As a couple with their first baby, I remember us wondering if our yearly vacation abroad trips would be paused for many years. After consulting friends that were used to travelling with children, we’ve decided we are up to the challenge. We wanted to take our baby girl on her first vacation in beautiful Portugal when she was 2. Although we tried to prepare for our challenge, we should have prepared much better. Still, we lacked a complete recommendation list that could assist us in preventing some of the rocky mistakes we made.
While dating, we liked travelling abroad, taking long trips, looking at the fantastic views in different countries, eating new food and learning about new cultures. After our daughter’s birth, we also decided to continue this tradition with her. Here you can find some tips and insights we gathered about what it takes to make travelling with children successful.
Travelling with children: Planning the trip
Research, Research, Research: I believe every country in the world has something to see and do for children. That’s why if you want to go to a specific region, all it takes to adjust the trip for kids is to research the internet about different places and attractions suitable for the little ones. You can then combine them with things you, as an adult, want to see/do.
Trip route: From our experience, kids, especially young children, like stability in their life. So, I recommend not changing the hotel you’ll stay in every other day. Instead, the idea is to find a hotel /apartment which will be the home base for a minimum of a few days and plan daily roundtrips. So, research the main sites you want to visit to find the ideal place to stay, which will be convenient for daily roundtrip.
Don’t forget to add children’s attractions in the trip like: zoo, sea world, theme park etc. and on the roads, you can stop at playgrounds in the area.
Another important tip is that you should check that your kid can understand what is happening in the attraction so you won’t accidentally take them to a show in a foreign language.
I always prefer to find a hotel room with a kitchen, a washing machine (an essential thing, especially if you are going to travel with kids), safe, parking space,etc. This way, you can prepare your own food if the kids suddenly get hungry or there is a need to prepare the feeding bottles or just wash the dirty clothes.
If you are not going to visit central cities like London, Rome, Prague or in case most of the trip is outside big cities, I recommend to rent a car from the airport or once you leave the visit in the big city instead of using the public transportation because this way you have more freedom to stop wherever it’s needed. And to travel at your own pace, don’t forget to bring food, snacks, drinks, games, and familiar music for kids to occupy them while on the roads.
You can also bring the children’s car seats with you, sending them as special baggage on the flight. Another way is to rent a car with a car seat for kids, but it’s more expensive this way.
Travelling with children: What to bring with you?
- Stroller & baby carrier: The stroller is a convenient way to do long walks without the child getting tired or if they want to take a little nap. You can take the stroller with you till the plane’s entrance, and you’ll get it right back when the flight lands from the staff. You should consider that some places are unsuitable for strollers like castles with many stairs, trips in nature etc. For those cases, take with you also a Baby carrier.
- Toys: We like to take on board our kids’ favourite doll/Toy to make the child more confident on the flight. Also when you get to the hotel, put the doll/ teddy bears on our kids’ bed, so they feel more at home.
- Medicines: In any case, taking the essential medication with you for the trip, like OTC medicine for pain relief and fever is vital.
- Tablet: Download the favourite movies and games to a tablet so even in places without internet, like on the flight, on the roads, and even before bedtime the child will be able to enjoy their favourite and familiar things.
Travelling with children can be fun and challenging at the same time. We just need to take into consideration their needs and make them feel safe and at home with familiar things. You can invent games and challenges to make the trip more fun for them. For example, on one of our trips to Italy, my daughter cried and said she wanted to go home the minute we got to the hotel. So I told her that we were on a magical quest and she might win a magic wand (which we bought at the end of the trip, which we purchased and was hidden until we got home).
Sometimes I do miss a short weekend trip on my own or with my husband. But when I look at my daughter’s smiling face I realise that I want to share those experiences with her.