Planning and Packing for your Family Vacation
Hey Parents, gone are your honeymoon days when you would just throw in a few clothes and toiletries into your suitcase, grab your passport and credit card and you were ready for a vacation. You really need to be organized now, especially when you have a toddler! Everything has to be planned perfectly, and ahead of time if you don’t want to risk forgetting the diapers, wet wipes or your baby’s formula and of course, that favorite cuddly toy without which your baby can’t sleep!
Gone are the days when you would go hotel hopping and choose the best one. It’s now time to pre-plan your accommodation: research some child-friendly options and be specific about your requirements at the time of booking. It’s also a good option to carry your own Play Pen cum Carry Cot for your toddler (available on rent on ToyExpress.in). These are comfortable for sleep as well as play and portable too! After all, it’s best to keep yourself safe from last-minute challenges!
Don’t forget to book hotel transfers which can be done through a hotel or a private company. You wouldn’t want to wait in queues with a tired and howling toddler for a taxi. Also, at some places it’s mandatory to use Car Seats for kids. Do check on this beforehand, you may want to carry your own Car Seat (available on Rent on ToyExpress.in) or check for a Baby Gear Rental company near the hotel that you will be staying at.
And finally, research the activities that you wish to do. While planning all activities for you, do keep some time for at least one activity with your toddler – maybe a dip in the pool, playing on the beach or some fun in the playground.
Take it Slow and Leave Plenty of Time
Gone are the days when you would reach the airport just in time for the flight, clear the security and into the flight within 30 minutes. When travelling with kids, everything will take longer than you expect including leaving the house, checking in, security check, buying snacks or boarding the flight.
Things will go wrong – be prepared! So, reach the airport well before time. You definitely don’t want to miss your flight just because it took 10 extra minutes to get the stroller and bottles checked at the security! And then face the chaos of rescheduling the flight and unhappy children!
Choose the Destinations Wisely
You could choose the beaches, the mountains or the plains; everyone has a different liking! Do consider the weather before finalizing the destination of your choice. If the weather is comfortable the child is more likely to be happy.
BEACHES – Who doesn’t love beaches? You can relax, build sand castles, play with the waves or even be adventurous with some water sports. It’s a perfect family bonding vacation option! You could carry some Beach Toys for the kids to keep them happy and busy (Sand Pail Bucket, Beach Ball, Inflatable floats are a few to name – also available on Rent on ToyExpress.in) or just the sand and waves are also enough to keep them entertained. Add in visits to museums and sightseeing tours to soak into the culture of the place. Now, there’s something for everyone to be happy!
PLAINS – Don’t prefer the beach? How about a visit to the National Park? It’s a great stress buster for all nature lovers. Adults and kids of all ages enjoy the natural beauty. Even a one year old would love gazing at the trees while you are on a trek. Just put them in a Sling (available on Rent on ToyExpress.in) and you are ready to go! This trip will definitely leave the kids enriched with knowledge on Wild Animals and Forest Conservation!
MOUNTAINS – Nothing can beat mountains during the summer. Cool weather, a cycling tour in the hills, an uphill trek and the oh-so-scenic beauty. You may have to walk a lot up and downhill; don’t forget your most comfortable shoes and your baby’s light weight stroller (lots of them available on Rent on ToyExpress.in). Carrying a thermal water bottle is always a good option in the hills. You are most likely to find horse rides in most of the hill stations. These rides are really fascinating and enjoyable for the kids; do take a ride at least once a day! The most important point: Never leave your child unattended near the edge of the hill or cliff. It can be dangerous for our super active toddlers!
Creating an Itinerary
Always choose destinations and itineraries that are enjoyable to the whole family. There are some very popular activities in every destination which may require pre-booking to avoid last minute hassles and waiting period, and of course will save you some bucks too! Once you have some pre-planned activities, you can chalk out the plan for the rest of the day accordingly. Also, talking about them to the kids will keep them excited about what they are going to experience!
Do keep in mind to allow plenty of rest times in between the activities. Kids are very enthusiastic to experience new places but at the same time, require rest times equally soon. The rest times may include some free play in the park, stopping for a food break or even some technology time these days.
With kids around, fun and drama go hand in hand. You can expect the drama at all ages – a baby’s crying bouts, toddler’s tantrums or a teen’s puberty blues! And the only way to diminish the whole drama’s frequency is to travel slowly.
The biggest advantage to travelling slow is that it gives the whole family a chance to relax! Kids, and in all honesty, even grown-ups need some time off to cope up with busy travel schedules. Slow Travel is Hot & Happening!
Plan an additional few days at the same destination to cover the sight-seeing when you take it easy. Ideally just block half a day for sight-seeing and spend the rest of the day at home where children can swim and play. By the end of the trip, you will surely be rewarded with easy going kids, fun experiences and a relaxing vibe!
Sleeping Situation while on Road
Putting your kids to sleep at home can be a miraculous task even at home in pin-drop silence and is definitely going to be a nightmare with tired kids, unfamiliar rooms, and noisy streets. Some tricks might just help you, though!
Toddlers are usually very excited to experience new places. They will feel comfortable if they are told about the changes they’ll face while they are away from home or anticipated changes in sleep patterns. It’s advisable to carry that special little cot (available on Rent on ToyExpress.in) which your child is used to of sleeping in while at home. Allow them to watch their own TV while on the flight in between their naps. You could also carry their favorite toiletries from home. This will make the child comfortable in the new surrounding!
For infants, I am sure many of you will be using the bassinets. You could carry a travel bassinet (available on Rent on ToyExpress.in) to provide them with their own sleeping space at your new home for the next few days. However, make sure to use it back home for a few days before trying it out for the first time, so the child gets used to it. The key is to stay calm and be flexible while also keeping their routines as close to what it was as possible!
Vacations are totally necessary to give you a break from your monotonous routines. You can plan a vacation when your child is almost 6 months old. By this time, the child has gained some immunity and is easy to handle. However, at this age you wouldn’t allow the baby to have anything from outside. So, the best accommodation when travelling with an infant is to book an apartment (maybe with an Airbnb) which is equipped with a full-fledged kitchen so you can make some food for the baby. Apartments also give homely feel to the baby and space to move around and play while parents enjoy their privacy.
You know how kids are – they will be dying of thirst one moment; you will find them a drink; they will just have one sip and they are ready to go! If you keep buying drinks each time for that sip, your travel budget can totally be blown. Kids tend to get hungry and thirsty as soon as you leave home.
Here are a few tips to cope up with these challenges –
Always carry snacks/munchies and a small water bottle with you in your hand bag. This will save you from their hunger tantrums and meltdowns. Water is not allowed at the time of checking in the flight, so you can carry the empty bottle and get it filled once you have boarded.
Once you reach the destination, purchase your stock of snacks and water bottles from local super market to be kept in your room. Every morning refill the day bag with goodies and water so you are sorted for the day.
Having sick kids while travelling can be a nightmare! Some kids complain of motion sickness while travelling by car, train or plane. Some simple remedies are taking a nap in the car or train and sucking the milk bottle for infants or chewing a gum for others in the plane. However, in extreme cases, medication is a must. You should plan ahead in order to deal with sickness. Always, carry a small First Aid kit with you. Non liquid versions of medicines (for both adults and kids) make your life easier. Common medicines for fever, cold, flu, motion sickness etc. should always be there in the kit.
Be careful of what you are eating and drinking. A bad choice can trigger infections and thus, a sick baby. Eat what locals do – it is the best choice because locals know what is good better than us. Soda is also sometimes helpful to treat upset stomach.
Make sure the kids are getting enough rest. Over-tiredness can at times trigger an illness. The most important way to combat illness and staying healthy is not to push kids too hard. Slow down or stop completely when required.
How to Entertain the Toddler on Plane
It’s an art to keep the kids entertained! If you are planning a long travel, do load your phone or tablet with educational games and movies to keep the kids busy. Make sure the games do not require an active internet connection. After all, you don’t need a reason for a toddler to throw a tantrum! You will always require headphones that your kids will wear to avoid disturbance to fellow passengers.
There are worksheets and activity books also available for all age groups which could be of interest to your child. If your child has started writing, encourage them to write a travel journal. They can look up on internet or you can help them with ideas on how to write one! These journals are a treasure for a lifetime!
There are a lot of travel games available these days (you can also take them on Rent from ToyExpress.in). They do not take up too much of luggage space and can be fun to play for the whole family. For the toddlers, a set of cars or figurines can be invaluable to travel with. The fun they have exploring new places with their special toys are worth the effort carrying them all the way. For the older kids, a pack of cards, a tennis ball or an inflatable ball won’t take up too much space and will provide hours of fun!
Pay Extra for Good Baby Gear
Good Baby Gear doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive! Buying (or Renting from ToyExpress.in) quality gear means paying little bit more attention to detail – A stroller that folds up smaller, weighs half as much and will still carry your child all over the city is definitely worth it!
The same goes for the car seat – it can weigh 2 pounds instead of a bulky 5 pounds and still be equally comfortable and safe for the baby!
Choosing the right gear will save fights with your spouse about who carries the super heavy baby bag in and out of the car all day!
Ask for Child Discounts
Always ask for Child Discounts. It can save you a lot of money every time you travel. You can avail discounts on Public Transport, Tours, Entrance Fees, Restaurants etc.
Some companies have a fairly transparent child discount policy mentioned on the website too. However, there are many who will offer a discount only when asked. Some people may have tough time asking for discounts, but once you have done it couple of times, it will be much easier. After all, you can save 50% of the cost!
Give Kids your Contact Information
Despite your best efforts of taking care of your child, he may get lost. You will want them to have your contact information under such circumstance.
The contact information may include – Name, Contact number, Local Address and Email Id.
This information can be written on a note and put in child’s pocket, tied to a belt loop, as a necklace or in any other creative way that you can think of! But make sure the child knows where to find it. Older kids can memorize the contact information or save it on their mobile phones.
Give Kids a Camera
As soon as your kids are responsible enough, get them a handy camera that they can use on trips. It doesn’t have to be a fancy DSLR; a handy camera or even a mobile phone can serve the purpose. Having a camera and trying to get best pictures will help your child focus more on the things they are seeing around them. Once they are back, they can show these pictures to friends and family and relive moments vacationing.
Public Transport Amuses Kids
Public transport in new cities is always for everyone, especially for kids! There are various forms of public transports available depending on different countries/cities ranging from tuk-tuk, buses, trams, monorails, subway, trains, public bikes, taxis etc. Travelling by these amuses the kids as they have not been on these before. Each type of transport gives a whole new perspective of the city and a feel of being a part of the city as well!
Remember, travel is an adventure. Even if it has a few speed bumps, the experience you are giving to your kids is irreplaceable and something to cherish forever!