The school holidays are just around the corner, starting with the festive lunar new year holidays and upcoming March school holidays for 2018. Get ready to enjoy your holiday vacay with handy tips to travel with the kids shared by travel-wise moms and some say, paranoid parents.
Be it by train, plane, coach or car, these need-to-know survival tips will save you time, money and your sanity.
Prior to the holiday trip, here are some useful tips to travel that will make your journey stress-free and fuss-free.
1. Pack Extras
As parents, only you will know what your child needs best. From extra wet wipes, diapers, milk formula, socks, insect repellent, snacks, toothbrush and the list goes on, keep the extras handy in a carry bag or knapsack. This will surely save you from running to the pharmacy or supermart to pick up that extra essential.
Let the big kids pack their own extras in their own carry bag to teach them a sense of responsibility. The little ones can learn from them eventually.
2. Make a Checklist Before Packing
Travellers with kids will know that a travel checklist is a lifesaver. After all, your brain can only process so much information at one time. Place all essentials for your family and yourself on the list and simply tick them off when packing. In fact, the kids can join in the fun to make sure those items are in the bag before you zip it up.
3. Keep a Diary With Essential Information
Write it all down. In moments of crises when your smart phone may go on a blink or there’s no WiFi or the rechargeable power packs are dead, a diary or jotter book that holds your list of essentials and important information such as phone numbers and addresses will prove useful.
Writing it down also means you would remember it better. The diary can also double up as a travel journal along your holiday or a scribble book for a pesky child.
4. Keep Duplicates of Your Documentation
Many travellers agree that this is one of the important tips to travel. It is critical to make duplicate copies of travel documents such as passports, visas, identification card, driving license, travel details, travel insurance, medical card and all related materials. It can be incredibly useful when you’ve lost your passport or ID as duplicates will assist the authorities when making a police report.
While others may save the duplicates in their smart phone, it is recommended to have actual printouts too just in case you can’t find a printer at your holiday destination. With kids tagging along, this will surely save you any headache in the eventuality of the originals going missing.
5. Plan Ahead for Emergencies
For every holiday destination, seek out the address and contact details of the Embassy or Consulate of your country. The Embassy acts as your protector should anything unfortunate occur during your trip.
Also, research in advance and keep the contact details of the pediatric hospitals and police stations closest to your place of stay. If a child needs medical attention, you’d know where to go. From my experience, not all police stations are helpful to tourists, but at least, you’d know in advance where to report a crime or make a lost item report.
6. Pack a Medical Kit
It is best to pack a basic medical kit from home as you may not be too familiar with the brands of medicine overseas. When junior is feeling unwell, you have a ready supply of medicines that you would commonly take for any ailment. Whether it is a bout of flu, the odd fever, sore throat or tummy run, the best remedy is still at home.
For Immigration and Customs purposes, do declare the medicines in your medical kit. Just have your local doctor prepare a prescription for the medicines you are carrying with you.
7. Take Books, Games, and Toys
Provide the kids a knapsack to pack their favourite books, games and toys for the trip. Parents can join in the fun too as you can sneak in little-wrapped gifts to be used as rewards for good behaviour.
Remember to eliminate the big items and go for activity books, colour pencils, easy to hold toys, playing cards like Snap or Happy Family and origami paper. Toys with detachable parts like Lego or Play-Doh are a strict no-no as you don’t want to be picking them up off the ground all day.
Tech toys are great when you desperately need to get some shut-eye, but let the kids enjoy the wonders of the trip in natural surroundings where possible.
Already on your way to your holiday with the family, this next set of tips to travel with kids will prove useful and fun too.
8. Bring a Stroller
Traveling with young children means they get tired easily. A lightweight stroller will come in handy on those long overnight flights or train rides. Just strap them in and let them sleep. It will save you from carrying them for hours and having a major back and shoulder ache later.
A stroller is very useful in crowded places too. When junior is likely to be lost in the crowds, you can keep him entertained with books and toys while being strapped in the stroller. Less worry for you, more speed mania action for the tot in a stroller.
Another plus point is the stroller doubles up as a place to hang your shopping bags, place your water bottles or rest your knapsack. Best of all, most commercial airlines will take care of your stroller before you board your flight and have it ready for you when you land at no extra charge. While some kids may not like being strapped in a stroller, a little training from the start will get them used to it.
9. Take More Photos
Every memorable holiday captures photos of new sights, landmarks, and family joy. Do yourself a favour. Give your older child a camera and task them to take photos of every piece of luggage the family is carrying including knapsacks and kids bags. Count them too.
This task will keep them busy for a while and you’ll be able to sort out any extra travel details. Photos of luggage will ensure the kids and you will know which luggage belongs to you when they are loaded down from the train or airport carousel. This greatly reduces any chance of lost or missing luggage.
Should that luggage be damaged on arrival, you would at least have a photo of it in good condition for damaged luggage claims from the airline or travel provider.
10. Brighten Up Your Baggage
The fancier the luggage is, the better. Get the kids to place stickers, ribbons and luggage tags on all baggage to make it easy to spot at any time and place. A fun task and you’ll be happy to know that junior will be so excited to play the ‘spot your luggage’ game once you’ve reached your destination.
11. Brighten Up the Kids’ Attire
When you’re in super crowded places and you need to keep track of the kids’ whereabouts, it’s time to great creative and dress them in bright colours with a fun cap or loud jacket. It’s then easier to spot them from a mile away. Take a photo with the kids each morning before you set off on your adventures so you’ll remember their outfit of the day.
As extra precaution and tips to travel, keep a note in their pockets that has your name and contact details. Should the child be lost and the authorities pick them up, they would at least know how to contact you.
12. Smile and the World Smiles with You
Always smile at the service crew on the plane, train or coach, especially to the senior crew who look like parents themselves. They will most likely help you when you need any assistance with your child. Many of them would be happy to wash and sanitize your milk bottles, sneak your kids some biscuits, bring extra blankets or pillows and refill your water bottles.
Smile and you’ll be able to survive those long travel journeys better with the assistance of friendly service crew. Some crew would also provide stationery and colouring books, games and toys to keep the little ones occupied. Just ask for them and you will be served.
13. Book Tickets Online
Avoid the queues at places of attraction by booking your admission tickets online. When you have excitable kids who just won’t wait in queues, this will greatly convenience you. Better yet, kids and seniors enjoy reduced rates so make sure you book the tickets early. Check out preferential rates with all major credit cards and you may be able to enjoy extra savings.
On your way home? It’s time to give yourself a pat on the back for a trip well planned. Here are a few more tips to travel to remember.
14. Take Extra Breaks
It is the end of the school holiday and everyone is exhausted from a good trip and lugging all that extra shopping around. There is no need to rush anymore so take that coffee break and let the kids play with their new toys or games while you catch your breath.
Take this time to locate the car keys and house keys before you head home. Most Asians would take this time to satisfy their cravings for local delicacies they may have missed during the holiday. Even the kids may want their local Milo, roti prata, nasi lemak or laksa. Relax and enjoy a safe journey home.
15. Stay Sane and Survive
Make the most of this school holidays! No matter how bad things can be or how awry your travel planning went, simply remember that kids are resilient and highly flexible. As long as they are promised a good time, they will recover from every temper tantrum and live to tell their wonderful holiday to family and friends. Make the most of this school holidays!
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