Travelling with Younger Kids – there is no doubt it can be a challenge! You have to take twice as much stuff as you normally might need. Everything has to be planned with military precision especially if you happen to be flying anywhere.
We have always travelled with our kids, who are now 19 and 18, both by car and plane. We took Miss Oz to Canberra for the weekend when she was about 3 months old and flew to the Gold Coast with her when she was 10 months old.
Master Oz was only 6 weeks old when we found ourselves setting off for a specialist’s appointment a few hours drive from where we lived. That wasn’t a great trip as Miss Oz projectile vomited in the car. I never knew so much could come out of a small body and get into every conceivable nook and cranny. Many cloth nappies and baby wipes later and a change of clothes and we were off again with her sleeping peacefully for the rest of the trip.
We went to the Gold Coast again when Master Oz was about 10 months old. We didn’t get an awful lot of sleep on that trip as he decided to get a whole lot of new teeth while we were away (about 8 in 2 weeks from memory)
But we didn’t let any of the negative experiences we had deter us from travelling with our kids. As a consequence we have had some amazing trips as a family. We think all things considered our little kids were fantastic travellers. They slept easily, didn’t get car sick and could amuse themselves with books and games along the way.
So with that in mind, here are my Top 9 Tips for Travelling with Younger Kids.
SOMETHING TO DO
There is nothing worse than going on a long trip and the kids asking every 5 minutes ‘Are we there yet?’ With the advent of in-car DVD players and iPads it has made travelling with kids a whole lot easier. But you may not want them using electronic stuff all the time.
I always packed a ‘travel box’ which was a small plastic tub that sat on the floor under their feet. It always had some colouring in books and pencils, a reading book, playing cards, toy cars (for him) and a barbie doll (for her).
We also found packing a plastic tray each was a great way for them to be able to colour in etc. As they got a little older we found word search books were awesome. We also used to pack their scooters instead of bikes as most scooters fold in half so they are much easier to fit into the car and still lots of fun.
A LITTLE BIT OF HOME
Make sure you pack things like their favourite pillow or blanket or soft toy if they have one. This can be comforting to a child who is in un-familiar surroundings. A small blanket can also be very handy. The air conditioning in cars and planes can be a bit cool for littlies.
Good quality, comfortable car seats, capsules or booster seats that comply with Australian Standards are a must. Children must remain in an approved safety restraint until the age of 7. There are National Guidelines regarding the safe restraint of children travelling in motor vehicles. You can download the Kidsafe Child Restraint Guidelines HERE.
Little bodies will get sick of sitting in the car very quickly. Try to break up any long road trips with plenty of rest breaks. Look for a park with some shade and a playground that they can run around in to burn off some energy. On our frequent trips between the Gold Coast and Cowra ours always wanted to stop at the ‘rocket ship’ park which is a super cool playground located in Moree in north western NSW.
FOOD ON THE GO
Kids always want to eat when travelling. But you may not want them to fill up on to much junk food that might upset travelling tummies. Some ideas that I used to use were small tubs of cut up fruit, cheese and biscuits, like plain rice crackers or small packets of plain chips. Limit juice and cordial as these can make your little one feel thirstier but allow them plenty of cool fresh water.
TRAVELLING WITH A BABY
Travelling with a baby under the age of one can be a challenge. If you are breast-feeding you will need to allow for extra stops along the way. If you are flying and breast feeding be prepared to feed bub as you are coming in to land. The sucking action helps with ear pain often experienced during descent.
The same applies if bub is bottle fed. If bub is bottle fed have several bottles ready with cool boiled water. A divided container that you can store your formula in is handy for travel. That way it is easy to mix up a bottle when needed. Most places these days won’t heat up a bottle for you but will provide you with hot water so as you can do it yourself. Don’t forget if you are breast feeding to look after yourself and keep well hydrated too.
PACK AN EMERGENCY BAG
I learnt after our incident with Miss Oz’s projectile vomit in the car to pack some extra water and a couple of old towels when travelling. On the day she did this it would have been so handy to have some extra help in the clean up.
You could also add some extra wipes, an extra set of clothes,some plastic bags and some hand sanitiser into this. You might also like to add some car sickness tablets if you need them and some children’s Panadol. Kids can come down with a fever out of no where and there is nothing worse than having a sick child and no chemist in sight.
WHERE TO STAY
There are so many different places that you can stay these days. No matter what your preference is you will find something that caters to your family. When our kids were little we often stayed in apartment style accommodation. This meant we had kitchen and laundry facilities on hand. Many of these apartments also have great pool areas and even kids playgrounds.
For the campers and caravanners among us many of the larger caravan parks cater to families with resort style pool areas and playgrounds. Some even offer ‘kids clubs’ over the school holidays so you can drop the kids off and have some time out with your significant other. Big 4’s are great for these facilities.
TAKE A BREAK
Travelling and holidays can sometimes be very hectic. We all want to fit as much as we can into our sometimes limited holiday and travel time. If you are on the road everyday or spending lots of time at theme parks, museums, zoos or other activities everyone can get a little tired. So every couple of days I recommend having a ‘rest day’. You might choose to spend a couple of hours by the pool in the morning and then head to a movie or similar low key activity for the afternoon.
Writing this post has reminded me of how many great trips and holidays we have had with our kids. We are so grateful that we have been able to show them a little bit of this awesome country of ours.