So you’ve decided to take the leap and bring the family on the road, or even across the globe — congratulations! This might just be the best decision you’ve ever made. There’s nothing quite like seeing the world through your childrens’ eyes.
Not so fast though. Now that it’s no longer just the two of you, there are new details to think through very carefully. And with the added company, it’s best to cross your T’s and dot your I’s BEFORE you pack your bags. Here are 5 things every parent should consider when traveling with their kids that can make or break the experience.
Whenever possible, try to fly direct to your destination and when a stop is necessary, absolutely avoid long layovers. (Our rule of thumb is no more than 2 hours in between flights.) Call to make sure your seats are next to each other — you would think that airlines do this automatically when they see a ticket for a child, but they don’t always. Bring snacks, bring something to do (an iPad loaded with movies and games works for us) and carry a change of clothes on board, just in case.
We don’t mess around with complicated transfers anymore especially with all the additional baggage. It doesn’t make sense to take a bus to a train to another bus that lets you off 5 miles away, etc. just to save a few bucks. At what expense? Consider the cost difference and try renting a car or taking a taxi from time to time to make getting around easier.
The Bedding Situation
Does your baby need a crib to sleep in once you arrive at your destination? Ask for one when you make your hotel reservation. If none are available, you can bring your own — BabyBjorn makes a great travel crib that folds up nice and neat into a carry-on suitcase. If your toddler has graduated to a bigger bed at home, they may not want to get in the hotel-provided pack n play. Request a second bed in your room, or a pull out sofabed. Finally, if you’re sharing your bedding, make sure it’s a queen or king (and not a double.)
The Car Seat
If you’re renting a car and are not planning to bring your own car seat, request one at the time of booking. Nail this down before you leave town — it could turn into a big problem if none are available once you get there. Get GPS while you’re at it. It’s tough to navigate while you’re preoccupied with the kids.
Last but not least, the itinerary. Do add in some extra time to slow down and don’t forget that activities need to be balanced. There’s no sense in stressing over schedules and routines since these are likely out the window for the duration of your trip anyway. Instead of ruling out great restaurants, try to go during kid friendly hours (either super early or super late, with baby asleep in the stroller wheeled up to your table.) Instead of skipping physical activities, bring the kids along (i.e. hike with an Ergo, rent a bicycle with a babyseat in the back.) Most importantly don’t forget to laugh together, play together and enjoy your time together as a family.