There’s a huge difference between traveling solo or as a couple versus traveling with children. Back when you don’t have kids yet, traveling is as easy and straightforward as it gets. You pack your things, head out the door, go to your destination, and that’s it. When you get to your destination, you can either follow your itinerary or do whatever you feel like doing.
But with children around, you can’t afford to be the same happy-go-lucky soul that you used to be. There’s a lot of things that you need to prepare, and most importantly, you have to make sure that your children are safe from harm. This is the reason why family getaways are something that need to be planned.
And while it’s true that traveling with children comes with challenges, it can’t be denied that the benefits of doing so far outweigh the negatives. That said, here are five difficulties of traveling with children and tips on how to overcome them.
Keeping the children comfortable
Traveling by car with your children can be tricky especially during summer. Babies up to toddlers don’t have the ability to express themselves very well when they’re feeling discomfort. Before you know it, your little ones are all crying and throwing fits in the backseat.
There are a lot of things that can cause discomfort to a child. It could be that he’s hungry, tired, sleepy (but can’t sleep), sick, feeling hot or cold, etc. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that they are as comfortable as they need to be by addressing the cause of their discomfort.
What to do
On a hot summer day, one of the most prevalent causes of discomfort in children is extreme heat. What you need to understand is that overheating in children is real and is a serious issue that can even lead to death.
The good news is there are many things that you can to protect your children from the heat and keep them comfy. One is by the use of baby car seat fans. These are affordable accessories that can be attached to car seats. It’s a simple and effective solution that works 100% of the time.
Other than that, make sure that you feed them well before the trip and also provide snacks for the duration of the trip. Pack liquids as well so they stay hydrated. If they’re not feeling well, it’s best to consult a doctor before you decide to proceed.
Traveling with children is a lot more expensive for sure. A household with two children is not considered big, but if you are to travel by plane, that means you’ll need to buy four tickets for the whole family. Additionally, if you insist on staying in a hotel, keep in mind that most of them don’t have family rooms. It’s either you get a suite or two separate rooms, both of which are more expensive.
Naturally, your food expenses will be higher as well. If your family is on holiday, you will also have to pay for your kids’ entertainment, babysitting services (if you need a helping hand), kids clubs, etc. Older kids, on the other hand, will most likely be begging you to get souvenirs adding more to your expenses.
What you can do
If flying is the only way that you can get to your destination, there’s not much that you can do to save on plane tickets. But if there are other means of transportation available, consider them. For instance, the whole family can go on a train instead of flying. Sure, it can take longer, but you will save money in the process.
Instead of staying in a hotel, rent a house or a condo instead. The internet is your best friend, and there are a lot of websites that can help you find a place to stay for a few days. If you go this route, however, see to it that the place is safe by checking reviews or calling the police station nearest to the area.
Food in the hotel costs a lot too. So if you decide to stay in an apartment instead, you might as well cook your food whenever possible. Stay away from fancy restaurants no matter how tempting they are.
When boredom strikes
The most dreaded question that parents can hear from their children when traveling is, “Are we there yet?”. This happens because they’re already bored. Unfortunately for you, next to a child that’s bored is a child that will throw tantrums.
So aside from keeping them comfortable during your travel, it’s also vital that you prevent them from getting bored. According to a psychologist, most kids younger than twelve can only wait for 49 minutes and 47 seconds before asking the dreaded question. This means that you only have this much time to do everything you for it not to happen.
What to do
Games and travel toys for kids are very effective in staving off boredom in children. So when you pack your things, make sure that you also bring some of their toys along. Of course, you don’t want to be carrying a lot with you so just pick their favorite ones.
If they’re already old enough and are into reading, books are an excellent way to pass the time while traveling. You should also consider forgetting your no-gadgets rule just for now. Besides, doing so won’t make you a bad parent, and you’ll also get to your destination peacefully.
Just as much as adults experience jet lag, so do children. It’s potentially even worse in newborns up to two months because they haven’t established their body clocks yet. And if you think toddlers and older children are more capable of dealing with jet lag, you are wrong.
In fact, it’s just as hard for toddlers experiencing jet lag because they can’t adjust well when going to a place with a different time zone. However, you’ll be glad to know that complications due to jet lag in children are so rare. Still, you don’t want to be dealing with a cranky child when you’re supposed to be enjoying your destination.
What to do
Remedying jet lag in toddlers is not as complicated as others may think. Preparing your kids a week or two before your flight can help prevent jet lags. Depending if you’re traveling east or westbound, you should adjust their schedules little by little, a week or two before the flight. This is so they’re minds and bodies won’t have a hard time adjusting to the new time zone.
Of course, keeping them well-fed and hydrated is also on the list. If you have a long road trip after you get off the plane, you might want to consider postponing it if you see symptoms of jet lags in your children.
If you have a multi-child household, you’re probably aware by now that fights between siblings happen. From toys to deciding who gets to sit near mommy or daddy — the list of reasons why siblings fight is endless.
Dealing with all the bickering and teasing is already exhausting for parents to deal with at home. Being away traveling makes it all the more challenging. Needless to say, fights between siblings should never be included in your itinerary.
What to do
Sibling rivalry is inevitable unless there’s only one child in the family. However, the key to preventing siblings rivalry starts at home and it should be done even before your second child arrives. The most important thing that you should do is NOT to let any of your children feel unimportant.
Promote empathy and instill in their minds the idea of team spirit as early as possible. Ideally, you want to let your children settle their differences between themselves. But if it gets out of hand to the point where they show unacceptable behaviors like hitting one another, it’s high time to intervene.
Don’t be afraid to give them punishments if needed. See to it that they understand what their limits are.
Traveling with your children is a perfect opportunity to enjoy quality time together. And the challenges mentioned here shouldn't get in the way of that. Besides, traveling is something that doesn’t happen very often that’s why it’s very important to make the most out of it.