The thought of travelling with kids, especially overseas, leaves most moms feeling anxious. What to pack, where to go, how to get there – it isn’t nearly as uncomplicated as when you go it alone. But with just a bit of planning and preparation you can have an easy, breezy holiday without the travelling getting you down.
The InterContinental Hotel Group has just launched its Insider Guide to Travelling with Children. It’s one in a series of guides available on its website and gives parents the best tips to enjoy family vacations. Here are some of its tips for packing.
Keep it light
Overpacking is the most common mistake. To make sure you don’t forget any essentials, it’s best to write individual lists for each family member. This way you can spread out the communal essentials and ensure no one forgets their sun cream or swimsuits. Having your young ones help with the packing and contribute to the process not only creates excitement about the trip, but also helps them develop organisational skills in the process.
Fun for the kids
Award-winning Dubai-based children’s author Taghred Chandab suggests packing a child-friendly guidebook or creating a picture-based tick sheet for children aged between five and seven as this “helps them to tick off the sights they see and the places they visit, helping them to remember and making it a more enriching experience”.
For older children, Chandab recommends packing a scrapbook or a travel journal. Some children are natural collectors and you may be pleasantly surprised at what is precious to them, such as ticket stubs or foreign coins.
To get your children more involved on the holiday, you can also pack a durable camera they can use on the trip. It can be a fun project and get them excited about all the new things they’re going to see. It’s also a great way to recycle old cameras. A child’s-eye view of the trip can be quite an eye-opener.
Packing for entertainment
To keep the children occupied there’s a temptation to bring hordes of toys and games, but rather ask the hotel at your destination what it has on offer to keep your kids entertained.
Packing for the climate
Packing for different climates is important, so anticipate what you might need for your children beforehand. Bulky coats and cold weather wear take up a huge amount of space, whereas packing lighter items you can layer may be more effective for keeping warm, not to mention easier to pack.
Taking a trip to a country with tropical weather means you get to pack less, but don’t forget children’s eyes and skin are more sensitive than adults’ so be sure to pack sunglasses, sunscreen and hats. Sweat irritates sensitive skin so choose clothes made from natural fibres, which are slightly looser.
Packing with allowances
Children who have their own seat booked on the plane, regardless of age, have the same allowances as adults, which with most major airlines is around 23 kg for checked luggage and 7 kg for hand luggage. Infants who don’t have their own seat do generally get a luggage allowance, so bear this in mind for all the baby essentials you think might take you over the limit.
Read up on the quarantine standards of your destination before travelling. For example, Australia has the strictest quarantine laws in the world because of its unique environment. Unprocessed and fresh food, animals and animal products and plant materials are prohibited. There are also strict quarantine laws between states and fresh food can’t be transported across state lines.