I recall the first time I travelled with my daughter. She was just two months old. With an infant flying from Baghdogra to Visakhapatnam, changing two flights was very stressful. When I look back now after all these years, I can safely say that perhaps that bit of travel was the easiest I took with her!
Travel was always a big part of our lives and my husband and I never compromised on our travel plans with the arrival of the baby. We just knew we had to handle her in a way that she too starts enjoying it. From a toddler to a teen, our journey as travel parents is full of stories and funny anecdotes that make for lovely memories. I remember each time how my toddler would poop just when the call for boarding would be announced. The first few times were hard, but soon we had our act together and could change soiled diapers to fresh ones in a jiffy before the last call of the flight.
I also remember this one time, the in-flight entertainment was not working and my three year old threw a fit. No amount of cajoling or scolding helped. It only disturbed the other passengers. Till it struck me to seek the flight attendant’s help. She decided to take her for a walk in the aisle and later made her sit in business class with better headphones and a larger TV screen!
And then there was this another time, when I was flying alone with her and for some strange reason, I got the middle seat sandwiched between a lady and a clearly irritated man who hated the idea of sitting next to a baby. As if my girl knew what he was thinking, she decided to burp and puke a wee bit on his crisp ironed shirt. Embarrassed and hassled, I could hardly do anything about it!
Travelling with kids is never easy and all experienced travel parents some time or the other say, “wish I had taken that / done that”. Whilst travelling with kids is about making memories, it can be daunting if you are not prepared. Every time I exchange notes with parents who travel with kids, I figure that some things are apt to engage the kids with. Here’s a list that you can that you can use before embarking on a journey with your little one.
1. Don’t stress
Stress is an absolute no – no. No matter how old the child is, don’t make the idea of travelling stressful. The anxiety is purely for the journey and not the holiday. They are two different things. Our kids are smart. Soon as they sense that the parents are stressed, they have a way to make it even more stressful! So stay calm and enjoy the ride!
2. Pack the medicines
Medicines are imperative. A good idea would be have a small kit in your handbag for all the bugs that you may want to address. Keep hand sanitizer and wipes handy. Make sure they are under the permissible quantities of the airline. While travelling to a foreign destination, some medicines need prescriptions. So it is a good idea to carry them as well.
3. Let them explore the camera
Let camera become their company. Today’s kids are extremely sharp in using technology. Give them the liberty of clicking pictures, appreciate their efforts and involve them in the journey. Your phone becomes an absolute entertainer and you have to take advantage of the same. To be honest, the smart phone came to my life just so I could entertain her better when we were off on trips!
4. Be prepared for the weather
The weather can play foul if you are not prepared. Do your research thoroughly about clothing. Apart from the internet, speak to friends who have been through the same travel experience to gather some useful tips. Keep in mind that an extra pair of clothes is always useful. I used to carry an entire mid size suitcase only for her and a smaller suitcase squeezed with my husband and my clothes. We probably overdid it, you can use your discretion!
5. Toddlers and toilets
Dont fret about your toddlers toilet training when travelling. To be safe and convenient, try to either keep them in diapers or if you really want, talk them into telling them much in advance. Wet pipes, extra diapers and “not” reminding them of the loo really helps.
6. Make use of kid friendly apps.
There are umpteen apps to keep your child engaged when they get bored. Peppa Pig, ABC Phonics, Berry Bitty Adventure, POCOYO, Sofia the first are some great games for toddlers to age 4. Older kids enjoy Pokemongo, Dragonvale,, Angry Birds, Subway Surfers, Shadow Fight and Flip Diving. Now I do agree that a holiday should be devoid of gadgets, but what is the harm in taking advantage during the journey. One can always hide it later!
7. Use public transport
See if you can use public transport. A hired cab is no fun compared to the trains and buses. Kids love novelty and this is the best way to provide them with some. Though, use caution and do your research for whichever city you are visiting. While travelling, it is also a good idea to keep a tag on their clothes with their names and your phone number written. I had made my daughter learn my mobile number by heart and someone joked that kids usually start with 1,2,3 and we are making her learn 9846….!
8. Travel Journal
Let your child maintain a travel journal. Encourage them to collect souvenirs like ticket stubs, postcards, maps. There are many travel journal templates available on the internet. Take a printout and let your child enjoy creating it. The first time I did it was when my daughter was seven and I wondered why I had not done it before. She seemed to enjoy the coloring, the doodling and it kept her busy for hours!
9. Pack together.
Though older kids are encouraged to pack their stuff, always go through what they have packed. Teach them how to pack too, making it fun and teaching them a new skill. Plan the packing well in advance. It can be a “fun to do, lets look forward to our holiday” activity.
10. Pack their favourite toy
Kids miss home when they are away. Don’t forget to take their favourite toy or cushion with you. My daughter always insisted on carrying her quilt with her. Though a few times we discouraged it, we realised that every time we did, she was peaceful and less irritable.
Besides, other things, ensure you have a few family games ready like I -spy, antakshari or 20 Questions. You cannot really predict the mood of a toddler. So in case yours is happy one minute and cranky the next, you know you need to handle in the right way! Stations, buses and airports are now kid friendly. Make use of the amenities. Armed with these tips, you are bound to have a lovely holiday and encourage the little traveller to explore more.
*Pictures courtesy – pinterest, clipart,dnaindia, travel-tips nosh