When travelling with small children, being unprepared can result in distressed children and stressed out parents.
It is easy to forget even the most obvious items, so planning ahead will ensure you don’t miss packing the items that are essential to your child’s happiness and comfort while on vacation.
Pack their favourites
Whether it’s their first significant period away from home or they’re already mini globe-trekkers, going somewhere new can be very daunting for a child. To minimise the stress they may be feeling you should always pack some of their favourite items.
Whether it’s the blanket they can’t sleep without, the teddy they couldn’t possibly leave behind or a book they love to be read to them before bed, these items are the ones that need to be top of the packing pile.
Their favourite snacks, bath toys or even an outfit they love to wear can provide a point of continuity for them by keeping them as close to their daily routine as possible.
Keep them entertained
Travelling almost always involves long periods of time where you’re simply sitting down waiting to arrive at your destination. Whether you’re travelling by air, boat or car, keeping your children entertained is a challenge in itself.
As well as your child’s usual favourite toys try to bring things that will get them excited about the destination you’re taking them to. This could include an iPad with a fun video of where you’re going or a picture book with all the fun things they will get to do there.
Child psychologist at Boston University, Dr Jonathan Comer, advises parents to bring several new toys along that are introduced slowly throughout the trip. Bringing new toys out will increase its novelty, he said.
Alongside items that are specific to your child are the everyday essentials that will help your trip run more smoothly.
Non-perishable travel snacks are good to have on hand – raisins and cereal bars, for example. However, always be aware of laws and regulations surrounding bringing food items into a country or state that you are visiting.
Ease your child’s concern over being in a new place by bringing a nightlight – perhaps their favourite one, which will ease their nerves at bedtime. If you are travelling overseas, don’t forget to bring travel adaptors to run any electrical items through.
The last thing you want when travelling is for you or your child to get sick, but no matter how careful you are accidents and illness can and do happen. Having a good range of first aid items on hand will prevent frantic dashes to a local pharmacy that may not even have what you need.
Particularly in countries where English is not their native language, having brands of medicine that you know are safe and effective for your child is invaluable.
Items to pack in your first aid kit include: bandages, antihistamines, cough medicine, antiseptic cream, bug repellent and relief, digital thermometer, tweezers, paracetamol, anti-diarrohea tablets and sunscreen.
If you’re heading somewhere hot and sunny you probably won’t think of bringing an umbrella, but they are very helpful for keeping your child in the shade when outside. Sunglasses and a sunhat are also packing essentials.
Clothing to pack
When choosing what to pack your child to wear on holiday you should always aim to prepare for any situation, but at the same time not pack more than you need.
Cotton clothing is a good choice as it is virtually wrinkle free so will travel much better than other fabrics, and choose block colour clothes that are easy to mix and match.
Save space by bringing shorts that can double up as boys swimming trunks and invest in long-sleeve swim shirts to prevent sunburn when in the pool or at the beach.
It might be hot outside but it can easily get cold under the air conditioning, so pack long-sleeve tops to keep the kids warm in bed and when out and about.
Bring comfortable shoes that are also weather-proof, in case of surprise downpours or rough terrain; travelling often involves a lot more walking than anticipated.
Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes for the journey there. Accidents can happen, so having a spare pair of clothes in your bag will be a life saver – particularly when in the confines of an airplane. Letting your children travel in their pyjamas will also help them to be more comfortable on long journeys.