Before our last family vacation this year I considered myself a bit of a pro ‘with kids’ traveller …. Dishing out advice here there and everywhere… Well, did I get a shock to the system when we took off for our European Adventure a few months ago!
We traveled a lot with our first child and took both children to Fiji earlier in the year. When we got back from that Fiji trip I wrote a 'Top Tips for Travelling with Kids' blog, but I thought I'd add to this after taking two kids long haul, as it was a totally different ball game!!
Yes, the flight was hard and even with a huge amount of planning I knew this wouldn’t be easy, but I was excited about a new adventure and knew that it would all be worth it. We had a fairly good run on the way up, I may have slept standing up but both the kids slept pretty well and didn’t get too cranky. We made buddies with the crew and it paid off! A friend of mine had suggested taking a bag of lollies for the crew and we were really well looked after so I think it was a good tip!
The way home was so much worse! I’m not sure if it was because we were already exhausted but neither kid really slept and it was brutal. Somehow we thought it was a good idea to give-in to Liam’s Sprite request to keep him quiet, but Amelia would finally get to sleep then a sugar-induced Liam would wake her up! Halfway through the flight Amelia scratched my eyeball and I was in so much pain I couldn’t open it. #mumlife!
Now we have returned from the holiday…. here are some extra tips to survive and enjoy your family holiday traveling with under 5’s
- On long haul flights, anything goes- food, movies, sleeping wherever they can, but watch the sugar intake!
- Be realistic with your destinations – either opt for a beach style scenario or something with lots of kids activities near by
- Be prepared for what’s ahead….
- If you know where you’re going, plan all your day trips and pickups. The days we had properly planned, although long and tiring, were the most memorable and interesting
- Plan for some downtime days. A slow morning, a bit of TV time, time at a local park/zoo/aquarium
- Routines are really important
- It’s not as easy to recover from late nights on holidays with constant excitement
- Keep them well fed and make meal times as calm and relaxed as possible
- Plan for downtime – you will both need it
- Sightseeing is a thing of the past! Not really, but make sure to plan some tours that you know will work with your family.
- Get a room with a view as that’s going to be your dinner spot for the holiday!
- The idea of children sleeping in prams while you have a romantic dinner for two is farfetched. With a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, we found they just needed attention or a screen! Best to go out after they have gone to sleep, or not at all.
- Babysitters can be a great option if they are available but it can be hard when the kids are in an unknown environment with someone they don’t know, and expensive!
- Kids Club is not what it’s cracked up to be. It can be great for some kids, but then others don’t want to go!
- Travel with family, it’s great bonding for the kiddies but it’s also a nice way to get some time out for yourselves
- Although a child can walk, it doesn’t mean they want to! Think about stroller options. We used two different strollers for the kids
- Don’t give in on too many treats, not only will they be harder to break when you get home, it just makes them worse while you are on the trip
- Try and separate yourself from the toddler for sleeping. We had a closet with Liam once and it worked a treat!
- Only take clothes that can be machine washed and go in the dryer
- Take nappies from home for night time, you don’t really want to roll the dice and get a brand that doesn’t fit your child
All in all, traveling with kids can be really tough but I know we’ll continue to do it. When I look back at the photos I realise the small amount of pain is worth all the memories and good times!
For the next few years, we have decided to focus on beach style holidays, where the kids can swim and play in the sand.