Tips for Travelling With Young Kids

Written by: Suzy Cato

Family getaways don’t always go as planned, but these holiday hints can help when Travelling With Young Kids.

Who’s booked their trans-Tasman trip already? Or are you a little like me, and need to renew your passport first?

I’ve been relishing the “love local” focus we’ve all had since we were given such an unexpected opportunity to “do something new, NZ”. My whānau has loved sampling holiday hotspots and hideaways we’ve not been to before and, with all the local promotion, we’ve added to our long list of New Zealand destinations to enjoy over the coming months, if not years.

We’ve travelled far and wide with our children since they were just babies and it’s become so much easier as they’ve grown and become more independent. But I’m very aware that we really only have 16 summers with our tamariki before that independence extends to them wanting to venture away with friends more often than family, so I’m trying to ensure we create as many memories with them as we can, while we can.

The key, of course, is to come home refreshed and not in need of a holiday, which is sometimes easier said than done, especially with busy little people. So, when travelling with kids, I’ve always tried to live by the Girl Guide motto of “Be Prepared”. Things will, of course, go off script, but that’s normal. If we can go with the flow and cope with the challenges, our whānau will be better able to follow suit.

When travelling with kids, I’ve always tried to live by the Girl Guide motto of ‘Be Prepared’

1 Whether the holiday is them the items over the course local or international, planning generally takes a lot of the stress out of travel. Encouraging older children to research the area and find things of interest is a great way to put the devices to good use and it gets their input on the adventure, too.

2 Maps of the area and information brochures are great to have tucked into hand luggage for pondering over. They can bring about some great conversations, too.

3 My nappy bag always had a good supply of distractors, along with the necessities. Things to chew, things that made noise, books, toy cars, things that would open and close or that had a hole you could poke a finger through. Get the items out one at a time and use them sparingly – they can be true moment savers, if not life savers.

4 When your kids are old enough to carry their own bags, make sure you have plenty of suitable distractors there, too: puzzle books, colouring books, cards, snacks (raisins/ crackers/dried fruit and fruit slices). Sometimes giving them an empty backpack and handing of the journey can be better – so those edibles are not emptied out and devoured all at once!

Books are a good distraction during car trips, while a pack of cards can be great for winding down as a family at the end of a long day.

5 A playlist of singalong favourites, audio books and car games can be invaluable. I spy, memory, guess the hum, finish the sentence and car cricket are all great games. But save the ultimate game until last and maybe consider a prize; “Who can be silent the longest” has saved many a trip, as the children get tired and scratchy.

6 If you’re planning your first trans-Tasman flight, you may like to do a local trial run first. Either way, be prepared to do the miles through the aisles with toddlers, and ensure you have a bottle (or boob) ready for the descent. Swallowing as the plane descends will make a world of difference to those tiny ears, just as snacks and a water bottle work wonders for older kids and even us adults.

7 Allow for some downtime between the activities and sightseeing. Play on the beach and the playground, run on some grass, sit and read a book or have a little familiar screen time. You’ll benefit from some rest as much your kids will.

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