Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tips for traveling with kids

Traveling with the whole family is definitely fun but tiring as well. Especially if you have young kids or babies in tow. I have three kids currently aged 6, 4 and 2 and it definitely is not as easy as it looks, especially if you don’t have the budget to bring a yaya with you. You will be exhausted from carrying the baby bags, lugging the stroller, cleaning up after them, keeping them entertained, and so on and so forth. You have to put your kids’ needs first and accept that not everything will go as planned. Even if you have your whole itinerary prepared months in advance, it can all depend on your kids’ moods that day like if they suddenly get sick or throw a major temper tantrum.

We are actually on a family trip right now since it's already the kids' summer break. And I'm sure a lot of you are also getting ready to go on or are planning your own vacations as well. So to help other parents out there, here’s some tips for a fuss-free family travel based on my experience.

Before the Trip

- When booking your flights, try to choose the time that coincides with your baby or kid’s nap schedule so they’ll have a higher chance of sleeping in the airplane. 

- I’m sure all of us want to save money when traveling, but sometimes the extra hassle is not worth it especially if you’re with kids. Like when we went to Boracay, the flight to Kalibo was so much cheaper but of course we’ll still have to take a long bus ride to Caticlan. So even though the flight to Caticlan was more expensive, we booked that since it was more convenient for us and the kids. And if you have the budget, paying extra for premium seats on the plane can be worth it since you’ll be more comfortable especially if you’re with a baby.

- Make sure you have ample time to pack your things. Traveling with kids is a whole different story since you have to bring so much of their essentials. Make lists to ensure you don’t forget anything.

- Do your research on the places you will visit and activities you want to do. Know the best way to get to your location since it will save you time and money. Download useful apps to help you navigate the city.

- Try to check-in online if you can a day before your flight. It’s really easy and you just print your boarding passes. Usually, you can skip the long lines and just go straight to one of the counters to check-in your luggage.

At the Airport/Airplane

- Get to the airport early. You wouldn’t want to be rushing through everything and running to your gate with your kids in tow!

- Personally, I prefer boarding last when I’m with the kids since they get so impatient once inside the plane (When are we leaving?! Why aren’t we moving yet?!). At least they still have time to run around and expel some energy at the waiting area, rather than have nowhere to go once seated inside.

- Make your kids go to the bathroom before boarding. We all know how cramped airplane restrooms are.

- Bring your kids’ toys, books, and snacks to keep them preoccupied. Try not to bring the expensive or irreplaceable stuff though, as these have a high chance of getting lost or misplaced. Label your stuff and check everything before you leave a place to make sure you didn’t forget anything.

- Make sure you have the essentials with you in your carry-on bag like wipes, extra clothes, diapers, medicine, snacks, and toys. And once onboard, get the items you need and have them within reach before take-off and landing. You wouldn’t want your kid to be screaming for his toy or blankie (which is inside your bag in the overhead bin) once the seatbelt signs are on and the plane starts moving. 

During the Trip

- Be flexible with your plans. Understand that traveling with kids can be unpredictable depending on their mood and how they’re feeling. I once had to bring my son back to the hotel in the middle of dinner because his tummy was aching. Or even if we want to stay longer somewhere, we usually have to cut our outing short when the kids start complaining that they’re tired or have temper tantrums.

- Check operating hours of establishments you want to visit beforehand. You wouldn’t want to go all the way somewhere then find out the place was closed. And also check the weather forecast on that day so you know what to wear or if it will rain.

- Bring a stroller or a baby carrier (or both). In some areas, having a baby carrier is more convenient especially if there are a lot of stairs. But having a stroller can also provide some relief (carrying a baby/toddler for hours is no joke) and can come in handy when your kids have to take a nap. Plus, you can also use it to place all your shopping bags!

- If you can, schedule your visits to popular attractions like theme parks on a weekday so there will be considerably less people. And buy tickets in advance online so you won’t have to line up at the ticket booth anymore.

- Taking public transportation when traveling is a great experience for kids. Just be sure to avoid rush hour because the crowds can get really suffocating. Plus, it will be nearly impossible to squish your way in a cramped train especially if you have a stroller. 

Bottomline, traveling with your kids is challenging but rewarding. At times, it might not even seem like a vacation for you since their needs come first. But remember to just enjoy the moment, keep your cool and know that it will get easier as they grow older. Learn to laugh at stressful situations and treat each moment as an adventure!

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