We’ve been home long enough from our trip to Ireland now that I wish we were travelling again. I’ve had time to come up with my top 5 tips for travelling abroad with kids under the age of 10, or at least my kids.
5. Snacks. Snack it up. Depending on where you’re flying you might want to avoid fresh fruit if you don’t think you’re going to consume all of it on the flight. Also, beware of pouches of applesauce as they may cause an issue going through security (I’m looking at you, Denver. Still not over you trying to tell me how to care for my child), but there are plenty of other options. There are an innumerable number of crackers, fruit snacks and dried fruits you can have at the ready.
I felt we were asking a lot of our kids to travel with us and tried to keep food I knew they would eat on hand. Sometimes a little taste of home can keep us going while were abroad.
4. Have a Plan. I’m sure you’ve done your research. If not, go ahead. I’ll wait. Take your time. Have an idea of what order things need to happen in when you land. Talk to your kids about it. Explain that they have to get in line and wait and talk to people behind partitions and be patient. Then they’ll have to rent a car or find a bus or however you’re going to get to your next stop. Have it worked out so you know what you’re doing and when. Things will go a lot smoother if you don’t have to improvise.
But maybe don’t plan everything down to the minute. We knew where we were going to be and when, but beyond that we kind of played it by ear. We spent a fair amount of time in Dublin at the beginning and we knew of places we wanted to visit, but did we do everything? Heck, no. We took our time and only did the things we felt up to and even then one or more of us might have still needed a nap.
3. Imagine the worst. Sounds like fun, right? Give it a try. Think about the worst that could happen, outside of things that are completely beyond your control, like an international incident, and imagine what you would do in that situation. What happens if you get delayed and miss a flight? Your luggage gets lost? A reservation gets misplaced? Think about how you might cope. The exercise will help you prepare mentally. Then you can remain calm if something similar comes to pass.
Nothing happened while we were abroad and we didn’t have to worry about any connecting flights, but I can just imagine having lost a passport, or not having anywhere to stay during a very popular tourist season. The truth is, we would have got along and made some memories on the way, which leads me into number 2.
2. Enjoy it. Not everybody gets the chance to travel when their kids are little and might have absolutely no memory of the experience, but that’s what pictures are for. If you give yourself lots of time to plan, pack, and make the travel time part of the journey, you might find yourself having a good time. Especially of you’re not too hard on yourself when something doesn’t happen the way you think it should. You’re still making memories. Try and make them pleasant ones. If that means you visit a candy shop in the middle of the day, you visit a candy shop in the middle of the day. If that means you drink too much tea and eat too many scones, well, then you drink too much tea and eat too many scones.
Sure, those are beautiful cliffs, but did you see the pony? Count on kids to point out what you might miss if you’re not paying attention. And then take a picture, because they’ll remember the pony and want to see it again.
1. Hydrate. This one cycles back to number 5, but it’s important to remember air travel takes place inside of a dehumidified tin can and can dry you out. If they’re old enough, give each kid a water bottle they’re responsible for and make sure they drink out of it often. Yes, it may increase your visits to the restroom, but you also might avoid picking up a nasty bug with all the excess hand washing. Just remember, no liquids through security. Fill up afterwards. Make your kids help you find a water fountain. First one to find a bubbler gets a piece of candy!