Traveling with children can sometimes be a challenge. Especially long car journeys or plane trips are very exhausting for children. After two to three hours at the latest, small children become restless, start screaming or ask impatiently when the holiday destination will finally be reached. Because of these experiences, parents often even shy away from traveling with their children to far away holiday destinations. But a holiday with small children can also be an unforgettable experience and create many beautiful memories if you follow a few tips and plan the holiday in good time.
I'll pack our bags and take with me...
A fun and well-organised holiday starts with packing your bags. Make sure you take all the important items with you so that you don't have to buy anything on holiday or, in the worst case, are even forced to leave earlier. The following things are part of every family holiday:
- Medicines from the pharmacy
- Vaccination pass (take care of vaccinations in good time when traveling to distant countries)
- cash/credit cards
- Identity and travel documents
- Telephone number of the paediatrician in case of emergencies
- Appropriate clothing to the weather (swim suit if necessary)
- Sufficient change of clothes
- Hygiene items such as nappies, washcloths, tissues, sunscreen, etc
- Favourite cuddly toy or cuddly blanket or similar
- Technical accessories (mobile phone, charging cable, headphones, MP3 player, etc.)
Tip: If you’re a single parent, it’s important to prepare your departure with the child thoroughly. During your holiday, tell the neighbours about your holiday destination. You may want to arrange for friends or friends to take care of your home during this time.
Balancing the needs of children and parents
The fact that thorough preparation is half the battle is particularly true when traveling. Especially when vacationing with the family, the individual needs of the individual family members are often almost contradictory. After all, as adults you want to live out your needs for activity or relaxation, but at the same time you don't want to neglect your children. When it comes to a family holiday, it’s therefore important to reconcile both worlds: on the one hand the parents' needs, on the other hand fun and entertainment for the children.
The first step to a successful holiday is planning together. Feel free to involve your children and make sure that the activities for adults and children alternate during your holiday. For example, you can plan a cultural museum visit, but play mini golf or football with the kids beforehand. Afterwards, the little ones are "busy" and more patient, so that they can better endure a longer tour in the museum.
Choose the right holiday destination
Adults usually have concrete ideas about where the journey should go. Children are much more flexible - as long as there are slides and play facilities, it doesn't matter to them whether you fly to the Canary Islands or Turkey. It’s therefore best to make your holiday destination dependent on your individual needs as well as the time and financial framework. Certain hobbies and desires can often be easily combined with one another, such as an active hiking holiday that ends with a stay in a wellness hotel.
The following applies to the very little ones: choose a holiday destination that can be reached in a maximum of two to three hours by car, so as not to overexert your child. If possible, you should not travel with infants who are less than 12 weeks old.
Think about what means of transport you want to travel with
Think carefully beforehand about the means of transport you want to travel with. Within Europe, for example, you often have the choice of traveling by car, train or plane. If you are planning a round trip, we recommend a trip with a mobile home, in which all family members have plenty of space. If you want to spend the night more comfortably, you should rent a holiday apartment or a holiday home.
Important: If your child hates long car journeys or is afraid of flying, it makes sense to take their needs into account. So you don't put your little darling under stress before the actual holiday and start a relaxed outward journey. If a longer drive cannot be avoided, it’s advisable to drive “anti-cyclically”. Try to avoid weekends and rush hour traffic and instead head out in the early evenings or early mornings when traffic is light. Also plan a break at least every two hours where the children can stretch their legs.
Sit relaxed on the plane
Traveling by plane is often particularly stressful for families. Between packed suitcases, crowded waiting halls and the security check, there are often crying children who are not fully utilised or for whom everything is too much. But with a few tricks, the next flight can be approached in a much more relaxed manner:
Feel free to spend a little more time in the departure lounge and queue at the back for onboarding. This gives the kids more time to play in the waiting room. Afterwards, it’s often easier for the children to keep their feet still on a short-haul flight.
In order to alleviate the unpleasant pressure in your ears, you should stock up on water before departure. Nasal sprays or chewing gum also relieve the pressure on the ears when the plane takes off or lands.
Please don't try to "occupy" your children with sweets. On the one hand, this only damages the teeth, on the other hand, many children are even more excited than usual due to the sugar. Instead, try playing child-friendly games during the flight (e.g. “I see something you don’t see”). Older children can also pass the time alone with a good (audio) book or a film during a flight.
Pay attention to a stomach-friendly diet. Children in particular should not eat heavy food on planes or on long car journeys. Crackers, fruit and muesli bars are harmless for the small hunger in between, which are not so heavy in the stomach.
Prepare for bad times. On flights and long car journeys, a crushing bag should always be at hand in case of an emergency. The same applies to your favourite pillow if your child suddenly gets tired and wants to rest.
Stay relaxed and calm as parents
No matter how well the holiday is planned, there will always be situations in which the children whine or lose their nerve. Therefore, do not expect too much from your child, as a holiday in a foreign place is usually exhausting for the little ones and takes its toll. If possible, parents should take turns looking after children in stressful situations. This way each of you gets a little downtime to regenerate. This breathing space is also good for the children, since the serenity and relaxation of the parents on holiday is transferred to the child's mind as if by magic.