‘A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ ~Laozi
That’s ok if you are NOT travelling with children who are ONLY interested in arriving and who inevitably asks, ‘Are we there yet?’ as soon as you turn on the ignition switch! Travelling any distance can be difficult with kids. Travel can also be difficult without kids depending on your state of mind and attitude towards the journey ahead. My first love is travel so I have never suffered any anxiety related symptoms over going places but I do understand many folk find ‘on the move’ stressful. While travelling, I have picked up a few practical tips that make travelling easier and less complicated. Traveling doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be simple, if you keep it so.
- Pack early, at least mentally, a few days before you leave. Let the kids help pack their own bags if they are old enough, and discuss the trip with them — kids are much better behaved when they know what to expect. Packed bags mean less confusion, less standing around and less frustration on departure day. This translates into a pleasant start to your trip.
- Travel light. Travelling light means you will not have to wait to check-in a bag or get the bag after the flight, and it cuts down the packing and unpacking time. In recent years budget airlines have helped us focus on only packing the bare essentials and minimal toiletries. Take a small backpack, or one small piece of hand luggage. Don’t pack it too heavy and choose light footwear and clothing. Two or three changes of clothes are sufficient. Clothes can always be washed and hung out to dry overnight. I tend to wear my heavier items of clothing to and from the airport. Sometimes I am glad of the extra cardigan or coat in aircrafts and other forms of transport with air-conditioning.
- Plan a road trip with your child’s sleeping schedule in mind. Many parents choose to leave late in the evening and let the children sleep while they divide the driving. Other parents will try their best to adhere to nap times in the car — after all, few things are more unpleasant than a child who’s missed his or her nap.
- A great way to avoid the inevitable question (are we there yet?) is to give the children a map, or, even more fun, help them create their own. You can trace the route together and point out interesting landmarks so that they will have a sense of where they are going.
- Plan ahead but keep the agenda loose. I often ask for recommendations from locals, Let the day lead you where it will. Having no set agenda means you aren’t pressured to get anything done each day, which means you can enjoy yourself fully.
- Pack an empty water bottle, so you can get through security checkpoints, and then fill up the bottle at the airport water fountain after the checkpoint.
- Pack ample distractions—toys, games, books and snacks for each child so the fighting is kept to a minimum.
- Travel locally. Be a tourist in your own hometown — see the sights, walk the area, explore and try to find new things you’ve never seen before. You don’t need to spend a lot to travel locally.
- Don’t forget to put on your adventure hat and your smile especially when things don’t go according to plan.
- Before you leave, decide to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.