You may personally like to do your packing last minute but when it comes to packing for the kids, doing it as early as possible is the best way to tackle it. Make a list of all the things you may need, taking into account the worst case scenario, and get started. And whatever you do, don’t forget their favourite toy! While you don’t want to overload your luggage, packing the necessary items that will save many a headache when travelling, is well worth the extra load.
Stick to your routine
Now is not the time to change your routine unless you feel your kids will be okay with doing so. If they have a snack at 2pm, then changing that routine may cause a minor or major meltdown depending on the day. If your kids need to nap, then find a quiet place and let them nap; if mealtime is at 5pm on the dot, then do your best to accommodate it. Travelling can be stressful, however if a child is allowed to continue on with their routine from home, then a foreign location may not seem so foreign to them after all.
Bring extra snacks
Pack their favourite snacks and drinks and then double it. You need to ensure you have plenty of snacks on hand to help your kids through those long queues or waits for public transport. Be prepared for those locations that might not carry their favourite snack or cookie and have a stockpile on hand. You just never know when they will come in handy.
Kids will, more often than not, stop to smell the flowers; bearing this in mind, allow extra time to get from A to B without having to rush them through what may be an interesting place to explore. It is better to be there early with snacks on hand to ease the waiting time rather than having to pull them through a busy pedestrian area to ensure you get there on time.
It is definitely worthwhile packing a selection of medication prior to departure – just in case. Think of it as your first aid kit for when times get tough. Kids, just like adults are prone to headaches, travel sickness, ear aches, etc and lack of sleep or dehydration can easily cause your kids to be feeling out of sorts or grumpy. Have the Gravol or Tylenol in your bag rather than trying to source them when you are out sightseeing in a foreign location.
Plan child friendly activities
You may be up for a 3 day trek to Machu Picchu, but are your kids? Travelling as adults and travelling with kids is extremely different and you need to look at it from their perspective. If they are going to complain that they are tired walking to the store then trying a long hike, without some fun incentive at the end may just be too much to work in. Think about their needs, their skill level and rethink your plans. There will be a compromise in there somewhere.
Avoid planning too much or too little
The tour guides often try and cram so much into one day that it doesn’t leave much time for rest or food breaks. Have a look at what the tour companies are offering and try to plan your own itinerary. Perhaps one or two things at the most may be best suited to your family. On the flip side of the coin, not planning something for a few days may lead to boredom and unrest. We all like to be entertained and being in a new location is a great time to get out there and explore.
Take their interests into account
You may be super excited about your visit to the museum or that family cooking class you have enrolled in, but you need to ensure that you have taken your children’s interests into account when it comes to planning. Ask them what they may like to do and then Google the destination to see what may be in that area that he/she may like to participate in. If they have a passion for dinosaurs, trains or chocolate then make sure that you have included something in the itinerary that they can look forward to as well.
It’s not rocket science but we know from experience that when you are in the midst of packing or planning, even the simple things can get overlooked. Follow these tips and you are guaranteed to make your trip a fun time for the whole family.