It goes without saying that travelling with kids is a very different experience to travelling without them – whether that’s with a partner, a friend or a group of friends. Before the kids were born, I became a Mum and parenting seemed to dominate everything, I remember being able to make spontaneous decisions about booking a late holiday or getting up on a Friday morning and deciding to head off somewhere for a long weekend. All I needed then was a sense of adventure, a bag full of my stuff, and I was all set…
Not any more! Don’t get me wrong – travelling with my kids is brilliant fun; it just requires a bit more (lot more) planning. Here are five lessons I’ve learned when travelling with kids. I hope you find my tips useful.
Drop of the hat weekends away to Devon or the Lake District are out – at least until the kids are teens. Now a long weekend has to be planned and explained. I find that kids might like surprises like an afternoon to the park or an impromptu run to the ice cream van but don’t like being thrown by a last-minute camping trip. It only unsettles them so make sure, if you’re going away, every last detail has been explained to them so they can get their heads around it all.
Well, not literally everything you own. But not far off – travelling light with children is easier said than done. Wherever you’re going to, they’re guaranteed to be too hot or too cold so pack two of everything, just in case. Plus, stuff to read, to play and to watch. And to eat. And to drink… even a two-hour car journey will feel like 12 if the kids aren’t constantly fed, watered and entertained. How about a night light?
Research your resort
If you’re heading away overseas for a holiday, do your research carefully. Where once a quiet resort with a couple of bars and restaurants will have done the trick, now you have a load more boxes to tick. Is there plenty to do there? Is there a beach within walking distance? Will there be other families around, to mix with? Does the hotel have a kids’ club? Is there a swimming pool suitable to little ones? And so on, and so on. You might be happy with a paperback, cocktail and a sun lounger for a fortnight – but your kids won’t! Or are you heading somewhere with mounatin walks, do you need hiking supplies?
Access your money easily
Stories about running out of money when backpacking and needing to sleep rough under the stars while on the beach for a few nights before finding a spot of casual work makes for great nostalgia but it’s no fun with a couple of tired and hungry kids (I expect). Thankfully, these days transferring money into foreign currency before travel and using your debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs is easier than ever. As is sending and receiving money overseas if you really get stuck and need help from a friend or relative.
Make the most of it
I’ve found the best holidays and weekends away have been when we’ve all just relaxed and smiled through whatever has been thrown at us. That might have been a camping trip when it seemed to rain non-stop (we turned the tent into a snuggly den and turned the whole into an adventure) or the time we got lost en route to a cottage in the country we’d booked. Instead of flapping we stopped for lunch in the nearest town, ate and played in a park across the road and regrouped. By the time got back in the car we’d chilled out, cleared heads and were ready to go again. Have fun and your kids will be happy!
This guests post was written by Bethany Taylor.