TRAVELLING WITH KIDS? 8 SIMPLE RULES TO FOLLOW
If your excitement over travel plans seems to have died down, only because you’re worried about keeping a handle on things, Nidhi Batra, co-founder and director, Nirvana Excursions, shares a few pointers to make travelling a whole lot easier on yourself
Tips to make your travel plans go smoothly
JUST the prospect of travelling with a child, can be quite frightening. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that difficult. As a mother to a four-year-old, trust me when I tell you that the avid traveller in me has quite literally been there and done that! Along my way, and a few wrong turns here and there, experience has taught me a few things that I’m about to share with you. From keeping your baby clean, well-fed and generally happy, to the more important task of ensuring your sanity is intact, all while making sure you and your kids have a good time, I have it all. You can’t really ask for more!
RULE NO 1: PLAN LIKE YOU’VE NEVER PLANNED BEFORE
Yes, I know that this is the obvious thing to say but the more planning you get in, the better prepared you’ll be. Make sure the hotels you’ll be staying at are baby-friendly. This means they will provide the necessary travel gear like prams, strollers, baby carriers, or room must-haves like a high chair, cradles and even cater to specific food requests. Besides, no matter how much you promise yourself that you will keep your exploring to a minimum, you’ll definitely get the urge to step out once you’re there. However, you need to intimate your hotel in advance and prebook these items. Ensure you have your
itinerary in place and arrangements made for pickup and drop to the airport and for sightseeing trips. Don’t do anything on the fly. The better prepared you are, the easier the trip will be for you and your baby.
RULE NO 2: PACK SMART
Packing can be quite difficult when you have to consider your little one. I try to follow these three rules: Pack what’s familiar, pack what’s convenient and make sure everything that goes into your bad can do double-duty. So for instance, if your baby absolutely cannot do without her stuffed teddy, do pack that, but don’t pack any other toys. You can always keep them entertained with colourful rubberbands or a piece of paper and a crayon.
RULE NO 3: THE COMFORT ZONE
There are certain items your child just cannot do without—be it a favourite sipper, pillow or toy. Moreover, you’re travelling to a new place, and this could be unnerving for a child, disrupting an otherwise flawless routine. Packing something familiar will prove to be extremely useful when your child refuses to eat, has trouble sleeping or simply is in a cranky mood. Packing a soothing onsie or blanket that works to calm him should be your go-to item. Try not to experiment when you’re travelling with your child. Pack whatever he is the most comfortable in, even if it’s a ratty old shirt.
RULE NO 4: OPT FOR SERVICED APARTMENTS
Unless you are one of the lucky few with a baby who’ll eat practically anything, you might have to prepare something that may not be easily available. Opting for serviced apartments or apartment hotels wherever possible, means you’ll have your own kitchen, and can prepare wholesome meals yourself.
RULE NO 5: RELAX EVERY CHANCE YOU GET
The whole point of a vacation is to relax and break away from routine, but with a child I tow, that’s not entirely possible. The key is to take things slow and not pack in too much in one day. Yes, it’s natural to want to do, see and experience everything but try not to do that. Do explore to your heart’s content but also make sure you get plenty of rest.
RULE NO 6: LET YOUR BABY EXPLORE
While it’s normal to feel worried or tensed about taking your child to strange places and allowing him to eat newer foods or cuisines, it’s important to allow them a certain degree of freedom to explore. They might surprise you with the dishes they take a liking to or the activities they end up preferring.
RULE NO 7: EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY
While the universal opinion today to engage a child’s imagination away from technology, when travelling with a child, things aren’t always as black and white. Sometimes, you may have to tread the grey areas. Like for example, when on a long flight or holed up in hotel rooms for a long period of time, your smartphone or tablet can provide some much-needed respite. Of course, make sure you have educationally stimulating and age-appropriate apps that will keep your child occupied. This way, you won’t feel guilty about indulging them, and they’ll learn something too!
RULE NO 8: ADJUST, ADJUST, ADJUST
Now, despite all the time and effort you’ve put into planning, when it comes to execution, things might not always go your way. Which is why it’s always better to be prepared with a Plan B, C and D, if necessary. And when all else fails, adjust as best as you can to the situation. It’s really all that you can do in the end! Now, every child is different and you, as a parent, knows exactly what works best for him. Keep these rules in mind, and if necessary, even add to them. Till then, travel safe and don’t forget to have some fun!