Going on holiday with little ones sounds awesome on paper but is, in reality, extremely stressful for parents! All the same parenting duties simply continue but in a different location and are amplified due to erratic schedules and endless excitement.
No matter what anyone tells you, travelling is not always easy with kids, and some trips you may find are more trouble than they’re worth.
The good news is that there are a few ways parents can limit the stress. Here are our top survival tips:
Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them
Our first tip, and perhaps the most important tip of all, is to keep in mind that long gone are the days when holidays were about you (sad but true). Once you realise this, you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more. Kids do not understand the concept of relaxation, nor do they care about white-sand beaches and exquisite food and wine.
Choose kiddie-friendly places
Forget fancy five-star resorts. Instead, choose kid-friendly hotels, attractions, and restaurants that have play areas and facilities for kids.
Lower your expectations (and then lower them even more)
Expect the worst, hope for the best. Many of us build up these grand illusions of our vacations, only to be disappointed when real life gets in the way. There will be delays, fights, and snags in your plans. Accept it and prepare, that’s all you can do. When you set your expectations low, everything else will seem like a bonus!
Plan travel times during sleep times
If you have a three-hour flight, try to plan it when your little ones usually nap. At first, the excitement will take over, but once they feel the vibration of the plane – it’s lights out. Once your kids are asleep, that’s when your vacation really starts! Go ahead and have that glass of wine or dive into your book because this peace will not last.
Ditch the sugar
Don’t give your kids any sweets, juice, chocolate, etc., during travel times. You might think this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised.
The more you pack, the better
This mostly pertains to toys and entertainment. Young kids have the attention span of a goldfish. Any shiny thing in their line of sight will send them running. Take a whole suitcase of toys, extra batteries, chargers, and colouring books, really anything that fits. Don’t be the idiot who forgets to charge the iPad before you get on a plane too – like me. Download a lot of kid-friendly apps that don’t require the Internet in case your flight or car doesn’t have Wi-Fi.
Make an itinerary ahead of time
Create a schedule of events and stick to it. Kids are creatures of habit; they like to follow schedules and directions. Fill their days up with activities so at night they welcome sleep. More sleep for them, more peace for you. Trust us on this – a bored kid equals a disaster.
Bring along some helping hands
If possible, bring guests on your trip. Parents, in-laws, friends, and nannies make for great babysitters when you need a break. As much money as you spend on these holidays, you deserve at least one kid-free dinner with your significant other.