You may have done a number of trips with your child/children, or you may have done none. I know no one could have prepared me for some of the things I’ve learned traveling with my minion squad both locally and abroad. You almost always need to have a checklist handy. This will help you with navigating and avoid panic and stress along the way.
Before The Journey
Your planning all depends on where you are going and how you are getting there. Are you going by bus? Plane? Car? The mode of transportation matters a lot because this will help you understand specific needs. Will you need to pack a booster seat? Will your child need their own seat on the flight? If you are nervous about flight seating and setup, contact the airline helpdesk before finalizing your booking and understand what their policies are.
Now is a good time to have emergency numbers saved somewhere easily accessible. Write them down in a journal and save them on your phone, smartphones have this not so smart habit of dying when you need them the most. Speaking of emergency numbers, are your kids old enough to learn your cell phone number and their home address? You might want to practice this one a number of times before jetting off.
What to pack
A first aid kit is always a good idea. It does not have to be the entire drug store in there but the basics like paracetamol and band-aids are some of the main items you would possibly need. Carry your clinic cards and medical aid cards with you in case of any medical emergency. If you are traveling abroad look at what your health insurance covers for you and your kids and be sure to have contact details for your insurance agency in case you need to clarify terms in your policy.
Traveling comes with lots of exploration, especially with foods from a new place as part of immersing into different cultures and experiences. Try and strike a balance between a sense of familiarity and trying out completely new foods that may cause allergic reactions. For your own comfort, check-in with restaurants and whoever is preparing your food if there are any traces of nuts or common allergens.
I would be the first to say that I am thrilled to be able to travel again, however traveling with kids during this pandemic is extra tricky. When it comes to testing prior departure, you may need to check with the destination country, regarding their legislation; toddlers and babies are not required to have a negative PCR test, with some airlines exempting children under 12. Give yourself 1 to 2 hours extra time to go through all security and health checks without stressing too much.
There is no such thing as social distancing once you enter the airport building and even less on the plane. Ideally you would prefer to find a quiet busy corner away from the crowd, but that’s not always easy. Keep speaking to the little ones and reminding them that we need to be more cautious to stay healthy now.
I don’t know about you, but face masks with kids equals trouble, be patient and always remember to check that the masks are still in place as this is a requirement for anyone except for toddlers and babies. Most reliable remains to clean your hands regularly, wipe down surfaces with sanitizing wipes and for local trips, pack your own snacks. We are in this together so most travelers out there are being just as careful as you are, you will be fine.
Before hitting the road make sure the entire family knows and understands what the travel plan is. Where you’re going, how you’re traveling, and what the seating arrangements will be. If you have older children, get them involved in planning and organizing parts of the travel plan. This is a fun way to keep your kids focused on the plan and alert throughout the journey.
Bring a few toys, books, or a blanky from home. Hotel / Airbnb life is exciting but there’s no place like home. Bringing your children’s favorite items along gives them a sense of familiarity and assurance that they are safe. Ensure that your accommodations have the amenities you’ll need while traveling with children. Always make sure your Airbnb accommodates children especially toddlers and babies. Some Airbnb’s have strict regulations against booking with children or babies.
After all, you know your child/ children more than anyone else does. Every child is different, prepping for one child may not be the same as prepping for the other. Be patient with yourself and get everyone in the family involved.