Travel with kids
Are you thinking of traveling with children? Are you traveling around Europe but are curious about long, exotic journeys to another continent? Are you looking for information on planning or vaccinations? You do not know how to travel with children?
I invite you to read the following guide in which we share our travel experience on the basis of our travels in Mexico, Indonesia, California or South America.
Here’s what you can read about in the following article:
1. Pre-planning – How to prepare yourself and your children for the trip?
2. Real planning – Which things to take on a trip with children?
3. Packing – How to pack three children in two backpacks and not go crazy?
4. Flight – How to choose a “child-friendly” flight?
5. Stay – How to travel to make it pleasant for both children and parents?
6. Useful links – More information about traveling with children
Pre-planning – How to prepare yourself and your children for the trip?
1. Start from yourself: are you already convinced that you want to go on an exotic trip? If not, the most important part is to work on your conviction. Remember: there’s never better time than NOW, there are always excuses not to do stuff, and finally: usually in life you regret things that you did not do, not those you did.
2. Spread the word about your dream: inform others around you, start planning, looking for inspiration, committing to it. The more people knew about our plans the more I felt like I made a promise and now I have to do it. For me the key moment is to notify my mum and closest family and get acceptance – this helps!
3. Discuss it with your kids: now it’s the time to get them involved, even the youngest. Show your kids the world map and tell them about your dream. Buy a book on the country/continent you’re reaching for or watch a movie. A magic will happen: kids will remember it and spread the word. All universe will start syncing towards your dream
4. Soak into travels: surround yourself with travellers or people who understand your passion. Try meeting people from the country you’re gonna visit using Couchsurfing, BeWelcome or other hospex website. Before South America trip we deliberately chose CS surfers from South America countries or those who travel with children. Also, join Facebook groups, which support traveling families ( Families on the Move ). Follow blogs of traveling families, search for practical information and inspiration in internet or visit travel slideshows.
Real planning – Which things to take on a trip with children?
1. Clothes: – as a mother of three children, I dress the kids as quickly and conveniently as possible, especially when we travel. Therefore I limit number of clothing items as much as possible. Most probably your dream destination is somewhere warm. I usually pack a set of warm and a set of think clothes for each kid for a week. So basically I take: 7 T-shirts for each kid, 7 long-sleeve shirts, 7 shorts and 7 trousers, 7 pants and 7 pairs of socks (for one kid!). Then I add 3 sweaters, 3 warm trousers, a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers plus a windstopper. Additionally bathing suit and some extras (like a skirt for a girl). Be aware that some of these things will get lost or damaged so you will still need to do some shopping when travelling long-term.
If you think this might not be enought – do not worry, in most countries there are laundries and often it is quite a cheap service so you can quickly get clean clothes back. Believe me, it’s not a nice feeling to carry a huge jacket for a few months and use it only once. Better just put your kid into 2 shirts, a sweater and a windstopper and all will be fine!.
2. Baby equipment – you might need some equipment, especially when travelling with babies. I found it really important to carry around a thermo flask with hot water, a brush for bottles, bottles for babies, pampers, nail scissors and a strong, reliable trolley.
Before South America trip be bought We have a PHIL & TEDS Explorer – a double stroller with three-wheels, with inner tubes and we installed an extended handle on it. It also folds into a nice size which fits into most taxi drivers boots. It could carry three children and a bag at one time! This trolley is very important for us when we do not travel with a camper, with frequent transfers between buses, taxis and hostels. I can not imagine traveling with three small kids without this trolley!
I also recommend a baby backpack or a scarf, but be aware that this will put some weight on your shoulders.
3. IT equipment: It all will vary depending on how used to IT stuff you are and how much you need to work on the road. For us the following set worked good: one laptop, one tablet and two phones. We also had a good camera with a spare lens. While on the road, the laptop broke down and we used only a tablet. Then the tablet broke down we fixed the laptop only to experience that the camera lens is broken, too. All sort of crap will happen during your trip, so make sure not to be dependent on one thing.
4. Secure your photos and videos: it’s important to have a copy of your photos and movies either on an external hard drive you carry separately or on “cloud” servers, for example iCloud, GoogleDrive or Drop Box.
Packing – How to pack three children in two backpacks and not go crazy?
1. Organize things: buy mesh bags (available in Ikea and Decathlon) and arrange clothes within these bags. After arriving at a hotel you just unpack the bag and have no mess. They prove useful in a motorhome, too – the bags lie on top of each other in a storage space and thanks to that it fits more stuff
2. Prepare yourself for transitions: if you await a transfer by plane or by bus pack a handbag full of spare sets of cloths and food. I always take one or two sets of spare clothes, sometimes a sleeping bag and additional sweatshirts (especially for those long-distance buses with air-condition fully on), some food (rice waffles, bananas, apples) plus, if a baby on board, a baby bottle, a mixture of milk and porridge, bottle brush, thermos with hot water and cold water. It is also worth to pack some books, toys (blocks, puppets) ), crayons or card games (for example Double)
Flight – How to choose a “child-friendly” flight?
In my opinion the best flights for a family with kids are overnight flights. After all the excitement of getting on the place children can watch one movie and go to sleep, and so can parents do. Please, note: most planes have baby bassinets but you need to order a bassinet at the check-in. It’s a very comfortable little bed installed in the first raw on the place (so you will get those nice seats with plenty of foot space!). Unfortunately officially a child can not sleep in it during take-off and landing but sometimes cabin crew turns a blind eye to it.
Stay – How to travel to make it pleasant for both children and parents?
1. Flexibility: do not plan the exact route of your travel. Make sure to know where you start and where you finish, as well as what you want to see on the way. But do not plan day by day. Because you never know with kids and exhausted parents. After a few days you may want to rest, so why be stressed by your plan? It’s nice to have milestones of your trip, which will be the most important places but flexibility will allow you to take unexpected invitations on the road, such as to a Christmas party, visit a holiday cottage or get off the route and see something new.
2. Take is slowly: see one or maximum two attractions per day and take into consideration that your kids also need time to play freely around. If you have a baby you might need to plan a nap into your daily plan and avoid seeing places around 1pm. Instead this will be an ideal time to take a 2-3 hour bus ride. In a motorhome, our day looked like this: slow breakfast, playing around or sightseeing, longer transition (2-3 hours), lunch, break for children (playing around or sightseeing), dinner, looking for a place to park and sleep.
3. Let your kids move and interact: always look for attractions which include walking, running, touching, climbing like parks or outdoor attractions. Choose museums where kids can interact, play or touch.
4. Sneak in some knowledge into sightseeing – explain what you see to your kids, make a story out of the place, make questions and quizes. Buy a book about the place you see and read it to your kids – this is the best ever possibility to lear hands-on!
Useful links – More information about traveling with children:
Here’s a list of useful pages or blogs that will help or inspire you to take your family and set off:
- www.couchsurfing.com – a hospex site that allows travelers to be accepted at somebody’s home. The site is great to use and you can meet loads of interesting people there. When you register join Family Welcome Group, which is quite active and you can get there an invitation to another family. It is also worth placing a request in groups for a given country or even a city (for example a group of Peru or Lima). </ Li>
- www.hospitalityclub.org – much older organization with a similar mission as CS , unfortunately less effective. </ li>
- www.bewelcome.org – a site that aspires to give the original spirit of Couchsurfing – a non-profit organization created by volunteers. There are far fewer members, but the number is still growing. </ Li>
- www.airbnb.com – a page where you can book your accommodation in a private home or a guest house with someone. Prices here are usually a bit lower than in hotels, but there is full equipment and traces of apartment owners (their books, knick-knacks, etc.). I recommend for long-term stays, for example a month in Buenos Aires. </ Li>
- www.housetrip.com – a page similar to Airbnb </ li>
www.trustedhousesitters.com – if you want to travel looking after someone’s home, we recommend house sitting – you can look for a home, usually with animals, for care. Thanks to this, you have overnight accommodation. Such traveling – taking care of someone’s home – is hard to coordinate, but many people travel this way. Note that the membership is paid</ li>
Lists of other travel blogs that can inspire you: http://thefamilywithoutborders.com/en/best-logs-superior-with-city-2014-2015-01-19/
See a film from Cuzco in Peru, where we travel with half-year Kaya, 2.5-year Korada and 4.5-year-old Kacper:
See more in our presentation video here: