Meltdowns in the street, vomit in the car and that dreaded statement of, “I’m bored,” continue to curse family holidays the world over. Travelling with kids is always going to be an adventure that’s split between magical moments and holiday hell. However, that’s never going to stop us from going, right?
1. Slow things down
No matter where you’re going on holiday, chances are you’ll need to double the estimated travel time when the kids are going too. While rushing around at home is often a normal part of everyday routine, this feeling amplifies to meltdown stage if it’s a plane, bus or train you’re rushing to catch. And, the person melting down is probably going to be you!
The key is to slow everything down by leaving ample time, and then some, in the planning stage. Don’t book flights with quick connections or pay in advance for activities with rigid time restrictions. Leave plenty of time to get to the airport or station. Make sure everyone’s had a snack and gone to the bathroom before getting off a plane, to avoid dramas during long waits at customs or baggage claims. Want to be on the road by 9am to arrive at lunchtime? Leave for your road trip two hours earlier.
2. Book a hotel for the kids
It could be tempting to book the kids into their own hotel after the twentieth ‘boredom’ tantrum of the day. Failing that, the next best thing is to book a hotel that suits the kids in the first place. When you’re researching, look a little further than the pool and a family room.
Does the hotel offer a dedicated kids’ pool? A playground? Menus for children? Cot and stroller hire? Babysitting services? Kids clubs? The more facilities a hotel has for children, the better chances there are of other kids being there too. You know what that means? It’s back to lazing by the adult pool for you.
3. Take packing seriously
What you pack, and often what you don’t pack, makes all the difference to your state of mind. First of all, what can you eliminate by buying or hiring it there? Strollers, car seats and cots are literally huge inconveniences, so relieve yourself of the responsibility if you can.
Know that overpacking is a major cause of headaches on holidays, so write down a list of essentials and don’t be tempted by the ‘just in case’ items. You’ll want to throw them away when you’re carrying heavy bags and a toddler or two.
When you’re in transit without suitcases, always check that you have everything you need for a day in a backpack, in case of luggage delays. It’s handy to gather a couple of brand new toys, activities or books to whip out in meltdown moments. There’s nothing like something new to holt a tantrum in its tracks (and no one on the planet will judge you for bribery on holidays).
4. Gear up for adventure
Children lose their parents all the time, whether deliberately or not, so it’s best to prepare for the inevitable. If you’re visiting busy tourist attractions, deck the kids out in bright colours and write your phone number on a cool wristband they can wear. Don’t forget to take snacks, as they may not find anything they like there. Bandaids and antiseptic are always a good idea.
Most importantly, to turn meltdowns into magical moments, pack your sense of humour and don’t stop expecting the unexpected.