Travelling with toddlers and babies can be overwhelming. Just getting everyone out and ready for a trip to the grocery store can seem insurmountable so adding a plane, train or rental car to the equation complicates things even further. Here are a few tips for parents willing to tackle the challenge:
Do your research and arm yourself with information. Create a plan for each day of your trip: make an itinerary, know where you want to go and when you want to be there. When you’re travelling alone it can be fun and charming to get lost and meander down empty streets, add a hungry and tired toddler to the equation and it becomes considerably less pleasant. Plus, traveling as a large family can get very expensive so it’s important to do your research ahead of time. There’s a wealth of information online, on official tourist sites and sites like TripAdvisor, about family-friendly activities, events and restaurants that won’t cost you the earth. Doing your research to find the cheapest and most convenient way to get to a holiday destination can also keep costs and stress to a minimum. GoEuro for example, can help by comparing flight prices in addition to alternative coach and rail options, which could save you hours of stress at the airport.
Seems a little bit counterintuitive after hearing about the importance of research but even the best laid plans can be put to a halt by a tantrum. You can plan a whole day of fun but if your kids just aren’t in the mood, then there is nothing wrong with abandoning the itinerary and taking the kids back to the hotel for a nap if you need an hour of peace. Prioritise the things you absolutely want to do and try to split them up into separate days: pick one big thing every day and spend some time getting the kids excited about the plan. It’s a heck of a lot easier to get everyone on board for a single big activity, than a couple of smaller ones and it makes the day run that much more smoothly.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing accommodation with a good location can be key to reducing stress while away. Having your hotel or apartment located downtown with all you need within walking distance will save you the hassle of taking the buggy on public transport to get to your planned activity. With websites like Trivago and Booking.com, you can find affordable deals in sought after locations. If you’re staying in one place try opting for a self-catered apartment. Give the kids (and yourself) some room to relax and stretch out. No need to worry about waking up the neighbours with crying in the middle of the night. Best thing of all is that you get your own kitchen. Find your closest grocery store on your first day and buy a couple of things for the duration of your stay: getting everyone up and out the door for breakfast can be a challenge so grab some dry cereal or a couple of yogurt cups to keep everyone happy and fed first thing in the morning.
Snack on the Go
That grocery store trip on the first day is key! Pick up snacks for on the go as well as for the hotel room. Getting around in a foreign city can be challenging and you’re bound to get lost at some point, a quick granola bar can save you the lunch time meltdown when you’re already at your wit’s end. Speaking of snacks, they will be your salvation on the plane. Pressure changes at takeoff and landing which makes most adults feel a little bit uncomfortable, imagine a child experiencing it for the first time. A new snack, especially hardboiled sweets, can be a fun distraction and also a great way of avoiding the inevitable ear popping that accompanies the first few minutes after takeoff. Mothers of infants might even consider nursing during landing and takeoff as it can help with the pressure change.