How much fun is it to travel with kids, huh? When I just had my baby, the very thought of leaving the house was daunting because of all the things I imagined I would need. (picture me strapping my entire closet to the top of the plane/car!). The reality however, is not scary at all if you get your packing list done right. After bravely travelling with my daughter right from the time she was an infant, I’ve realized the value of packing correctly for children. I’m not just talking about clothes for the trip, but the gear you need to keep them happy and fascinated during the journey. As anyone who’s traveled with a toddler or a young child knows, you have to keep the kid happy or all hell will break loose and you’ll be “that family with the annoying child” on the plane. Luckily we’ve made our daughter into a travel aficionado and now I can safely say, the journey can be as much fun as the destination.
So, here are some ideas to make your vacation happy and easy going right from the journey itself!
This is the most important point for me, because that means I can blissfully enjoy the journey without having to entertain my 4 year old continuously. Instead, you can relax and read a book or listen to music in anticipation of the exciting holiday ahead. Pack a small light backpack for your child with a coloring book, washable crayons, a favorite storybook or a puzzle book and a small soft toy. Sticker books are also brilliant for kids who like to do crafts or activities. For older children, a portable video-game or a movie stored on your phone or iPad should do the trick too and keep them happily occupied for the journey.
2.A few small new toys
Once the novelty of the crayons and toys wears off, your child will be looking to explore their new surroundings, and may get a little fidgety. A few tiny surprise toys or books will make any child excited and thrilled with their new plaything. Wrap them up in shiny paper to add a little sparkle and excitement to the moment. Thus buying you some more time peacefully imagine your wonderful vacation ahead.
3.Snacks and bribes (sweets)
Its important for children to snack, and you need to make sure they don’t get dehydrated or hungry while travelling. Airplane food or food malls along the highway are not always suitable for all age groups so its safer to carry your own snacks and beverages with you in an accessible bag. Low sugar cereals, granola bars, cookies or fruit are great. Also pack some juice and water in non spill bottles or disposable tetra packs. I also carry a tiny bribe snack of my daughter’s favorite Skittles, in case of emergencies when I need to get her to behave. Lets face it, all kids are not angels and I need to bribe mine sometimes. Moms, you do what you gotta do okay! Those travelling with infants are the luckiest, because you don’t need any of this if your child is being breastfed. Just remember to carry a nursing cover to drape around yourself.
A little tip: Give your child a candy or something to eat during take off and landing to prevent their ears from getting blocked due to the pressure change.
4.Spare clothes, wipes
Accidents happen, juice spills sometimes and food somehow gets attracted to kids clothes. A plastic bib is very useful, but you can also be prepared and carry an extra set of clothes for your child, and yourself too! I can still remember the awful journey I had to endure with spit up on my jeans. Wipes are magic, carry them too. And for all the soiled gear, please pack an empty plastic bag.
5.Plastic bag, car sickness medicine and first aid
Give your child motion sickness medication if needed about 15 minutes before the journey. Most Homeopathic medical stores will give you a bottle of ‘cocculus’ pills over the counter. These work like a charm. Just in case, carry a few plastic bags too. A small first aid kit should also be kept handy, like a nasal spray, fever medicine and band aids.
6.Stroller, baby carrier
If you have luck like mine, your child will end up falling asleep just before you have to walk the seemingly never ending length of the airport terminal. If you have a lightweight stroller, carry it, and you wont have to carry a heavy sleeping child everywhere you go. These can be gate checked in the airplane so not to worry. If you are travelling to Europe, the U.S, or the Middle East there are places where you can rent baby gear too, so keep that in mind in case you forget to pack something you may need at the destination.
7.Small blanket or jacket
It tends to get cold on a journey and having your child’s favorite cuddle blankey will make them feel warm,cozy and comfortable. And a cute cozy sleeping child is what you want on a long road trip. So pack it!
8.Songs or verbal games you can play together
I remember car and train journeys as a child with all of my cousins playing ‘Antakshari’, or ‘Dumb Charades’ as we traveled on our summer holidays. Those were the best vacations! Everyone packed into a car or train compartment, singing along or playing some game. Those are memories you never forget and they make your trip so much better, so keep a few of these games in mind and you can turn any long journey into a moving party. For younger kids, you could engage them in games like counting the number of red cars that pass by, or I- spy with my little eye.
I hope this quick travel list helps you plan your next holiday with your kids. If you think of anything that I’ve missed, do let me know in the comments, I’m always on the look out for awesome travel hacks for my next trip.