No matter how good their schools may be or how well you educate them at home, nothing can open your children’s eyes to the world quite like the experience of traveling. Of course, not every destination is child friendly, but there are a great many that are, whether you’re looking for a beachside getaway with great play facilities for toddlers or a vibrant city with amazing museums for you to explore together. Travel is a chance to discover other cultures, learn about history and put familiar experiences into a new, bigger context. But what do you need to know in order to travel successfully as a family?
The first thing that you should consider when preparing to travel is which vaccinations are necessary. Some of these may need to be received weeks in advance, and what’s needed may differ for children and adults. In a few cases, destinations that are safe for adults are not recommended for young children at all because of the health risks involved, so make sure that you get up-to-date medical advice. You should also prepare a first-aid kit to take with you when you travel.
Packing for a family is a lot more complicated than packing for yourself, especially if you have children who are too young to carry their own luggage. Extra changes of clothes will be needed because some are bound to get messy, and it’s a good idea to choose garments that you can wash in a sink with soap if necessary. If you have a baby, then you’ll need to think about food, diapers, a changing mat and possibly a travel seat or portable crib, depending on the arrangements that you’ve made. Skip Hop’s tote style baby change bags are useful for packing these things into while you travel, and you’ll then have a stylish-looking diaper tote to carry with you when you’re out and about. Remember that children of all ages will also need toys and other forms of entertainment to keep them occupied, especially during travel itself.
Traveling by car
Although a rental car often provides the easiest means of getting around on vacation, when you’re taking children, you’ll need to research and plan ahead. This is because the way children that travel in cars is regulated differently in different countries. In some, they’re restricted to the back seat. They may be required to use booster seats, and seats for babies and toddlers are required for different lengths of time. In other countries, regulation is lax, so you may not be able to rely on getting a car seat even if you ask for one. Using international rental companies is usually the best way to ensure that you get what you need. In case you’re camping and going in a camper you’ll need to make sure you take all the survival cooking implements with you, so you can prepare everything you need, you can even buy them online as getting the toaster you saw on a toaster oven reviews one day.
Traveling by bus or train
Bus and train regulations also vary by country, and in some places, you will need to take a travel seat that you can attach to the main seat for a baby or toddler. In other places, this isn’t a legal requirement but is a good idea on buses that have very poor suspension and can be particularly uncomfortable for young children. Buses and trains get very hot in some places, so make sure that you have plenty of water with you for children to drink.
Traveling by air
The sooner that children start traveling by air, the quicker that they’ll get the hang of it. Talk it through with them first to make sure that they understand the security issues in airports and the importance of sensible behavior. Arrange early boarding (which won’t cost you any extra) so that you can get seated while the plane is quiet, and don’t put children next to the aisle, where they may decide to wander if you doze off. If you have a baby, then you may be able to arrange for a small bed to be set up, or you can use a travel hammock. Make sure that you have a pacifier on hand because babies can’t adjust the pressure in their ears as easily as adults can, so take-off and landing can be painful for them.
Traveling by water
Traveling on boats and ships can be an exciting part of the vacation experience for children, but it raises two important issues. Firstly, you will need to have a serious talk about safety and make sure that they don’t go near the rails on their own until they’re old enough to be trusted. Secondly, this is the most common place for travel sickness to occur. If children like it, then crystallized ginger can help a lot with this, or you can get your doctor to prescribe something.
Traveling with children always throws up extra complications, but it can be a lot of fun. If you plan it well, then you and your kids will have a great time, and it will be a wonderful educational experience for them.