Here is a ready reckoner to help you make that coveted family holiday a memorable experience. It goes without saying that touring with kids is a totally different proposition compared to the college trips we went on or our honeymoon. Children make us appreciate the smaller things in life and help us discover the world from a whole new perspective. Yes, travelling with them can be quite challenging but once you figure out ways and means to smooth things out, you are good to go globetrotting.
It is a myth that kids mean a cartload of suitcases. Agreed that it may not be possible to travel with a holdall but you can carry all you need and still avoid an abnormal pile of luggage by packing smart. Make a list of all items you want packed and then revisit the list with stringency. You will be surprised at how many items you can strike out on closer scrutiny. The trick is to cut out the frills and to never compromise on essentials. So, while packing diapers for your toddler or a basic first aid kit for the family in general is inevitable, you can go easy on the clothes you pack. You can always purchase extra outfits if need be at the destination you are visiting. When it comes to keeping them engaged, pack just some small toys, a couple of books and a few drawing stationery. Pack these in a colorful mini backpack and ask your child to carry it, if she is old enough and watch her guard her ‘possessions’ zealously. While packing the first-aid box be sure to include all the basics. Keep special conditions like allergies and sensitivities in mind when preparing the box. Extra towels, tissues, bandages always help. You may also want to include a backpack or stroller to ease your tired arms, if travelling with a toddler.
TONE DOWN EXPECTATIONS
When travelling with youngsters there is an unavoidable expectation-end product mismatch! Kids are normally short on patience and expect holiday magic to set in as soon as they walk out of the front door and into the car. So they turn sulky a few hours into the drive with the result that you have a couple of brooding babies on board when you reach your destination. Their moodiness rubs off on you, thus dimming the enchantment of the vacation considerably. The solution is to keep their expectations down and let them discover the nuances of the new place on their own. Opt to travel with holiday planners who can line up activities to keep them occupied. Choose kid friendly resorts to stay at.
TOUCHING INTERNATIONAL SHORES
If you are travelling by plane and to an international destination, allow for jet lag recovery space. Include an extra day in your itinerary to give the kids a breather to get oriented to the time change and the new place. At the airport, immigration check may take a while. Prepare your kids for this and keep them occupied with age appropriate toys till your turn comes. Read up the baggage rules and regulations on the airline’s website beforehand. For instance, liquids and gels may not be allowed on board the aircraft. Carry solid snacks like fruits, nuts, cereal bars. Children on a journey are perpetually hungry. So make sure you are well equipped to meet their demands. Don’t keep any metallic or hazardous objects in your hand baggage so that the process of security clearance is faster. If you carry a stroller, take one of those easily collapsible ones, so it can pass fast through security. Once in the plane, make them sit in the window seat and avoid the aisle corner as the constant movement up and down the passage may disturb them.
BOREDOM AT BAY
To keep them active and fresh try to keep the travel time short if you are just introducing the little ones to out of city travel. Choose kid friendly milieus, preferably starting with weekend getaways to get them used to the idea of the outdoors before attempting more adventurous and remote locations. Just as on a plane, on a long drive kids equate boredom with hunger and demand refurbishment every few minutes. Pack loads of snacks, preferably healthy ones like roasted nuts, cut fruits etc. to keep the little mouths busy. Thinking on your feet and coming up with out of the box ideas puts the fun back in travel. Even before you decide on a trip you can involve your kids in planning the travel. If your children are old enough get them involved in planning the holiday. Hold a mock meeting and give them choices and let them have the final say in choosing the destination. At the destination get them to click pictures, write travel journals or draw a scene which has impressed them and fill it with colors. There are endless possibilities to have fun provided you gauge their moods and preferences. Tone down your ‘me-time’ and dedicate your hours to make it enjoyable for them. You can postpone your full day shopping spree to that quick getaway you plan with your gal pals. Let this holiday be about the little ones. Bonnes vacances!