After a long year of quarantining, social distancing, and being stuck indoors, the world is again opening up. Naturally, many people are happily planning vacations and trips to far-flung places. But as a parent, you need to take a much more cautious approach to plan holidays. You do not need to revolve your whole trip around your children’s needs; it is good for them to experience a break in routine and structure.
The main thing is to ensure that there are kid-friendly activities and supplies to make the trip as fun and safe for them as possible. If you know where to look, you can find anything from child-safe harnesses to toddler jackets from Spyder or other similar brands. Once you have the proper gear, you can go on vacation stress-free.
Leave plenty of time for getting ready so that you can reach the airport in time. When you have children, you do not have the luxury of leaving in a reasonable amount of time. You must plan to leave unreasonably early, or you risk a tantrum or bathroom emergency throwing off your plans.
Pack one to two days early and give your children strict rules about unpacking or adding anything to the suitcases. Not having to deal with packing on the day itself will also shorten the amount of time you spend getting everyone ready.
When traveling with small children, it can take you longer to get through airport security due to having breast milk bottles or a stroller with metal parts. Arriving early and seeking help from your airline can help to simplify the process. Have a small bag of games, books, child-friendly snacks and airport security-approved drinks. This will help to keep the children distracted and entertained while you wait to board the plane.
Leave a Lot Behind
You may feel that you need to pack as much as you can to lessen the impact of going without your children. But this will lead to overpacking and a harder time moving from location to location. Leave behind everything you will not have an absolute need for and focus on spending time with your family.
Most places you go to will have the facilities you need and easy access to essential items. If your children do request something that you did not pack, you can easily purchase it for them. It will be good for them to learn how to entertain themselves without too many toys as well.
Pre-Booking is Your Friend
Traveling with children is exhausting. You cannot know how the plane will affect your children. Being restricted for long periods goes against the developmental needs of small children. This will lead to you feeling very frustrated and in need of rest once you arrive at your destination.
This exhaustion can make it harder to plan out the next day or activities for later in the day. Luckily, by making full use of pre-booking opportunities, you only need to follow a set itinerary. Nowadays, you can pre-book safari tours, zoo tours, museums, theme parks (theme parks also offer priority tickets which will allow you to skip lines), and private guided sightseeing.
Having an itinerary also makes it easier to deal with missing an activity. If you happen to miss one activity, you can rest, relax, and indulge in some unstructured sightseeing without stress because you know exactly what time you need to appear for the next activity.
Take Many Breaks to Sit With Your Kids
Children enjoy new things, but they can also get overwhelmed easily. Taking a break every few hours to sit down with your kids and discuss what you have seen will help them deal with their many sensory experiences.
Take the time to tell them about each activity beforehand as well. Tell them stories about the place and explain what they can expect to see there. This will greatly help them to stay centered and focus on being excited about the destination. It will greatly reduce nervousness and emotional meltdowns due to sensory overload and discomfort.
Explaining what to expect is also a great tactic for helping them to bear the passage of time. Give them small plastic watches and show them what time to expect certain things to happen. Involving them like this can help them understand what is happening better and reduce their likelihood of pestering you for information when you are distracted or busy.
Many restaurants and theme parks offer child discounts, which can help you keep your kids fed without spending too much money. Eating out on vacation can be quite expensive, so get comfortable with the idea of asking for discounts, using vouchers, and having most of your meals at kid-friendly restaurants. Kids are also more likely to try new foods if they are presented in a fun way on child-friendly plates.
Outside of mealtimes, always have snacks available. Children need food all the time, and having snacks that they are used to from home can help them patiently handle unexpected delays or slow traffic. Well-fed children are happy kids and will not present any of the issues you may have from a cranky and hungry child.