Travelling with children

How to have a great holiday with your children

Many families are taking their children on a holiday this summer. Are you one of them? For many, how to keep their children going in a new environment is the biggest question. There are so many options. Here are our top 10 suggestions to having a great holiday with your children:

1. Introduce them to the destination prior to departure. If your kids haven’t been to the destination, share pictures or watch videos about the place. If you can, try out the cuisine before you go (always a good reason to try that new restaurant). You may have neighbours, colleagues or class mates from that country, too. Speak with them and ask them what is different from their country to where you are now. What would they recommend you do?

2. Involve them in your itinerary. Are your children older? Go through the planned trip with them. Find out what they’d like to see. If you’re going to Europe, they may be interested in the Cinderella castles. You can combine such trips with a bit of history.

3. Explore child-friendly options. These days, tour operators have realised that children have different needs than adults. TV channels on planes or audio tours for a city tour have been adjusted to cater for the youngsters. More and more museums have an art program for kids while their parents can adore the art. Check whether the planned sightseeing tour offers a kid-friendly tour.

4. Bring their toys. Before packing your suitcase, decide which toys to bring for your kids. Choose the ones they regularly play with. You don’t want to carry something that they rarely use. Also think of any supporting items like a pencil sharper if they like to draw, an extra set of batteries or an adapter if they’re playing with electronics. Looking for ideas when flying? Check out these games.

5. Stick to their routine. Especially for younger children, a routine is vital. Travelling across many time zones may make this harder (e.g. Dubai to Australia). Consider how you can prepare them before going away. One option is letting them gradually stay up 15 minutes longer and getting them up 15 minutes later (or earlier depending on travelling east or west) for the week before your departure.

6. Keep a journal. Can your kids write? Let them write down or draw what they’ve experienced that day. It will help them digest the events of the day and you to remember what you’ve actually done. When back at home, you can use this for a scrapbook or even a future school reports. You can either bring a journal with you or create one yourself.

7. Find a local supermarket. Stack up with snack for day trips and at night. Just like newborns, little children (and adults!) can become impatient when hungry. Have something they like (e.g. cereal bars or an apple) ready for these emergencies. You may want to have a map with restaurants where you and your family could and would like to eat handy (on your phone or a traditional paper map). Keep your kids hydrated with plenty of water or juices mixed with water to reduce the sugar content.

8. Be prepared for an upset tummy. Foreign food may not always go down well. Too spicy, too sweet, you name it. Have some medicine or other proven remedies to soothe your kid’s discomfort. Don’t forget to pack other medicine which your kid has to take regularly as well as a mini emergency case filled with plasters/band aids, sun lotion and sun burn treatment, insect repellents and sting treatment, etc.

9. Have some down time. Just like adults, kids need to recharge. Whether you’ll plan daily afternoon naps (don’t make them too long as they can worsen jetlag) or just sit in a garden or café and let the little ones play, find some down time for them. You can also use this time to chill out or having your children watched by a baby-sitter, explore your holiday destination without them. Remember you too need to refill your batteries!

10. Go back to basics. This last one may be one step further than the last point and more controversial. Let your kids be bored. It’s not your job to entertain them 24/7 nor for your kids to be entertained by screen time 24/7. This may not work for babies and toddlers, yet, older kids should learn to do nothing, be in the moment or get creative without external guidance. Similar to down time, being bored actually helps them to develop, experience different emotions and find solutions by themselves.

When we travelled with children, we looked into getting them involved early on. Knowing what they wanted to do, we could easily built that into the itinerary and it kept them motivated. Yes, we did have some grumpy moments (due to lack of food or sleep) but I’m sure the kids loved the unique opportunity of spending time in new countries and were looking forward to sharing their new impressions back at home. Having a camera which captured some of our funny moments certainly helped, too! What do you do when travelling with your children? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

Until next time,

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