I’d like to introduce you to my first ever guest poster! The lovely TK from Sand In My Toes.
Tarana Khan (or just TK!) is mom to a toddler. She loves writing and has done her stints as a copywriter, reporter and content editor, before embracing parenthood full time. She blogs at Sand In My Toes, where you can drop by to read more of her parenting and other adventures! You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
I loved the idea of travelling around the world since I was a child, but having become a mother, it seems like a tall order now! Since my son was born two years ago, we’ve travelled only back home (we are expats in Dubai). It was because actually planning a holiday seemed like a momentous task given that even grocery shopping can be so challenging with a toddler! We took the plunge, however, when we recently went on a ten-day holiday to the UK, undertaking seven hours of air travel! When Mary suggested I guest post for her, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I learnt from that trip, and what you could keep in mind when planning your next one! Babies require another level of planning, but these eight tips could come in handy for parents of toddlers and young children.
Tips for a stress-free holiday with kids!
1. Pick the right flight schedule – Some children can fall asleep anywhere, while others will react strongly even to the smallest changes. If you’re taking a flight longer than five hours, consider your child’s sleep routine. In my case, I knew we’d be better off taking a day flight after having a good night’s rest. I think it’s easier to take small naps on a flight rather than an uninterrupted night’s sleep. However, there are parents who swear by night flights because their children sleep right through it! Choose what suits you best. Don’t forget to add two to three hours of airport time both ways.
2. Pack food. Lots of it – Don’t depend on the airport cafes and the airline to cater to your child’s picky palette. Pack lots of their favourite snacks, a few (okay, lots of) treats and plan for delays. When it comes to food, you know what will keep your children happy. While on the holiday, you will also have to relax your nutritional standards. At some point, you will worry more about if they are eating than what they are eating! Our toddler decided to snack only on fries and white chocolate on our trip, and we couldn’t do much about it! Also, in a country where you are not certain about buying fruits from an open market, packed and canned foods are always safer. The last thing you want to deal with is a stomach bug.
3. Plan the entertainment – Travelling with young children gives you the additional responsibility of entertaining them, mainly on the flight, but also on any other long commute you have ahead of you. Try to avoid handing them an electronic device for hours at a time if you don’t want to deal with headaches and sleep disturbances later. Instead, offer them last after toys, books and board games. I took along some new toys and books just for the flight, and it definitely kept the little one busy!
4. Research your destination thoroughly – You may want to check some travel forums to see what facilities your destination offers for children. See if they have changing rooms and playgrounds, for instance. You may also want to read up on what establishments are child-friendly and what the local cultural norms are on breastfeeding, and such. Of course, make a list of all places that would be of interest to your children.
5. Have a realistic itinerary – No doubt, you would want to do everything while you’re out on your hard-earned vacation. However, it helps to keep a realistic approach. It won’t be worth seeing an overcrowded tourist attraction when you have to deal with tantrums from tired kids. Be prepared to make changes to your itinerary at any time, and have a shorter list of places that you really want to see and focus on it first. Another tip is to plan your trip during weekdays when you will encounter fewer crowds. We were surprised by the relatively short queue at London Eye when we were expecting worse, because we went there on a working day!
6. Expect behavioural changes – Your normally docile child may become impossible, or your active one may not want to run around so much. It’s not easy for children to adjust to new sights and sounds easily, so be prepared for changes in behaviour, sleep patterns and eating habits. We thought our toddler would love seeing new places and he did, but he also became very clingy, understandably – because he was outside familiar surroundings.
7. Be prepared for illness – I hate to say this, but kids tend to fall ill with abrupt changes in the weather. Even if it is a cold, you will have to slow down a bit. Carry all important medications, a first aid kit, and don’t forget the travel insurance.
8. Plan for after-holiday rest – This might sound strange, but don’t expect your children to quickly return to their old selves as soon as they get back home. Give them at least a few days until they go back to daycare or school because they will be tired and their body clocks may need adjusting if you’ve travelled far from your time zone.
Most of all, don’t forget to take in the sights and sounds! Holidays bring with them memories you will cherish forever, and even if there are a few bumps on the road, the journey is always worth it.
Thank you TK for some great tips 🙂