My family loves to travel. We usually travel to domestic destinations. Our kids are still young and although traveling can be so much fun, it can also be stressful and challenging.
Our travel experience from having only one child to two children and now three has evolved drastically. It continues to change as our children grow older. There was a time when my husband and I were brave and strong enough to go abroad with all three kids – a 7-year-old, a toddler, and an 8-month-old baby.
Three years later (and a good number of domestic trips in between), we are more confident to travel abroad again since they are now a little bit older. An upcoming trip abroad, and this time a longer vacation, will be the test we hope to pass with flying colors.
I realized traveling with kids requires much preparation, patience, and endurance. Here are some points to consider if you are traveling with young children.
1. Kids’ medical check-up
Especially for long vacations, this is number one for me. Our kids may need vaccines, special medicine and/or clearance from their pediatrician. It pays to be safe and healthy while on vacation.
A week before the flight, I usually scan our closets and make a mental note of which items to bring. You can use a checklist as a guide. Start packing little by little. Don’t forget essentials like:
▪ Change of clothes – This will depend on how long your vacation will be and your destination’s weather
▪ Disposable diapers and diaper mat
▪ Baby milk and food like biscuits or energy bars for long flights
▪ Disposable bottle liners – for easy packing; they’re pre-sterilized and there’s no need to wash
▪ Drinking water for the baby (Some airports allow it but check first. It sometimes depends on the regulation of your destination.)
▪ Toiletries especially baby toothpaste and baby toothbrush
▪ Wet wipes and sanitizers (very useful!)
▪ Medicine and first-aid kit
▪ Bug sprays and insect bite ointments
▪ Swimwear and sun block – you can never be sure when you’ll need them
Know the baggage allowance. Keep in mind the things you packed in your checked luggage and make sure to put the first 7 items on top in your carry-on bag for easy access.
If you are planning to bring one (which I think is necessary), it should be lightweight and easy to fold. When my family went to Hong Kong, we needed to bring two: one for our toddler and another one for our baby. Aside from the convenience of allowing us to move around faster and with ease, the stroller proved to be the best place for our 7-year-old to rest or nap.
4. Plan Your Flight Schedule
Consider booking an evening flight especially for long haul trips. Children will be sleeping through the night just like the other passengers on board.
Make sure they are properly fed before bedtime to avoid a whole plane drama. Remember, a hungry child is a cranky child. It also helps if you get them tired during the day. And oh, no sweets please.
Airlines have a special lane for those who checked-in online so make sure to do so before heading to the airport to avoid long queues.
Arrive at the airport with enough time to spare. Let your children take their time and explore a little bit. Don’t rush them or arrive late if you don’t want to bring grumpy kids inside the plane.
Scan and print your tickets, visas (if your destination needs one) and your hotel’s email confirmation. These may come in handy when, say, an immigration officer asks to see them.
Also, don’t forget to check your passport’s expiry date. Passports should have at least six months validity when traveling internationally. Failure to do so could result into a nightmare when you have children travelling with you.
6. Plan your itinerary and book a hotel close to where you plan to go.
Children get bored easily. They run out of patience especially when you don’t know where you’re heading. Planning your tour will help keep them happy and excited. There won’t be a lull in between activities.
Book a hotel near the tourist spots. It’s convenient because you and the kids can go back to the hotel room and rest anytime you want.
In Hong Kong, we booked our hotel inside Disneyland. That way, it was easy to go back and forth to the theme park. It was also less stressful since we focused on exploring one place at a time.
7. Relax and enjoy
Take pictures. Create memories with your family. Have fun. Go a little crazy. Be a kid again. Remember it’s your vacation too.
By: Abbi Cabigao-Paras