I’ve been traveling with kids for almost six years already, so I definitely have my two cents on the topic. When speaking of travelling in this specific article I’ll be referring to short trips, mainly one-day trips or weekend gateways.
I truly believe travel is an enlightening experience for kids, but along the way, it’s a challenging one for parents as well. Kids are quite a demanding young companion. As much as showing your little one a part of the world sounds amazing, it requires a special skill set, including patience. Kids, just like adults also do have their own opinion, change of mood, and different taste. But when approached properly, the trip may be a success. Follow my tips.
And I mean it. Be prepared the trip may be cancelled, postponed, you’ll end up in a completely different place or you’ll spend the whole trip wiping tears. Think of the impossible and be prepared for every eventuality. Cranky kid, broken leg, peed comrade, whatever comes to your mind. Of course, those are the worst cases scenarios. It may be a fairy tale and your kid will hike 15 kilometres as you wanted, but really, be prepared for literally everything.
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT KID CAPABILITIES
Don’t overdo it with planning long walking distances. Less is more. Check the terrain and altitude before the trip. 10-kilometre path looks a lot easier on the website than it does when you have to carry your 15 kilos offspring halfway. You’re the one to know your kid best. Find the balance between what you expect from the trip and what you can achieve with your kid. Consider longer breaks if you plan a whole day hike. But mostly, remember it should be fun, not a challenge.
Don’t plan every minute of the trip. I did that mistake back on the trip to Prague, by planning and making a reservation to different spots at a certain hour. After all, I ended up cancelling events and calling off reservation in the restaurants. Travelling with kids is not about imposing a list of must-see places. It’s about spending time together as a family and having fun exploring new places. It’s good to have the itinerary prepared, but only as an inspiration. Know what’s fun to do and see in a particular place, but don’t rush from one place to another. Get acquainted with the neighbourhood you’re visiting and propose an alternative. Kids love places like ZOO, aquariums and interactive museums, so get ready to spend there even a whole day. Chill out.
DON’T PLAN WAY AHEAD
I know planning a trip helps us adults survive from boredom and daily routine. Happiness already kicks in on the sketching phase. And counting days till the dream trip come through helps throughout the workweek. But what happens two days prior to the trip? Fever, cough, unexpected school project, you name it. It’s better to be surprised than disappointed. I always have few places in mind, few possibilities to choose from depending on the weather. And this is how we live, from weekend to weekend.
There’s always a brain behind every operation and it’s no different this time. You, as a parent are fully capable of organizing the whole trip. From choosing a place worth seeing for both you and your children, through checking the neighborhood and inventing a plan B if needed, to packing kids’ stuff and snacks for the whole family.
TAKE A BACKPACK FULL OF FOOD
It’s not an exaggeration. I don’t know your kids, but mine get a huge appetite the minute they’re in the car. Once I know we’ll be out in the wilderness without any access to shops or restaurants, I’ll pack sliced fruits and sandwiches for a snack. Some sweets and nuts are always welcomed by my family members as well. I’ll even carry a hot soup or pancakes for a dinner in a thermos. When we go for a city break, I’ll pack only something for the way, again some fruits. But as I know there’s a chance to grab dinner at a restaurant, I won’t carry dinner with me.
TAKE CLOTHES FOR A CHANGE
This is a bit connected with the first point: be prepared. Spring, summer, autumn, winter –kids get dirty, wet, hot or cold. As a mother/father you have to be prepared for everything. Running in a dirty t-shirt in the summer is not as bad as wet trousers in the autumn. During summer, I always have one extra pair of shorts and t-shirts. I am taking long sleeve shirt as well in case we get home later than expected. The same rule goes for spring/autumn, but I do also take extra pair of socks, a raincoat, and a sweater. I do have an extra pair of shoes, but only if we’re going by car. Winter may not seem, but is the easiest. I take only an extra pair of gloves and trousers. I do also take tights and extra pair of shoes to the car.
It’s very important to keep calm and be patient, even when your children are trying very hard to keep you off balance. You’re on the trip to enjoy it with your family, to show your kids how wonderful the world is, to teach your kids to appreciate nature, and let them know they’re not the only one on the globe.