7 Tips for Traveling with Kids
While traveling is fun, no one can deny that adding a child changes the overall experience.
Down from the potty-packing to the hotel room with a cot; the nitty gritty of little ones can either make or break your trip. Age can make all the difference; a family with an infant will give priority to rooms that come with a cot. Pre-school kids will need a child-minder and teens will require a destination with enough physical activities! So, what about a family with the three different age-groups under the same booking? These seven proven tactics can help you cut out the stress and enjoy your holiday.
1. Plan Together
Apart from making each of the family members feel involved , planning together allows the children insights into the family’s principles. For instance, the lesson in sharing what is available and sacrificing a little comfort for the one who might need it more. For instance backpacks and suitcases may be shared thus limiting the number of toys, while an older child may need to give up space next to dear mommy for the sake of the younger one. Allow the children to be adventurous and expressive throughout the planning process. It’s a great booster to their self-esteem to know that their input is valued when making such a ‘big’ decision.
2. The Law and the Minor
You don’t want to be stuck at the airport lounge with an expired passport or an unstamped letter of consent on the morning of their ‘trip of a lifetime.’ Find out beforehand the legal requirements of minors at the point of exit and in the country of your destination. Chris Oketch, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya advises, “Guardians traveling with a minor must bear a letter of consent from the parents. Parents must produce some sort of proof as a safeguard against child trafficking and abduction. In the same breath, single parents whose child’s birth certificate bears the name of the absent parent must also display consent (to travel across-border with the child) from the missing partner.”
3. Fitting Your Packing List into the Suitcase!
Whether for a short road trip, an adventurous train ride down the countryside or a winding eight-hour flight across the globe, you will need to pack both your patience and your prudence when organizing your luggage. Always use a standard packing list to ensure you remember everything – write it in advance when you are not rushed, or use a downloadable checklist from the internet. Customize it according to your children’s ages. An infant might need disposable changing pads, pacifier, a stroller and even a car seat. Primary school children will get excited at the thought of drawing and coloring whatever they discover along the journey while teenagers will require a few apps, camera, books etc. Involve your children in the packing to ensure that everyone knows what to bring and what not to bring.
4. Vaccines and your First Aid Kit
Although most immigration offices adhere to the standard CDC requirements, it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile. Talk to your pediatrician for any recommendations on the travelling minor; this may include dietary advice as well as guidelines over general health response away from the usual environment. Pack your first aid kit, as well as supplements and medication for chronic conditions. Find out the packing guidelines for any bottles and vials, as these might be restricted to checked-in luggage.
5. Choosing Your Hotel
If you are not living with a host family or renting out homestays, the most ideal package would be a family cottage designed to include the family’s diverse needs. If not available, request for an extra bed or baby cot in your room at the time of booking to confirm availability. Check too for necessities such as a tuck shop or nearby supermarket that will help in replenishing any dwindling suppliers such as diapers and formula milk. Extra services such as baby-sitting, fun activities and child minders within the hotel will come in handy especially when you need to catch a breath and relax from long hours of sugar rush adventures!
6. Track and Trace: Your Baby’s Safety is Your Security!
Whether in a church, wedding or just taking a trip down the vegetable racks of the mall across the road, we all know how our incredibly energetic little ones can disappear from right by your side to no-where in sight just in a flash of a second. Multiply that to envision bad the airport lobby can get. In this era of track and trace, there is no better deal than getting your brood a set of handy child locators, or perhaps a leash for energetic toddlers! This means that your raging little feet can take the freedom to roam and explore without causing you panic.
7. Minding Your Check-ins
While it is good practice to check-in online prior to your flight, nothing can spoil your trip than having to part ways with some of your baby-belongings before boarding. Find out ahead of time what is acceptable and not, for instance, how many bottles of formula milk can you pack? What sizes of baby feeding bottles are acceptable and for breastfeeding moms, enquire on any specification for breast pumps. You don’t want to run into a fiasco similar to celebrity Alyssa Milano, (pictured above) whose breast milk was confiscated by Heathrow airport security. It’s also important to get advice regarding the plane’s specifications on booster seats or any other child restraint devices.