Traveling is great for kids. It expands their horizons, lets them experience different cultures, and can make for amazing family memories. That being said, traveling with kids isn’t always the easiest adventure. When you combine the unexpected pitfalls of travel with the chaos that comes with children, your dream trip can quickly turn into a big headache. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to ensure everyone in the family has an unforgettable vacation. Here are some of the worst mistakes people make when traveling with kids, and what you can do to avoid them.
Having a Tight Schedule
As any parent will tell you, scheduling kids is a feat in and of itself. More often than not, even the best planning can spectacularly backfire when you throw kids into the mix. In order to minimize stress for everyone involved, keep your schedule as flexible as possible. You and your child will have to adapt to unexpected delays and unforeseen events; being relaxed and open to change will make the situation much easier for everyone to handle.
Forgetting the Entertainment
Kids get bored easily; this still applies even when you’re traveling. Whatever you do, do not forget to bring along enough options to keep your kids entertained. Fill up the iPad if you have it, or pack extra books and toys. While you’re at it, make sure to include snacks and drinks — a hungry kid is never a happy kid. The best bet for keeping everyone happy? Include some travel games or activities you can do together. It can turn a bad layover into a wonderful bonding experience.
Everyone wants to make the most of their vacation experience (particularly if it’s somewhere new and exciting). However, kids can quickly go from excited to exhausted. And a tired child is rarely in a good mood, no matter what the location may be. Slow things down; take more time at each location, so as not to overstimulate the kids. Make sure there’s plenty of downtime too. Even if your child is old enough to skip naps, they’ll appreciate some quiet time each day — and in the long run, so will you.
Arriving “On Time”
Normally, arriving on time is something to aspire to. However, that doesn’t cut it when you’re traveling with kids. Arriving on time could actually backfire in a big way, particularly if you have a large family and want to sit together; you’ll realize that “on time” is not enough time! If you can’t book beforehand, showing up early might be the only way to keep everyone together. Even if you can book your seats early, showing up with extra time to spare is still smart. It will give you time to get everyone ready and organized for the next step in their adventure.
Hauling around unruly kids (or just an overtired toddler) can put a real crimp in your travel plans. And trust us — your little ones aren’t going to be pulling their weight. If your kid is old enough to carry their own bags, keep it down to the bare minimum (including toys and comfort items, of course). That way they won’t get weighed down and tired out. Be realistic about what you’re going to want to carry — and what your family will actually need.
Ignoring Your Audience
Ensuring your child’s safety and comfort is always top priority, particularly when you’re far from home. Make sure that everything — from the hotel to the travel accommodations — is child-friendly. Look for places that are specially prepared for kids. Some hotels have fun activities for children, while others can point you in the direction of family-friendly local places to explore. Keep your children and their specific wants and needs in mind through every step of planning, and ultimately everyone will end up having a far better time.
Got any other useful tips on traveling with little ones? Share them with us in the comments section.