Too many times when I say go traveling with your kids, I’ve heard parents say, “No, I don’t want to travel with my toddlers, it’s too much trouble” or “It’s too dangerous to travel far – there are probably neither life jackets, auto chairs or other safety equipment” or “They will make too much trouble on the plane”.
If these parents are persuaded to travel with their children anyway, you will hear them say: “We definitely need to book something with a children’s club etc. – otherwise the children will get bored, and a children’s club will give the parents some peace and quiet”.
I’ve been traveling with my children since they were newborn. In fact, my son was only 4 weeks old when I, for the first time, brought him to Thailand for a month.
When my youngest daughter was 4 months old and my son 16 months, I also planned a trip to Thailand – this trip was planned so that my daughter was still only being breastfed (it would make it a bit easier). But of course nothing goes as planned – she became a bottle child!
I’ll never forget how I every day on Koh Phangan in Thailand, in a small primitive hut, was producing 12 bottles with baby milk for one day’s consumption, and which were placed in a refrigerator, along with everything else the guests could provide from the small primitive resort – at night I heated the bottle with a pressure cooker.
But it was FANTASTIC – and it was definitely the only practical thing I had to do – I didn’t have to think about shopping, meals and laundry. And there was plenty of entertainment such as the beach, puppies, nice Thais who almost struggled to play with the kids etc.
Of course, my kids always had their own little bag of toys with them. Most often it was only during the flight that the bag was opened.
Once we were in Fiji, my oldest daughter played with some local kids on the beach – these kids owned nothing, but they had a blast playing catchers on the beach, board games with rocks and seashells, hideaway, etc. Despite my daughter having bag filled with toys and electronic games, the bag wasen’t opened even once.
If you are considering whether to take the chance and need some peace of mind, then prepare yourself for the journey. Here are my suggestions on how to survive a journey with toddlers (and have a wonderful experience).
I haven’t taken into account whether this is a European Charter trip or whether you are heading to the Amazon rainforests – so use what is relevant to you.
Go traveling with your kids – it’s much easier than staying at home
1. Stroller / pram
Bring a folding stroller or pram – preferably one that can be fully closed with mosquito nets. It’s great when the child, during the day, can take a nap in the shade instead of a room.
A stroller / pram can also be used in the evening, where you as parents have the opportunity to be out a little longer while the little one sleeps in the stroller.
In most airports you are allowed to keep a stroller / pram to the gate.
2. A Baby Carrier
If you are going to places where a stroller / pram might not be convenient, it may be a good idea to bring a baby carrier or backpack.
Baby Carriers can be useful in airports, cities and on trips where it’s a challenge with stroller / pram.
3. For the babies – An pop up bed
When my son was very little, I bought such a pop up igloo bed. A small bed that consisted only of a closed mosquito net and a bottom. The bed worked completely like an igloo tent – folding itself out when I took it out of the small bag, which was no bigger than a laptop case.
The bed could be placed anywhere and was completely mosquito free. I used it for my 2 youngest children, who fell asleep as soon as I put them to sleep in the “cave”.
Traveling to especially tropical countries where there are many mosquitoes – and if you don’t stay in fancy hotels – the bed is absolutely perfect.
For non-tropical countries, it’s probably a bit over-kill.
4. Make a small emergency purse
Bring a small emergency purse in which you have waterproof patches, tweezers, scissors, some bandage, baby iodine, chlorhexidine and liquid children’s painkillers.
Furthermore, it’s highly recommended to bring ear drops (prescription) especially if you are staying at places with swimming pools, which are often filled with bacteria. There is nothing worse than an ear infection on a holiday.
5. On the Flight
Make sure you have some extra time at the airport – there must be time for toilet visits, curiosity and queues.
No matter how short or far you have to fly, the kids must be ready for the trip. Make sure they are tired even before boarding. Bring items in the bag that they can play with, sitting – toys, teddy bears, coloring books, tablet with entertainment and stories (remember headsets) etc. something they are usually happy to play with.
Also bring a book that you can read for them.
Remember to give the cild something to suck on when the plane takes off and lands. Most children who get plugs in their ears don’t always understand the message of sinking (which relieves pressure). If they have something to suck on, they automatically sink.
If you are traveling with a baby, the same applies – either breastfeed or give the baby a bottle when you take off and land, so the pressure is equalized.
Don’t worry about stopovers – it’s great to get out and stretch your legs, do some exercise and get rid of the buzz in the body (energy) and maybe have some food.
6. Hotels & Resorts
Where to stay?
It’s actually not that important – not for the kids anyway.
Hotel with a pool
Most kids love pools, but there are also some negative sides to pools. Children must be constantly monitored – even outside the pool opening hours. Pools are most often filled with bacteria. There are not quite as many things to do by a pool as on a beach eg.
Hotel by the beach
Living near a beach is almost the same as a child’s playground. On a beach, only the imagination sets boundaries – here you can build and play in the sand for hours. Always remember to bring water, sun hat and sunscreen to the beach.
Hotel room or apartment
If you have the opportunity to choose an apartment rather than a room, this is a great advantage. An apartment always has a small kitchen where you can store snacks and drinks in the fridge. If you have children who get up earlier than the breakfast buffet, you can start in the apartment.
An apartment is usually also larger than a hotel room. So, if you have the opportunity to choose, then choose an apartment.
7. Baby food & diapers
Baby food, diapers and breast milk substitutes can be purchased almost anywhere. What you should be aware of is that abroad, they love to add flavoring, sugar and perfume. So depending on where you are going, it’s a good idea to research what to expect.
Of course you need to bring what you need for the journey itself, but if you want to make sure that your child avoids the above, then I would recommend that you bring in especially breast milk replacement.
Regarding baby food there are relatively good products in Europe, whereas you have no idea what’s in the glasses in Asia. I would recommend that you make baby food yourself using fruit and vegetables that you buy yourself.
If you have a slightly older diaper child, it can be difficult to find large diapers (especially in Asia, where children stop using diapers early – earlier than we do)
8. Car seats & life jackets
In most countries, when you rent a car, you can also rent a car seat. However, the rental company will need to know this in advance.
In countries outside Europe, you will need to check an extra time if the car seat meets the safety requirements.
If you are going sailing in Europe, life jackets are expected to be on board. However, I would always do a double check, not least if the vests are also available in child sizes.
Abroad, you may not be sure if there are life jackets and there will be boat trips you may consider skipping.
Either because they don’t have vests at all, they don’t have them in the right sizes or because they are so old that they provide no security. In such case, there is nothing else to do but keep checking and waiting for the boat that you believe has equipment that meets your safety requirements.
9. Forget plans and time schedules
Don’t make too many plans, take things as they come. “But we usually do …..” and “it’s best for the kids to have the schedule they know”
Forget it – you are on holiday and maybe you have planned something. But if the plans don’t hold, then what? Travel with your kids – plans and time schedule belong to everyday life.
10. IMPORTANT – Relax and enjoy your vacation
The last, but absolutely most important good advice I will give you is:
Go pack your bags and get going. Traveling with your kids is wonderful – get out and away from the hamster wheel, get some experiences together and enjoy not having to do everything else but be together – just travel with your kids!
I can’t say it enough – traveling with your kids – it’s much easier than staying home.