1. Take your time and Book ahead. The greatest thing you can take – whether at the airport, sightseeing or getting from A to B – is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don’t care for the time pressures of travel, so you’re more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the faffing, gawping, stalling, toilet stops and tantrums into your time frame. Whether you’re camping or staying in hotels, it pays to book ahead. Trying to retain the spontaneity of travel BC (Before Children) doesn’t pay off if you arrive at your destination to find you can’t bag a bed or pitch and have to hit the road again with tired, hungry toddlers melting down in the backseat.
2. Be prepared for the climate. It’s simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain will be happier in a new environment. With all the gear available, there’s no excuse to be stranded looking for shops at God knows what time, only to find dressing toddlers in warm clothing four sizes too big, forgetting their gloves, or on the other end of the scale only having warm clothes resulting in leaving them barefoot on a beach where sea urchins, crabs, and the like lurk.
3. Think about the Time Zones. Sometimes if you are traveling abroad you can’t choose where you travel, but when you do have a choice, consider how many time zones you want to cross with young kids. Jet lag can be brutal for adults, and it’s worse with toddlers who often take several (painful) days to adjust. If you have toddlers likely save crossing the Ocean until the kids are a bit older and able to entertain themselves once you’re home and all you want to do is sleep!
4. When it comes to health, find a good travel clinic for your family to ensure you’ve considered health concerns. They will help you research which vaccines are necessary for travel and which regions have a high incidence of malaria so that you can take precautions. Start your online research here. Be aware that most insurance companies don’t cover these optional vaccines. From my experience, AAR is a good choice for health cover. Also don’t forget to pack any medication you or your child is on. Sometimes, when it comes to road trips or even travelling by air your child may get motion sickness, be prepared for this. If it’s an older child, let them have a pain killer, some gum, and a whole lot of water.
5. Pack hand sanitizer and Snacks. Especially when on a road trip and in the car, at random points in your journey your children will complain about wanting something to eat, probably even more than usual. Out of boredom, and excitement, and sometimes they are actually just hungry. Make sure to pack fun snacks that can be munched along the way like crisps and cookies, or even go the healthy route and pack popped corn, ground nuts, and a few fruits that are easy to eat like cut up oranges and apples. This is not a meal though, so be prepared to stop on the way for a family lunch, which will also give you a chance to kick up your feet and relax from driving for an hour or so.