- Is it possible to travel with a kid?
- What is the best way to travel with children?
- What age is best to take kids on vacation?
Oh, travel! How we’ve missed you! The joy of unseen scenery, the delight of new foods and the chance to create exciting memories is high on everyone’s most wanted list these days.
Whether it’s a road trip, a train trek or a long-haul flight, travelling with children is often a daunting prospect so here’s our guide to transforming the arduous into an adventure!🗺️
Is it possible to travel with a kid?
Of course it is! Resources like Rough Guides have the expertise and experience to help you choose the best place to travel with kids.
Once you’ve got the lowdown on new locations you can follow our nifty family travel tips to help you get there in one piece.
What is the best way to travel with children?
Getting there takes a bit of extra planning, but it’s possible to reduce stress by heeding the words of those that have gone before you!
Allow more time
We all know that everything takes longer with kids in tow, so be kind to yourself and factor in plenty of extra time while travelling. It’s better to amble and risk boredom than find yourself dashing to the departure gate ‘Home Alone’ style!🏃🏽♀️
The early bird gets the extra legroom
If you’re flying, choose an early flight to reduce the chance of delays. Early flights usually have fewer passengers so there’s less waiting around. Avoid lengthy stopovers or flights involving transfers in the middle of the night.
Remember to seat young children away from the aisle so that wayward limbs don’t collide with the food/drink trolleys and other passengers.
Don’t waste your air miles
It may seem like a good idea to use air miles to upgrade to roomier seats. This doesn’t always pay off as you can end up worrying about your restless kids annoying other first class passengers. Travelling in economy is more crowded but there will be other parents to share the ‘Oh heck, what is my child up to?’ eye rolls🙄. Who knows, your kids may even make some new friends!
Prep them for the adventure!
As with most things, kids adapt better to change when they know what’s coming and travelling with children is no exception. You can show them videos of airports or train stations to introduce them to these places or use relevant books.
While flying, prepare them for the ear pop caused by changes in air pressure as it can be a strange and overwhelming sensation. Having a drink or chewing gum just after take-off and in the last 30-45 seconds of landing can help. For infants, a bottle will do the trick.
Dress like an onion, with layers.
Changing temperatures, inevitable spills and mad dashes to the loo can mean your child (and you) may end up having more costume changes than a Las Vegas headliner. 👩🎤 Make life easy by dressing everyone in comfy layers that can easily be slipped on or whipped off. Avoid lace-up shoes as they’re a pain at security points and opt for slip on or Velcro footwear.
Your must-have travel party bag
There are two things we know to be true. Kids love unwrapping stuff and kids love new toys. Fling together a quick travel party bag by wrapping up a few toys (and favourite snacks). Think small colouring books with crayons (triangular crayons won’t roll off surfaces), doodle boards, mini sticker books, magnetic toys, 3D puzzles, mini craft kits or stringy/stretchy toys and balls.
Many airlines have kids’ activity kits so it’s worth asking if one isn’t offered. The novelty of an on board ‘party bag’ will always go down well.
Pack smart and light
When travelling with children, there’s an understandable tendency to over-pack but you can end up feeling like a mule. 🧳 Here are our top seven essential items for travel with kids:
- A favourite soft toy or blanket for comfort.
- A toilet bag with nappies or spare pants. Consider popping a pull-up on a young child even if they’re toilet trained to make life easier in case of mishaps.
- A tablet loaded up with favourite shows or films and headphones (possibly with a splitter).
- A notebook and crayons or a magnetic doodle board to distract/placate/entertain them with anything from sketching to hangman.
- Bags, (antibacterial) wipes and clips. Two-thirds of parents think that the biggest challenge when travelling with children is staying on top of the mess. 🪠 Whether you’re bagging up a wodge of wipes or saving a half-eaten bag of crisps, this trio of travel essentials should always be within reach.
- Water and snacks. Make sure your child’s water bottle is spill/leakproof and that they can open it themselves. For munchies, think dry crunchy snacks that take a while to eat and won’t leave you smothered in goo - cereal, pretzels, oat bars, crackers and if you really must, string cheese.
- Basic essential medicines can save the day when you’re on the move.💊 Packing painkillers, allergy medicines and stomach/travel sickness medicines can be a wise move on a long journey.
There will be meltdowns…and that’s okay.
Your child will get tired and grumpy. Your child will get fidgety and noisy. There will be tears at some point. Most people around you will understand, so worry less about what they’re thinking and keep going.
You’ll have your own travel-related stress to deal with but try to remember that new environments can be overwhelming for kids of any age. Whenever time allows (and sometimes when it doesn’t), try to pause and bring your child in for a cuddle. 💗 Be positive about the changes and challenges at hand and accept any discomfort/boredom they’re feeling. Let them know that, even though you’re knee-deep in snack debris and sick bags, you’re happy to be on an adventure with them.
What age is best to take kids on vacation?
There are different things to consider when travelling with children depending on their age.
Many claim that under twos are the easiest travel companions as they’re portable and will stay happy as long as you maintain their routine and create a comfy setting. 👼 Ha ha ha! That’s a good one! Anyone who’s ever travelled with an infant will know that it all depends on the baby's mood on that particular day.
There are a few things that can help sweeten the travel pill. Many airlines have a bassinet near the bulkhead seats. Check whether you can book this and pack a sunshade/blackout cover to help your little one settle. In addition to their favourite toys and books, bring a blanket or mat to play on. They’ll need to stretch, roll around or toddle after being wheeled around or carried for long periods. Unless you’re travelling with a newborn, a whole travel system isn’t necessary. Consider renting a car seat at the other end and paring down the packing with a lightweight foldable stroller.
The good thing about travelling with a baby is that anything new is stimulating for them, so you don’t have to worry about finding child-focussed activities. As long as you pick somewhere with a moderate climate and accessible clean water, the world is your oyster!✈️
These little explorers will enjoy the newness of every airport lounge and hotel lobby. It’s not always possible to find a playpark so let them burn off energy by exploring on their own two feet along the way.
For toddlers, there’s so much new stuff to wander off and look at/poke/lick. If you’re travelling with another adult then make sure you know who’s watching and who’s doing the task at hand (i.e. getting bags, sorting tickets etc.). If you’re flying solo, then hold hands, reins or backpacks so that you know they’re near.
Kids over 5 can easily be involved in choosing what you do ahead of time and this will keep them motivated and excited. Pack a scrapbook so that they can record the trip in their own words and pictures.
While planning holidays with young children, look for activities and excursions that might ignite their interest and reputable kid-friendly guides.
Safety’s always a worry when travelling with children. You can put a piece of paper in your kid’s pocket or attach a small tag to their clothing with their name and your phone number on as a precaution. If you’ve got a real Houdini on your hands, you can get GPS trackers that fit onto shoes and belts.🛰️
Help get them interested by asking them to create a family playlist for part of the journey. Let them plan part of your itinerary with a budget and a couple of challenges (i.e. Can you find a good play park? Where's the best place for local food?) If you’re comfortable with it, allow them to plan an excursion where they can go off and explore on their own.🧭
You can use the holiday to support your children’s education. Visiting places that tie into their history or geography lessons will help bring the subjects to life. Giving them the opportunity to use the languages they’re learning at school can also boost confidence and give them real-world experience.
The actor and presenter Michael Palin said ‘Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.’ After the limitations of the pandemic, the travel bug is the one bug we’ve missed. Travelling with children of any age is simultaneously a challenge and an adventure but the memories you’ll share of the mishaps and the marvellous will undoubtedly make it worthwhile.
Here at GoStudent we’re always ready to help you and your child embark on your next adventure. Choose from one of our expert tutors to help your child get excited about developing the skills that will help them go out and explore the world.🌄