Our tips for travelling with kids
Travelling with kids, what can go wrong? You have the car packed, your route mapped out, and a hotel waiting for you at the end. What are you waiting for? The kids are packed in the car and you are off.
Well, no matter how much you plan, plot, and pack, travelling with kids can easily go off course. We asked our staff for their stories and tips for how best to travel with kids. Here you go…
Alex and her sister took the kids on a road trip to Saskatchewan. That’s three kids, all under ten, for an eight-hour drive. Sounds fun right? The moms had snacks, games, and a portable DVD player loaded with movies. They were prepared and ready to go! But after only an hour and a half on the road, things went south when the youngest kid vomited over the oldest.
We won’t get into the gritty details, but Alex’s eight-hour drive ended up taking 16! In the end, it’s what she remembers most about the trip, but she would do things differently next time. Here are her tips:
- Pack food, and more food. Kids get hungry.
- Have a selection of games and then some.
- An electronic device that does not require a lot of focus from the parents is a must.
- And most importantly, cleaning supplies! Make sure you have plastic bags, garbage bags, wipes, paper towels, and 1000 napkins.
(Ps. Before you go on a road trip with the family, get a quote for out-of-province-travel-coverage.)
Clarissa and her husband tried to take their four boys (and two dogs) camping this summer. The boys are 11, 8, 4, and 2 years old. Like Alex, Clarissa planned. She knew her boys can each eat the same amount as a family of four so she packed two coolers full of food and water for the TWO-DAY trip. She made sure to pack for the younger two and double-checked the older boys’ bags (made sure they packed underwear).
In the end, they packed so much that they had to take a second car to fit everything.
Clarissa learned a lot on this trip, and spoiler alert, travelling with kids wasn’t as easy as she thought. First, she learned that it can take up to 45 minutes to fuel up for gas. You know, between everyone having to go to the washroom and a dog escaping from the car.
Next Clarissa realized that toys are a good thing to pack. With no toys, the kids didn’t know what to do with themselves! They tried a family hike, but carrying a two-year-old is tiring.
After 24 hours of camping, entertaining the kids, and trying to keep the dogs quiet, they decided to call it quits.
While the trip didn’t go as planned, Clarissa has a few tips for you:
- Pack lots of food. Chances are the kids won’t eat any of it, but if you don’t pack it they will inevitably be hungry.
- Don’t expect much help with set up or tear down.
- Never forget toys. You will regret it.
- Don’t expect kids to be kids. You need to plan all their activities or they will be whiny and bored.
- Get a dog sitter or else you will spend more time keeping them quiet than anything else.
Leaving on a jet plane with the kids? If you’re thinking of taking the kids to Disney or anywhere that requires air travel, you’ll want to read these plane tips. Taking kids on a plane is an adventure in itself. Here’s what our staff think you should know:
- Stock up on Gravol. It helps the kids sleep on the plane.
- Make sure you have water or candy ready. (Bring an empty water bottle and fill it up once you’re through security).
- Pack gum or gummies in your carry-on for take-off and landing.
- Bring an iPad with Netflix shows downloaded.
- Pre-download the airline’s app. Some planes now require you to bring your own device to access the in-flight entertainment.
- Bring a device for you and a device for them, with enough headphones for everyone. That way, you can listen to a podcast and they have their entertainment.
- Don’t pay to select seats on the plane. No one is going to want to sit beside your children anyways.
- Pack snacks, drink and more snacks.
- Buy insurance as kids are prone to injuries / ear infections (Brio Insurance can help with that!)
- If your suitcases weigh too much or can’t quite close, your kids can wear layers of clothing including Disney princess dresses on the flight home.
- Kids qualify for duty same limits as adults, so they come in handy when bringing back big-ticket items from the US.
We’ve shared a lot of advice so far. Despite plans going off course and the fact that travelling with your kids is a lot more work than travelling alone, we think that these experiences are something you won’t regret. Rob Krause says it well in the travel memoir “Don’t Try This at Home”.
“But what our adventures most certainly did do was to allow us to just spend time together — something that is at a premium during the course of our everyday lives. Between racing to get kids to school, yourself to work, preparing meals, and all of the scheduled activities that kids are enrolled in, the simple act of being with and focusing on one another is often lost.” – Rob Krause.
Ps. That book is a hilarious, locally written story about a gap year with the kids. It might give you a few more tips about travelling with the kids, while hopefully not scaring you away from the idea altogether.