Today I’m featuring a guest post from Aileen Pablo.
Aileen is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Hospitality and Toursim Courses and TESOL courses. When not working, Aileen blogs about travel, lifestyle, and beauty tips. She is also often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines. You can find her on Google+.
When is family travel too much? Here’s what Aileen says (along with a few tips!):
Fussy children, frequent potty breaks and “I’m hungry” resounding at every turn — sound familiar? It’s easy to see why many people view travel as something you should “get out of your system” before you settle down and start a family. What people often don’t consider is that traveling with the whole family, kids and all, can be an enriching and life changing experience, one that children and parents alike will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Travel gives children an insight into different cultures, helps them develop their communication and language skills and ultimately enables them grow into well-rounded adults who have a clear picture of the world beyond their own backyard. But, that said, we’re not going to try to pull the wool over your eyes and send you off on the trip from hell with a patronizing speech about enhancing your child’s cultural awareness. Traveling with kids is tricky; there is no doubt about it. Long-term travel becomes especially complicated with smaller children, who crave routine and don’t take well to unexpected disruptions.
Depending how old your children are, you may need to limit yourself to certain distances, activities and countries. How much travel is too much travel will depend on your child’s personality and ability to adapt to new situations.
If you have decided that the time is right to take some time out and travel with your family, (and we’re not talking about a two day trip to Disney World) just remember that the key to successful family travel is having a well thought out plan covering everything from where you’ll spend the night to whether or not the train you’ll be on for an hour has a toilet available.
Here are a few tips to help you survive your first trip as a family, and hopefully even enjoy yourself along the way.
Packing for your trip is always difficult when kids are involved. You want to bring enough, but not so much that you’ll be paying overweight charges at the airport, lugging heavy bags up and down stairs or obstructing your view out the rear window of your car.
This is where your meticulous planning will come in handy, because hopefully you will have thought about how and where you’ll be doing your laundry along the way. If you have a way of washing laundry regularly it will save you from having to pack too many changes of clothes. Always have one clean change of clothes in your carry on, though, just in case of spills or accidents.
Wet wipes, hand sanitizer and Kleenex will be your new best friend, and be sure to bring entertainment for long flights or car rides. This can be anything from books and magnetic puzzles to portable DVD players and Nintendo.
Also, don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks and drinks to ease the hunger pangs till you can stop for a proper meal, although too much drink also means lots of bathroom breaks, so use your discretion. Portable first aid kits are also good to have along for scrapes and cuts.
Plan to travel at night
If you have a long flight, car ride or train trip to make, try to plan it so that the greater part of the journey will be at night, or for shorter journeys, towards your child’s nap time. This will give you some much needed peace and quiet while your kids nod off.
Bring a stroller
A stroller can be a lifesaver, even if your child is a bit older and doesn’t normally use one. Long stretches at airports or sightseeing tours will tire a child out more quickly than you realize, making them cranky or mischievous. Having a handy seat on wheels gives them a chance to rest and you won’t be stuck carrying a 20 pound child around. Be sure to bring a stroller that is easy to open and close and isn’t too heavy or cumbersome when not in use.
Children will be able to tell if you are feeling stressed or nervous, and this feeling will be passed on to them. If you can remain calm and relaxed, everything will go much more smoothly. Remember that practice makes perfect, and the more you travel, the easier it will become.
All great suggestions! Thanks so much Aileen.