The lovely Amanda Kendle is taking over Style for a Happy Home today to talk about travelling with young kids. Please make her feel welcome! x
When I was pregnant with my son four years ago I was so determined that I would still be able to travel a reasonable amount, and travel happily and not stressfully. I didn’t mention this to many people, because when I did people would immediately start telling me all these tales of woe about how you can’t take young kids on long haul flights or share horror stories of friends who took babies on trips to different time zones and it messed up their sleep patterns for months and all this other negativity. I decided it was better not to listen.
Instead, I booked his first flight months before he was born (I had to ring back later with a name and birthdate!) and got his passport when he was four weeks old. We have been using it ever since, and I have figured out some of the secrets for making travelling with kids a great adventure for everyone involved:
- Expect them to love travel. Talk to your kids about travel as though it’s a normal part of life and then, just like going to swimming lessons or visiting grandma, they will think travelling now and again is simply expected and nothing to worry about.
- Help your kids learn to entertain themsleves with whatever is available at that moment – which is not always flashing and beeping toys. I was a bit of a stickler for “no noisy toys” when my son was really young and I think it paid off! On our last trip to Penang (aged three and a half) he put in a request for some colourful paper, scissors and sticky tape, and he turned out hotel room into a race track. (It was tricky tidying it up for housekeeping to clean our room, but worth it for the hours it occupied him!)
- Keep a balance of kid-focused activities and “normal” travel activities in your day, and find a way to turn them all into stuff your child will enjoy. I wasn’t sure my son would be that enthralled with visiting a bunch of temples in Malaysia but we talked a lot about the colourful buildings and all the different styles and he was always keen to go to more. In Ireland last year, we spent hours walking the countryside looking for new animals to talk to.
- Let go of the reigns a bit to make travelling fun for everyone. I’m a bit mean about screen time but when we’re travelling, my son is welcome to the iPad; I’m also less fussy about the food he eats and the time he gets to bed, and because we’re all in holiday mode and don’t have to fit to a school or work timetable, it really doesn’t matter, and because we’ve travelled regularly enough he knows that the rules go back to normal as soon as we get home.
Of course, this is just my experience with my son, and it is definitely easier with one than more, but I still think that a lot of parents talk themselves out of travelling with their kids and really miss out on some great adventures, and building some brilliant family memories. Be brave and go adventuring – you can do it!
Amanda Kendle is a travel addict, blogger, social media consultant and parent to one travel-loving four-year-old son. She has blogged about the benefits of travel at NotABallerina.com for almost a decade and has recently taken her interest in reverse culture shock a step further by starting the site FixReverseCultureShock.com to help people fit back into their home countries after spending time abroad.