Travelling as a family allows experiences to be shared. It can add interest to family time together away from the pressures of work and education. You can gain different perspectives on places when travelling in a group with children. It is often easier to get to meet local people, people can be friendlier, and when picking educational experiences for children you often learn something yourself.
You may have to deal with bored children in airports or on long trips, extra luggage when they get tired, and some frustration when they complain after going to all the planning effort when you could have left them at home with the grandparents. Luckily, when you return home the crisis times seem to fade, and the memories of the activities together get remembered.
Here are some tips to consider when travelling with family;
Talk to your spouse on why it is important to travel as a family
A good marriage thrives on the open exchange of emotion, desires, and beliefs. Talk to your spouse on why it is important to travel with family and make arrangements to have a happy journey.
Who qualifies as a child?
You know what a child is, but when travelling the definition of a child varies. Normally it is based on age. There may also be minimum or maximum weight and height restriction on some attractions for safety purposes.
- Infants and toddlers under 2 to 6 years – often no charge.
- Children under about 12 or sometimes 14 years – child rates normally apply.
- Young People/Teenagers 14 to 18 years – child rates in some cases, often there are special youth rates, otherwise the normal adult rates apply.
- Young Adults 18 and up – full-time students under 26 can qualify for discounts with an International Student ID. Some discounts apply to all people under 26.
- By Plane – In general, flying is the most uncomfortable way to travel both for children and their parents. However, it is the usually the fastest and often the only way to get to certain places, and for some trips you’ll just have to brace and prepare for the inevitable. Try to find a direct flight to your destination, at off-peak travel times. Check on the ticket prices by contacting the embassy or travel agencies. Age policy around child and infant tickets varies between airlines. Airports often have play areas as well as nursery or parent rooms with changing tables and rocking chairs for nursing.Parents with smaller children can keep their hands free with a baby sling or baby backpack.
- By Car – You may want your children to use appropriate child car seats when travelling by car. They are as important as seat belts are for you. Some countries require this. In some countries child seats can be rented along with a vehicle, but you may still need to bring your own. It is well worth researching well ahead of time what you need to do and checking with your travel agent or car rental company to see what is ideal.
- By Train or Bus – Make sure your children are seated and/or holding on to something in case of sudden stops (for trains: switches). Also be aware of travelling at peak times when public transport can get very crowded – try to learn when these times are and travel outside them. Like when travelling by car, a little rucksack with books, toys and similar may save your day on longer journeys. Something to eat and drink is also good to have, although try to avoid overly messy or smelly food for the sake of your fellow passengers and yourself. Don’t forget the baby wipes!
- By Boat – Going by boat can be a great way to cover a lot of ground with young children or a fun way to relax with the whole family. Before booking find out some specifics, like the charges, the requirements to travel and etc.
- By Cruises – While some cruises are specifically geared towards families and children, almost all cruise lines now have some services for families. Before booking a cruise find out some specifics: charges and special requirements.
- By Foot – Are your children used to walking moderate distances? Walk with your kids in a safe way, consider about the road rules and avoid walking in crowded places. A baby sling can be a good alternative, especially if streets and roads are in bad shape. Some slings can be used to carry even quite big children
- Get done with the children passport and the permission to travel with children.
- Do not let your children starve as they have a long way to go. Keep yourself and kids hydrated.
- Many accommodation places are set up for adult singles and couples. Travelling as a group of three or more may require you to reserve an extra room or a special family suite. You should always reserve accommodation well in advance so that the proprietor can make appropriate arrangements, such as installing an extra bed. There may be additional charges for extra people as well.
Travelling with your family with create a strong bond. However, it also often means extra preparation to ensure that you can all enjoy the experiences. You have to balance the needs of everyone in the group, and try and avoid many of the additional expenses that can apply to travelling as a group. Make sure you enjoy all the experiences in a safe way with your family.