You might be a seasoned traveler, but a trip with little kids can be daunting and overwhelming. From packing your bags and planning your itinerary to getting there and coming home in one piece, traveling with children can be full of worries and anxieties.
While there is no guarantee that absolutely everything will go as smoothly as you’d like, you can make sure you not just survive but also enjoy your trip with your young kids. Whether they’re babies, in their terrible twos, or old enough to work an iPad, here are nine hacks that can make traveling with your kids easier:
Postponing is a no-no
You might decide to wait until your children grow a bit older because the idea of traveling with little kids is nerve-wracking. But putting the trip on hold is holding your kids from having amazing new experiences, seeing new places, and discovering new things. So rip the band-aid off early on and just do it! Family vacations can create their most wonderful childhood memories with you so travel with them as soon as you can and as often as you can.
Plan ahead of time
You might’ve been used to winging it when traveling on your own, but you definitely know by now that everything changes when you have kids. Keep the kids in mind as you plan ahead of time and make an itinerary. Give them a sense of familiarity by sticking to some routines you have at home. As a new mom you should prepare a to-do list to improve your time management.
Of course, having a rigid schedule can be stressful for you and your family so add a little flexibility by leaving enough room for adjustment. But while you don’t have to get everything down to a T, having a loose schedule can save you from having to rack your brains for the next activity.
Scoring the cheapest fare by booking days in advance goes without saying, and making sure you already have a place to stay right after a long journey is a no-brainer. But pre-booking doesn’t end with flights and lodging. Transportation, tours, and tickets for attractions—everything you can book ahead of time, book them! Take them off your worries as you keep the whole family happy and amused during the trip.
Put together a budget
Creating a budget and sticking to it saves you from overspending. It also won’t hurt to ask if tours, attractions, transportations, and even restaurants offer child and family discounts. Keep a lookout for promotional emails and newsletters for discounts, upgrades, and promos, too. During the trip, it will also be helpful if all your money is prepared and assigned to a particular need like food and souvenirs. Make things easier for you by keeping all your cash and cards in a wallet with ample space. With proper budgeting, you can give your family an amazing vacation without breaking the bank.
Pack as light as possible
You might be tempted to bring everything the kids use at home, but that’s a terrible idea. Don’t bring more bags than the hands you have because you’ll also probably end up having to carry a kid. Just pack the essentials in a mom bag spacious enough to fit everything but still stylish enough to carry around during tours. Keep toiletries, personal items, and snacks organized with a packing pouch set. Kids old enough are extra pairs of hands and can carry their own bags.
Pro tip: Use a mom backpack or fasten them on the stroller with a stroller strap so you can have both hands free.
Prep for extra time
Being in a rush + kids is the worst combination for a trip. Everything takes longer when you’re with kids so leave plenty of extra time for delays and mishaps. List everything that could go wrong, from spills to sudden diaper changes, and have a game plan like having a compact changing mat or packing in a diaper bag with machine washable bag linings. It’s already a given that there will be setbacks so leave early!
Pro tip: Set a false deadline to leave the house to condition everyone that you don’t have enough time to slack off.
Prime the kids
If some of your kids are old enough to understand, brief them on the trip to psych them up for this thrilling adventure. If they do not know what to expect, they might be confused and uncomfortable during the vacation. So prior to traveling, go over the details of the trip and get them excited!
Take it slow. You’re traveling with kids. Things will go wrong. It’s inevitable. Accept it. There’s no point in stressing too much about the trip. Remember: this is also your vacation as much as theirs so have fun, relax, and keep your composure no matter what gets thrown at you.
Practice makes perfect
Travel more and do everything all over again! You learn something new from every trip and you get to know the family dynamics more during a vacation. Use your experiences and take note of what and how you can improve so you can plan and strategize better next time. While you can never guarantee a perfect trip, traveling with kids becomes smoother and easier the more you do it.
While traveling with little children can be daunting and overwhelming, there’s no reason to postpone the first trip. With proper planning and a positive attitude, you can have a safe and wonderful vacation with your kids. Don’t worry, it gets easier as they grow older. One day, they’ll even want to travel on their own, and that will break your momma heart a little. So for now, enjoy every minute of the mayhem.