Undoubtedly, vacations are usually memorable and mesmerising experiences for children. They reminisce about goats bleating at Grandma’s, occasionally recall their first taste of local delicacies and perhaps, intrigued by pictures of famous world landmarks.
But if you can afford to kick it up a notch, embarking on a family trip abroad might be rewarding. Although, it may come at a price if it’s your first time and intend renting a self-catering accommodation or staying with friends or family but the breathtaking sights of the Statue of Liberty, London’s double-decker buses or the magical rides at Disney World, Florida may become resounding highlights of their childhood.
So, having tackled the task of packing, unpacking, boarding the aircraft and trying to keep them occupied, quite stressful, I’ve shared few tips on how to plan vacationing with children.
1. Book ahead
Book ahead to grab great deals, double check your travel arrangements well before you leave and if travelling with kids aged under 2, ask if the airline would provide meals for them. Some don’t but you could request for an adult meal or pack some cereal or toddler food (if your child enjoys it) and ask the flight attendant to re-heat it, they wouldn’t mind. More so, leave on time as children tend to faff about, stall and throw tantrums when out and about.
2. Dressing for the climate
Always consider the season or climate of the country you intend visiting and pack appropriate clothing and footwear. Children are happier when suitably dressed for the weather. During winter, ensure to dress them in several warm layers that can be put on or taken off easily. Also, hats to covers the ears, neck warmers or scarves depending on the child’s age, warm water proof boots and gloves. In summer, they wouldn’t need as much except light but preferably cotton clothing, walking shoes or sandals and water to keep them rehydrated during stifling temperatures.
Knowing where and how to shop for great bargains is equally important. It’s cost effective to buy clothes one or two sizes ahead of your children’s actual age. Reason being, some sizes are on the small size and kids grow quickly. In the UK, there are budget clothing stores like Primark, Matalan, TK Maxx or even NEXT outlets. TK Maxx is the hub for big brands at a ridiculous value so you could pick up beautiful designer outfits and accessories at insanely affordable prices.
In America or Canada, The Children’s Place is a popular store with brilliant discount deals on staple wears such as jeans, tee shirts, skirts, shorts etc. During summer, you may get quite a lot for your money. Ross is another amazing store that sells latest brand fashion names which shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Don’t worry, they also have TJ Maxx in the US and Marshalls in Canada, same great designer deals on fashion for the entire family.
4. Plan family activities (including yours)
If renting self-catering accommodation , you can either cook or eat out at your own convenience and choose activities that you’ll all enjoy as you’re also on holiday. To avoid any disappointments, read up about interesting places to visit and things to do as some attractions may have age restrictions or have longer queues at popular rides. On the other hand, if staying with friends or family, they may know most of the fun places and happy to show you around town. Still, you wouldn’t want to put them out-of-pocket or expect them to always chauffeur you so if possible, try to make some plans on your own.
5. Toys & books
It can be quite tricky and tiring, keeping kids occupied. Naturally, they would be irritable and create quite a fuss, especially for toddlers. Although in-flight entertainment is available but having their favourite toy, books or colouring book with crayons could help pacify them. More so, while sightseeing, you could give them a toy camera to encourage them observe their surrounding and focus on what might interest them.
Budgeting on holiday might seem distasteful but doesn’t mean you can’t buy nice things. List what you actually need, to avoid paying for excess luggage or ship bulky items via reliable freighting companies. With shipping, inquire about reputable companies from colleagues, friends or family.
7. Medicine, sanitizers & antibacterial wipes
Children usually fall ill on vacation, and this could be due to reasons such as being out of routine, a little more unhealthy eating, jet lag, broken nights or climate change. They could develop a fever so pack easy-to-swallow medicine or 100ml of children’s paracetamol in your luggage. Further, having wipes or sanitizers is essential when eating out or using public toilets. Keeping one in your handbag minimises the risk of children catching common bugs.
8. Good behaviour
A deposit may be required to cover any damages done to self-catering accommodation so keep a close eye on the kids. Also friends or family may find particular behaviour such as jumping on beds, sofas or writing on walls unwelcoming.
My kids love commuting by public transportation whenever it’s available. They get to see a lot more and are intrigued by the colourful buses, taxis, and striking features. Hiring a car is useful when embarking on long journeys, but good public transport is another exhilarating treat for the kids.