When it comes to travelling with kids, there’s not a lot of advice that hasn’t already been covered at length. Thank goodness! Having flitted around the world with our children since they were compact travel size tots, we know that travelling with young kids is not unlike herding cats. And we also know that, for the first time family traveller, thoughts of juggling easily-bored kids at 30,000 feet, without a net, is enough to have you reaching for the smelling salts.
But when I sat down to present our top family travel tips for Problogger and Virgin Australia’s Voyagers competition I realised that – from child-proofing hotels and travelling with toddlers to dealing with car sickness and even toilet training in transit – I’d already shared a lot of mine!
Given that this blog is very much guided by the experiences of our entire family, I decided to pick their brains about what they think people really need to know! Mr Eats World’s contribution was a blank expression as he retrieved a lager from the fridge. Multi-tasking never was his strength. Sugarpuff added to the scintillating conversation by requesting I make her a snack. This was not going how I’d hoped…
And then another little voice piped up…
“Mama, you’ve written all these things about travelling with kids…but nobody EVER actually asks us what we think!”
Raffles was right. Nobody has asked the kids what they find most challenging about travel. So I picked his fabulous little brain…
As you can see in the video we made for this post, Raffles certainly does know his stuff when it comes to family travel (and is a total ham)!
But what he and Sugarpuff revealed made me realise that while Mr Eats World and I have been so busy patting ourselves on the back for managing our offspring so well on our travels, it turns out that our cunning wee shysters have pretty much been managing us the whole time.
So, with tongues firmly in cheek, we’re shaking up family travel tips with a seven-year old’s 15 top tips for travelling with parents.
1. Cunning plans – Kids need to be involved in planning your family holiday itinerary so everyone can have a good time. Look at Google with your parents or watch a movie about where you’re going to find out the kind of things you can do. I also like to sample the food before we go so I know what to expect when we get there. Actually, it’s just another excuse to eat.
2. Packing it – Parents are so rubbish at packing. They’re so busy worrying about t-shirts and socks and undies that they forget about the important stuff like my ninja costume and swords.
3. Out of space – Parents are pretty good at making things fit though, and mine taught me how to roll and squeeze things into every available space so there is more room for the fun stuff… so sometimes I can still go full ninja on holidays.
4. Let’s roll – Please, please make your parents bring a stroller for any pre-school family members. Yes, they should be able to walk but they never ever do and you’ll end up spending half of your holiday waiting for them to stop having tantrums about being carried everywhere. I’m looking at you, sis!
5. Carrying on – Your parents need to pack enough snacks and stuff to keep everyone happy on long flights. Ours always pack plenty for us, like activity books and the iPad with new apps and movies but they always forget to bring things to keep themselves busy, so they end up spending the whole flight bugging us to see if we’re ok!
6. Under pressure – Make sure your parents pack something to chew or suck on because we kids can find it hard to ease the pressure in our ears on take off and landing and it can really hurt!
7. Suck up – You’ll probably notice that some grown-ups roll their eyes when they realise they’re sitting next to you on a plane and it isn’t fair because half the time they’re the ones being rude and noisy to the Flight Attendants while we do as we’re told. To stop the dirty looks we pack lollipops with notes and hand them to the people sitting directly around us to let them know that we’ll do our best to be quiet and still! People are usually really nice to us after that!
8. Time bandits – When you’re travelling as a family everything seems to take longer so make sure your parents leave extra time to get places. We don’t do rushing well and need time to drag our feet and chuck the odd tanty… because that’s just how we roll.
9. On queue – Airports can be tiring. I mean, first you have to get there, then check in and go through the scanner thingy and then there’s more queuing with passports and again to get on the plane! Your parents need to understand that you’re going to get bored! But the earlier you arrive, the shorter the queues will be and you should be able to make your flight without somebody going feral.
10. Tanty time – Behaving well at the airport isn’t always advised. If you are going to have a tantrum, save it for the longest queue because sometimes the people at the airport feel sorry for your parents and let you jump to the front of the line so you don’t send everyone else crazy. My little sister is an expert at making this work!
11. Hotel hack – Hotels aren’t always kid friendly so make sure your parents pack a hotel child-proofing kit which, for us, is pretty much a roll of duct tape. Because my sister is still quite little we use it to seal doors and drawers that might lead to dangerous things and we use it to cover power sockets so we don’t end up fried.
12. More manners – Parents will nag you not to run and yell in a hotel and that is fair because there are other people to think about. Use your manners and be considerate. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’ll stop your parents whining!
13. Parents club – Some hotels have Parents Clubs. Sure they call them “kids clubs” but we’re not silly, we know parents only send us there so they can get up to mischief. They can be epic fun but make sure your mum and dad check that the one in your hotel has enough activities for kids your age or you’ll be so bored that you’ll go bonkers.
14.Lost in transit – In each new place, don’t forget to have a family plan in case someone gets lost. Our rule is to stay put so mum and dad can find their way back to us, or to ask the nearest shopkeeper for assistance. And we always have mama’s number and our hotel written on our arm. But the best thing to do is to pay attention and make sure your parents don’t get themselves lost in the first place because they’re too busy posting to Facebook to watch where they’re going. Now I’m looking at you, mama!
15.Easy peasy – No matter how many things you want to see when you’re travelling with your mum and dad try not to overdo it. The less you try to pack in, the more enjoyable your holiday will be because frazzled parents really aren’t much fun!