Top 5 tips for travelling with young kids

For many parents, the thought of travelling with their little ones is out of the question. Kids can be hard work and, if they’re also away from familiar surroundings, won’t it just be too difficult? Plus they probably won’t remember it, little Freddie will be teething and isn’t the money better spent elsewhere?

We’re not here to tell you it will be easy but travelling with young kids is possible and can even be better than travelling on your own! Spending quality time together bonds the family as you explore places outside your comfort zone and create precious memories to last a lifetime. Read our post: 10 reasons to travel with young kids. As you can probably guess, we absolutely love travelling with our boys (aged 2 and 3) and every trip we do together leaves us wanting more.

sunset
Hampi, India (May 2017)

There are so many tips we’ve picked up along our travels with the boys. Most of these aren’t really anything new, but if we had to whittle it down to our ultimate top 5, this would be it:

Change expectations from your travels pre-kids
Try to get out of your head any images of long afternoons lounging by the pool sipping cocktails. As a parent travelling with kids you still have to be ‘on’. Kids are just as demanding and unpredictable away from home. But, travelling provides you with a constantly changing backdrop to take on those daily parent chores and with new adventures to experience together, daily life becomes all the more rewarding. Plan your daily activities around the kids and if the kids are happy, the parents are happy.

However, even Supermums and Superdads need a break from childcare, so plan this into your travels and give each parent a few hours off now and then. Also, try and stay somewhere with a balcony, roof top, or even a spare room; anything to avoid spending your evenings in a darkened room on your phone whilst your darlings sleep. If all else fails, there’s always bathroom beers.

bathroom_beers
Beers in the bathroom, in PJs, Jay seated in the buggy #parentingwin (Copenhagen 2017)

Talk to them about the travels
Show them where they are travelling to in an atlas, find photographs and watch YouTube videos. Print out pictures of things they will see on their travels and make a collage. Collect items on your travels to bring home to talk about on your return. By involving them as much as possible, they too will get excited and their little minds will be prepared for what they are about to experience. Although try to keep it vaguely realistic, our boys are rather disappointed they haven’t seen any tigers walking down the streets of Bangalore yet.

atlas
You can buy this beautiful children’s atlas here on Amazon.

Don’t do too much
New places, people and cultures can be a sensory overload for little minds. Don’t try and cram too much into your day. Otherwise you may end up with grouchy, stroppy, overtired kids… and parents. You know your own kids, don’t push them too far.

Similarly, make sure there are things to keep them entertained at your accommodation. Even if there’s a pool (they can’t be swimming all the time), pack some books, stickers and craft activities to keep them busy. Try and avoid packing loads of toys. We all know the majority have a novelty value of two minutes.

Try and stick to their routine as much as possible
With so much change, the familiarity of routine is comforting. Try to keep nap times the same and also consider they may need to sleep for longer. If you have kids that don’t usually nap, it’s still best if they get some downtime in the middle of the day. If it’s a few hours journey to the next destination, we often time this with naptime/downtime. Also, read their favourite books before bedtime and pack the comforter (and it’s twin!).

Pack the kids’ tablet
Our boys each have the Amazon kids’ tablet in blue. I know, I know… screen time is bad. But for long flights, delayed trains and when the kids wake at 5:30am and there’s no TV in your hotel… it’s Paw Patrol to the rescue! Load it up with their favourite shows, films and apps (although you’ll probably find that the 5000+ games, apps, vidoes and books with the 1 year of Fire for Kids Unlimited is more than enough). Also, there’s a 2-year worry-free guarantee: if it breaks, just return it and Amazon will replace it for free. No questions asked.

tablets.jpeg

 

Top tips for travelling with young kids
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You may also like to read:
10 reasons to travel with young kids
Accommodation Check-list
Gifts for the young traveller

 

30 thoughts on “Top 5 tips for travelling with young kids

  1. Pamela Goward

    Some very useful tips here. Travelling with kids is going to be tiring, but with toddlers isn’t exhaustion the norm anyway? At least you all experince different places and cultures, and a change is as good as a rest anyhow. Nana is looking forward to visiting Bangalore in the New Year.

  2. Love these tips! Especially the beers in the bathroom, hahaha. Now, why didn’t we think of that!? 😉 Only after 10 months of being together with the three of us 24/7 I realised how important it is for each parent to have some ‘time off’. Definitely a tip we’ll take to heart when we start traveling long term again! #FearlessFamTrav

  3. Momma To Go

    beers in the bathroom I LOVE IT! One time we actually put my sons Pack N Play in the bathroom in a small hotel room and then I had to pee… so yeah the garbage can…. I was way to afraid to wake him he was teh worst sleeper! Love this post! My kids are 5 & 8 now so a little easier to just all go to bed around the same time! Although they both have ipads!

  4. I still try and do too much with my LO – that is one good tip that I really should try to follow. And I can’t wait for the day that I can distract her with a tablet – she’s just not into them yet. #fearlessfamtrav

    1. Oh yes – Blaze! Brilliant stuff. We just have to make sure we have the right shows downloaded before we leave the UK as we can’t stream all the free stuff here in India. So we also have a memory card for extra storage space 🙂 #Fearlessfamtrav

  5. pigeonpairandme

    This is a great post – I agree that a bit of screen time can really help you through a tough journey. Loved your beer in the bathroom pic. D and I once did the same, in the corridor just outside our hotel room! #Fearlessfamtrav

  6. These are all great tips! We try to do two vacations a year one with the kids and one without. We’re still working up to out of the country with them but we will get there. #fearlessfamtrav

  7. I loved your Hampi post so much just jumped to read this one. As others have said, Beers in the Bathroom – genuis!!!! Really loved your About Us page and that you travelled to Ausralia without flying and on a freight ship. (I tried to get to South America from Australia on a ship; didn’t happen though). Last year we actually tried to start going Screen Free a lot of the time. It took a long time to break the habits, but we are getting there. Mind you, we are not on the road a lot of the time and not in India.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read so much of our blog. I can imagine that down the road (excuse the pun!) we may need to reign in the screen time a bit!
      We actually looked into Australia to S America years ago via freighter. There weren’t many options. I think you had to get to NZ…

  8. Great tips. I’m all for the tablet with our son when travelling. It’s pretty much the only time he gets it. And it definitely helps with boredom on the plane or if delayed in the airport! #fealressfamtrav

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