Travelling with kids does not have to be a major drama. So many new parents are scared to go off travelling with their new children. Although it may be best to wait until your kids are over 5 (5 and 7 works great!) it can be one of the best experiences you have as a family, whenever you choose to do it.
The secret ingredients to an easy, fun-filled trip when travelling with kids is to pay attention to their needs. Ensure you find a balance between plenty of rest time whilst also having lots of activities for them to do along the way.
The golden rule here is, bored and overtired kids can easy develop a heavy dose of “the cranks”.
Let’s not forget here, your style of travelling has now officially changed from solo travellers to family travellers. You can still have as much fun, if not even more fun, with this new style of travelling… you just need to follow some of these guidelines we have developed to ensure you stand a chance of winning on tour with kids.
HOT TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH KIDS
1. NO HURRYING
The first rule of travelling with children is… No hurrying! As a couple you could hurry around and tour a large number of sites within a single day. Kids don’t find hurrying fun, they think it is tiring. Be sensible about what you can do and see with children in tow. You should not attempt to cram an excessive amount into your itinerary. The less you are feeling you need to see, the more enjoyable and stress-free the trip will be for everybody.
Typically, the pace of your tour ought to be set as to what your youngest child can handle. Build into your schedule important time for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, and nap time. If you’re able to avoid cranky children it’ll make for an infinitely more enjoyable experience.
2. DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Sit down with your entire family and discuss your travelling interests. Memorable outings remembered by each individual in the family will be achieved if each member gets to experience something they love. Discuss budgets, anticipation, and just how you are able to use your budget to plan a thrilling holiday.
As Travel Experts (self-proclaimed, but we’ve been to 28 countries, you know!), we have discovered the most effective family holidays occur when both children and parents have been involved in selecting locations and planning their trip. These conversations are important, because you don’t want to come back from the family holiday only to find little junior didn’t have a very good time. Become familiar with each another’s dreams and needs for the upcoming adventure and be sure to brainstorm locations and activities to match everyone’s dreams and needs.
Staying away from holiday periods and travelling off-season can save your the big bucks on plane tickets and accommodation. Even when your children are still in school, consider travelling just outside major school holiday breaks.
Be proactive in hunting for the best flights (we have the best flights available right from this website, you know!) way ahead of time to ensure you have the best opportunity to capture inexpensive flights. Departing a couple of days or perhaps days after or before your ideal date can often mean the main difference of 100’s of dollars. Consider using airfare sales notifications (follow our Aussie On Tour Facebook page for mega sales!) to assist and determine your destination and duration of departure instead of the other way round.
4. WHAT TO PACK
You should pack the bare minimum since you can always purchase cheap options when you’re there, wherever that might be. Roll clothes and stuff socks and under garments inside footwear. Put on your heaviest clothes for the airplane ride. Encourage kids to select and pack their very own clothes to reduce complaints and also to train travel skills.
Choose versatile and comfy clothes and color-match separates so that if something is to get dirty you can just change a small area of your outfit. Pack bags to ensure what you need for the flight is on the very top.
5. HOTEL TIPS
Choose a Child-Friendly Location – Book a secure and central area that’s near local points of interest; food shops, the beach, the park, idealy within walking distance. This can save you time, money (on taxis), as well as prevent your kids from becoming bored.
Stay Longer Than One Night – Many hotels provide their finest deals whenever you stay over several evenings.
Sunday Night Stays – Many hotels receive Friday and Saturday evening reservations from leisure seekers and Monday-Friday reservations from their business vacationers, so there might be a few holes on Sunday nights, making the rooms or villas a little cheaper.
Look for Family Deals – Always request reduced rates, free food for kids, as well as free upgrades at sign in – they can only say no, right?
A Swimming Pools and Play Rooms – Children love these two options. Will the pool have added bonus fun things (like slides or waterfalls or balloons)?
Lift Accesibility – Transporting baby strollers, toys, and heavy luggage up several stairs isn’t any fun for the Dad. Although a lift isn’t necessary every night, some nights Dad is going to need a night off from all that heavy lifting!
Sleeping Arrangements – For a group, are two double beds needed or perhaps a portacot or just one double bed and two singles? Be sure when you first make your hotel or villa booking, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Having a decent night’s sleep makes for happy children the next day, remember. Also, be sure not to pay for extra things like portacot loans. Most hotels let you have portacots for free.
Discount Coupons – Most people find hotels and villas have brochures inside the lobby that offer special deals or discount rates for tourists on selected tours and adventures. Be sure to pick these up to help save a few dollars when you’re there.
Eating at the Hotel – Does the hotel restaurant or room service possess a children’s menu? Remember, a happy kid equals a happy holiday.
Television Channels – Although you’re not on holiday to watch TV, when you want to take a 30-minute break from your last 4-hour touring adventure, does the hotel offer several family-oriented cable stations, like Disney, Nickelodeon, AMC, Discovery and Lifetime? What is the movie library like with childrens’ movies?
Bath Time – Do your kids still take baths? Most people forget to check if there’s a bathtub and find it hard for the kids to take only showers every night.
Laundry – If your holiday is lasting longer than 3 days, determine if the hotel has coin-operated washing machines or a laundry service. Otherwise, what are you going to do? Spend hours washing clothes in the bathroom sink and then hang them all dripping wet around the room?
6. MAYBE YOU SHOULD OPT FOR A CRUISE INSTEAD?
With onboard activities for every generation, food options to match any age, and itineraries that can either be full-on or else let you just sit around and do nothing at all, cruising with children may very well be your best option. Some cruises offer free tickets for children, some offer free food… Why don’t you use our AussieCruises website (or just choose some options over there in a Cruise Widget) to check your options before you start booking flights and hotel rooms all over the place.
7. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED AN APARTMENT OR VILLA?
Most large-city rooms in hotels weren’t designed for families with young children. They often don’t have refrigerators or microwave ovens, space on the floor is confined, and neighbors can hear every outburst. With an apartment or villa you receive extra space, thicker walls, a kitchen, a washer, and separate sleeping rooms. For a little more money it could make for a much happier experience. Visit our AussieHotels.com website for apartment and villa options.
8. PERFORM A TEST-RUN
If this is your first serious family-trip, consider beginning with a shorter trip like a weekend away down-south or maybe camping for two nights a few hours away from your house. This should help you determine packing options, daily programs, how quickly you are able to move about, and just how all of you get on and interact together when you’re out of your safe and comfortable house.
9. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET
Travelling with kids doesn’t have to be so costly. Pick a comfortable budget that works for the family and can include memorabilia. For example; souvenirs, entertainment, along with a couple of unpredicted activities. Once more involve your children to make certain they understand your departure date and plans.
Every so often we recommend you blow your everyday budget. We travel to make unforgettable experiences and lifelong happy memories. Don’t fly all the way to America and not go to Disneyland, so to speak. It’s fine to splurge on the famous restaurant, visit a large concert, attend a mega sports event, take a safari, go skydiving, do something memorable!
10. ME TIME
Regardless of who you are, everybody requires a break from the family sooner or later. While the aim of your holiday is to create special shared magical moments, there also comes a time for the youngsters to revel in their own energy at times. Every second or third day, you might want to use the hotel babysitting options so your children can play with other children. Perhaps most importantly, let’s not forget that you’ve been working hard yourself at home, and you may need a few hours to have a few cocktails or just spend some quality time with your other half.
Let your children bring along a couple of items they enjoy from home. Like a stuffed toy, books, or perhaps an iPad (if they’re old enough). Activity packs could be a lifesaver on the flight and car rides. Maybe have a special, easy-to-carry bag that has easy to access fun and games, to keep the children occupied at times when they could get bored or homesick.
12. TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS
Consider giving your son or daughter notepad along with a cheap camera. Some children will love to draw the things they see and some children just have a natural eye for photography. Either way, think of how much fun you can have with your kids when you get home and make a special “our holiday” scrapbook or collage together. Another good idea is to purchase small trinkets or postcards from various destinations that they can also use in the collage when they get home.
13. EATING EXPENSES
Dining out every meal can cost huge amounts of money and eat away at the family travel budget quite quickly.
Venture out in the morning or for lunch instead of dinner. Try to avoid dinner at restaurants as this is where you will spend the most money. Maybe have brunch at the restaurant instead of all 3 main meals each day. Many restaurants offer lunch special offers where products around the dinner menu can be found for a small fraction of the price you’d pay for the similar meal at night.
Don’t eat in the popular tourist sections – Why not try one street back, and you could find the hidden restaurants are a little cheaper and more authentic. Eat where the locals do. Ask some of the locals where they eat, away from the tourists. Perhaps get your meals from popular street carts (but beware the dodgy meat, always check the meat before you buy).
Self-Cater – On lengthy stays, self-contained accommodation with kitchen facilities becomes important. As does a fridge. This way, you can store breakfast, meals, snacks, and bottled water. Buying your personal supplies from the supermarket can help you save a lot of money eating out. Even buying a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of wine and having a drink before you go out can save you lots of money over 3 nights.
Free Breakfasts – When booking expensive hotels search for the ones who offer breakfast incorporated with the room. Then eat a big breakfast so you don’t need a big lunch. Also, have picnics, barbeque’s and house parties. This also saves a lot precious travel money.
14. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD
Always bring your own snacks on plane flights, buses and tours where practical. Lengthy car journeys, bus tours and plane trips can leave kids feeling cranky and hungry. Pack lots of snacks for yourself as well as your children. Don’t assume that you’ll have the ability to stop and purchase snacks on the way. Especially at international airport, as they generally double the price of everything because they know you’re a captive audience. Airport food is also very rarely healthy.
15. MILK THE FREEBEES
Lots of things to see and do in your destination are totally free. Visit a street fair, concert, or cultural event. Catch an impressive sunset, go for a walk or ride a bike, participate in park activities, go swimming by the pool or lake, trek a mountain. All free and massive fun!
Make use of free or cheap days. – Attend museums and tourist sites on days when they’re not as busy as chances are prices will be reduced. Most museums have particular discount periods. Prior to going anywhere, make certain you check online or on a local tourist Facebook page to discover when they offer cheap or family discount rates.
We don’t have to be totally stingy here, but let’s face it, the longer you can make your money last, the longer you can stay out on tour!
16. PLAN AHEAD
Finding accommodation when you turn up without booking beforehand can be tough with children with you. It’s certainly worth pre-booking a minimum of your first couple of nights, even when you need to be flexible in your travels. This will help you to search for other areas once you’re at your destination, knowing the kids at least have a roof over their head that night, as you try to find something better. And that in itself can be a great part of the adventure. Searching the city on your first day in search of better or more value for money accommodation.
Honestly, we give you two great options over at AussieHotels to find value-for-money accommodation before you land. Just book a single night if you like, then you can find better accommodation when you’re there.
17. DOCTORS ORDERS
If you are going overseas and also have children, be sure to attend your Doctors surgery a minimum of two weeks before leaving to go over your plans. Mention the age range of the children and produce everyone’s vaccination records. Request your Travel Doctor to make a note of their bloodstream groups for you personally and be sure to take this information with you.
18. THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
A pram or stroller can be a lifesaver, even when your son or daughter is walking. It may serve as a resting spot long walks, a makeshift mattress when eating out is taking longer than expected, and a great carrying-trolley when not in use by the kids.
19. SLEEP IN TRANSIT
When going for a lengthy flight, train, or bus trip, plan to do the long travelling overnight. This way you save on a night’s accommodation. This is assuming you can all sleep well in bus or plane chairs. Some people can, some people can’t.
20. EXPERIENCE NEW ADVENTURES TOGETHER
Existence is all about creating amazing memories. By experiencing new adventures together, your kids will see you experience something for the first time, at the exact same moment they do the same. Your sense of adventure and curiosity will excite them and help build adventurous confident personalities.
Learn how to kayak, snorkel, surf, or spot wildlife together. Maybe go snow skiing, fishing or surfing. Find something new for everyone in the family to do together and share the unknown excitement and pleasure of learning together.
21. DID SOMEONE SAY ROAD TRIP?!
There’s nothing more exhilarating than a road trip in a new country! Way more exciting than a movie or playing in your own backyard. Looking forward to getting to the destination is half the fun!
Just remember, take frequent breaks, generally every two hours. Expecting young children to sit down still more than that is impractical. You can stop for picnic breaks, historic monuments, public parks or perhaps a playground. Allow the kids to play and melt away dormant car-seat energy.
Be safe and pack lots of water, in case you break down. A first-aid package is also a good idea, along with a torch just in case you break down during the night. Call to make certain your car hire company’s roadside assistance plan is up-to-date and charge your phone in advance. If you use AirportCarHire.com.au, anywhere in the world, you’ll be in safe hands with your car hire.
Have your car rental completely examined before you drive it away. Ask if the oil has been changed, brakes inspected, lights are working and the hire car is completely safe to drive. Also, make sure all child car seats are installed correctly before signing the paperwork.
22. FLYING WITH CHILDREN
Have a change of garments on-board for both you and your baby, especially on the lengthy haul. Feeding your child by either bottle or breast when you’re taking off or commencing landing, may help them adjust their ears with the alternation in cabin pressure.
Keep exactly the same traditions as home if this involves bedtime. Place the kids in their pyjamas, read them a book (Grug or Mr Men are nice, short examples), and sing them tunes. And make certain they have their favourite toy or blanket.
Before disembarking, make certain they’ve been to the bathroom .. Believe me, standing in line for an hour or so in customs with hungry and tired children isn’t any fun!
If at all possible, fly direct on lengthy plane rides. Needing to change plane tickets mid-way at crazy hours of the morning isn’t fun for anybody. You need to arrive as fresh as you possibly can.
If your children are showing any signs of fear of flying, distract them by holding their hand and telling them stories they like.
Did you know you can book bassinets on lots of long flights? There are limited numbers though and first in wins.
If all else fails, have on hand a surprise bag of treats.
To pass the time, go for walks up and down the plane and do a LOT of coloring in. Unfortunately, although we don’t like to use iPads too much, they can sometimes help pass the time, especially learning games.
To aid in air pressure drama on their poor little eardrums, have them suck on a dummy or breastfeed.
23. UNBIASED TRAVEL
We travel to witness different cultures, conditions, and methods for thinking. It is not wise to shut yourself and your kids off from how other cultures live. The way you live at home is not necessarily the best way for human being to live. We need to travel with an unbiased viewpoint and respect the way other cultures live. Remember, YOU are the visitors. You may find yourself in certain situations when other cultures will shock you. Don’t judge them. At these times, just relax and tell your children …“This is quite different, it’s very interesting, isn’t it?!”
24. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN
No matter how much planning you do, things can and do often go wrong. Your only chance of salvaging a great holiday and memory of your holiday is to roll with everything that comes your way. Flexibility and patience is your friend here. Flight cancelled until tomorrow… Hotel room not ready for a few hours… You have to remember that you’re an Aussie On Tour and the rest of your family and friends are stuck at home going to work! Life is good and you’re on holiday. Your children are excited no matter what is happening, make every situation an adventure! These lessons will shape your children in years to come that negative experiences can instantly be turned into positive outcomes.
25. WHEN WE WE KIDS
Remember how you thought of the world when you were a child? Most of our parents weren’t in a situation to take us travelling around the world. Imagine if they were?! The fun you would have had! Make sure you give your children the greatest happiest travel experience of their lifetime. The travel experience you wish you had when you were a kid. They’ll love you more than you can imagine and their characters will always be filled with love and positivity.
26. AUSSIE ON TOUR
One last thing. You’re an Australian family, representing Australians, touring the world. Represent our awesome and lucky country well.