Updated: Jun 3, 2021
Our team has quite the experience traveling with kids, from long-haul flights, to overnight ferries/cruiseships and road trips..we've seen it all. So we gathered 5 thoughts or pieces of advice that make the trip so much more relaxed for you: the new parent who is ready to experience the world with your little ones.
1) Roadtrips: Leave early If you're renting a car make sure you rent a kid seat for your child in advance, it would be no fun to find out the rental company has none left! Next: it's absolutely great if you can plan the trip as early in the day as possible. Your kids will most likely fall asleep for a long stretch before it's time for a (late) breakfast on the way.
Long breaks in the outdoors
Plan the trip in such a way that you take enough time for breakfast and lunch, so everyone is rested and comfortable and bellies are full and happy. Take up to 1 hour for every break. If weather and environment allows, try a walk outside, it does really give that extra boost of energy to every family member. On that note, try finding child-friendly pitstops, such as big restaurants that offer a playground or other outdoor areas and changing tables (and for the parents that should keep the gears running: good coffee!) Entertainment Switch up the radio with a podcast (for kids if they're awake), or other themed playlists that they can sing along to. You can even do fun games such as count cars of the color you chose (whoever counts most, wins!).
Car-sickness Car-sickness happens to the best of us. Make sure you get to know what triggers it.. our kids cannot eat yoghurt early morning before a trip. Other than that, have some wet wipes available that are made to clean car seats. These are available at your usual gas station. Also bring some plastic bags and an extra pair of clothes in the seat area, (to not have to dig out the back of the car to find clothes). If your kids have a tendency to become car-sick, avoid books or iPads. Open up the window for fresh air, or try a long outdoors break with a vast meal.
Babies Babies: usually sleep a lot in the early months. But should not sit that long in carseats. Try shorter road trips (2-3 hrs). If you have a baby, it helps to bring a baby carrier, for quick trips in and out of the car.
2) Ferries/cruise ships
Ferries are tricky because if you are with car, you are not allowed to get in to the parking lot during the trip, where probably all your family holiday necessities are packed. Which means you have to think through what you should bring on to the boat that you cannot miss during the trip. Usually ferry boats have restaurants and shops where you can buy plenty (and spend time), but surely you'll want to bring some snacks, (activity) books and for babies a diaper bag and extra pairs of clothes. If you are staying overnight, also toiletries and pyamas. Ferries at night have shown to be cold. Bring some extra sweaters for your little ones, even if it's the middle of summer. If it's a cruise ship: you will get so many kids-friendly activities presented, that you'll not have to worry how to pass time!
Flights can be such a hit or miss in experience, just because some airport give you the best traveling experience with fast lanes, and changing tables - while others let you stand in queues, find gates at the end of the airport without offering airport strollers or let you board as any other passenger -while your child is having a fit. So..it's best to just stay in the moment and have a positive mindset! Be well on time, 3 hours in advance to your flight is no luxury with kids. They need to probably eat, drink and have (multiple) toilet breaks before boarding. It gives you plenty of time to navigate through the airport in peace. If you have a toddler, we LOVE the Stokke JetKids bag. Not only does your toddler not need to walk through entire stretches of airport floors / but roll! (yes they can sit on this suitcase! ) They can then use this suitcase to lay stretched with their legs on their seat, with cushion available. For the parents with babies, a carrier does magic, but if you have a heavy baby, check if the flight company allows strollers to either come with as cabin bagage (BabyZen Yoyo is one the strollers that can come with) or if you are allowed to leave the stroller at boarding (where ground staff checks it in). For babies you can bring drinks, water and other fluids, you just tell the security check staff about it.
PS: The flight company we as a family always love to travel with is KLM, so child-friendly!
4) Always pack: healthy snacks, babyfood, drinks, disinfect wipes,disinfect spray and handgel (because, travel with kids says it all) extra pairs of clothes, plastic bags (for adding on dirty clothes) (activity) books and other compatible toys. For warmth: blankets and sweaters and hats (babies love hats to sleep with as their head cools off so quickly, especially in places such as planes and cars where the airco is always on - but even toddlers love a good old blanket to snuggle up with).
5) Mindset: Traveling with kids does require extra time and effort from you as parents. And that's okay. You'll find that some time a trip went super smooth, and other times it was just exhausting for everyone. Make sure not to stress about it too much. As long as you have a realistic travel plan, with enough breaks for food, play and rest, it should work out. And, should you come back from a trip exhausted, then do take the time to 'land' in your new destination for a day. Take your time with the kids, they don't directly need to see the beach or go out to a restaurant, that is really something that we see a lot of parents still do. Vacation and travel are about being together as a family and spending precious time together in a beautiful destination. Take the time to experience this together, without rushing and you'll find time expanding and moments will be meaningful and the bonds with your kids will become stronger. Adding on to that mindset: find some time to unplug from digital devices...discover new routines and discover a slower way of spending the day mindfully.
That's all for now folks! Happy mindful traveling!
Team Koala Charlotte