight and age (some even up to the age of two) of an infant that can use the bassinet so find out beforehand.
Usually bassinet seats are on bulkheads (ie in front of the dividing wall). The best bassinet seats are in the middle front row. Remember that you need to keep the area on the ground clear when taking off and landing.
If you’re travelling with a slightly older child who doesn’t require a bassinet, and there is a bassinet seat available, you might still want to request for it because it is useful for storing all that extra stuff.
If there is no bassinet seat available, then opt for a window seat with three abreast. That way, you’ll have your own “self-contained space”.
Sitting near the toilets is also a good idea. For older kids who might be busy with their games and toys, sitting at the rear of the plane will be less of a hassle because you won’t be blocking other passengers much. You might be closer to the pantry too so it would be easier to request for certain snacks or drinks.
4. Meal times
Most kids will get hungry faster than adults would. Pack some kid-friendly snacks to keep them happy during the journey.
If you’re taking a flight, airlines generally allow baby formula and milk to be carried onboard.
Some airlines also have special prepared infant meals so be sure to check for this when making your travel arrangements.
If you’re bringing snacks for your child, make sure they learn how to clean up themselves after eating.
During take off and landing, your kid might encounter some discomfort in their ears because of the change in air pressure. So, for kids older than three years old, bring some candy for them to suck on, which will help alleviate this. For infants, you might want to give them a pacifier or the baby bottle to suck on.
5. Be considerate
Just because you’re travelling with kids, it doesn’t mean that other passengers have to make extra allowances for you and your kid. Everybody is a paying customer on a flight, train or bus so do keep that in mind.
Be considerate and teach your child to be considerate too, especially if they are old enough to understand and behave themselves in public.
Teach your children to respect other people. They can occupy their own seat and floor area, play with their own toys and games, and read their books, but make sure they don’t encroach into the space of other passengers. This teaches them to be responsible for their own stuff and also thoughtful of others. Use headphones or turn the volume down if your child is going to play their portable games when other passengers are asleep.
By all means, running up and down the airplane aisle shouting should not be allowed.
Also, safety first. Keep an eye on your child at all times and make sure they don’t wander off by themselves.
Parents should also lead by example in being considerate. Use the proper place for changing your infant’s diapers … and no, we don’t mean the tray table that is meant for serving food! Find out if there is a changing room in one of the toilets. If you’re changing them in your seat, be sure to bring a changing pad and plastic bag. Don’t leave behind anything for the next passenger.