Ok so don’t get me wrong! While I do love traveling and exploring new places, I have to admit that I end up suffering from some travel anxiety when I have to pack to go on a holiday with kids. It just so happens (always!) that just before I have to travel, someone’s sick, or work’s suddenly hectic, or there’s some other kind of stress. When I get to the destination, much of the anxiety lifts, and I find myself enjoying.
While no vacation is ever all “good” or “bad”, I find that it helps to learn from your experiences. So a little secret I had was that I would come back from each holiday and jot down what I had learnt from my experiences in a little diary. And I would refer to all of my previous lists whenever I would go on the next holiday. Over time I found a pattern to my lessons. And this time I thought – why not share my lessons with other moms and give back to the “village”. So here goes, my top 10, in no particular order:
Rule Number 1: **Always eat a hot dinner**
I found that while lunch is often skippable (you’ve often eaten a really heavy breakfast at the hotel, you are out all day, or you just feel like munching on something rather than having a full meal), one non-negotiable rule especially when traveling with kids is to always eat a hot dinner. It may just be cheese pizza or whatever the kids like, but ‘hot’ is key to keeping little throats well, and ‘dinner’ is key as well to keeping kids well!
Rule Number 2: **Carry a variety of munchies, and not just sweet ones**
Carrying munchies is of course a done thing, if you want to avoid hungry, tired, and cranky kids. What I learnt is, when you are on holiday and not perhaps getting all of your basic meals, the body craves a variety of tastes, so carrying mostly sweet/chocolate biscuits is going to lead to a situation where you actually can’t look at more sweets! So I realized how important it was to carry a mix of sweet and savoury snacks. Here too, variety is key. Think wafers of different varieties rather than just chocolate cream biscuits. Think Lay’s of different flavours, kurkure, soya snacks, nachos, and crackers (which go well with cheese spread and jam). And your own home made matthis and namak paras, which I find a God sent really.
Rule Number 3: **Always carry lollipops on a flight**
I suspect there is a psychological reason apart from the scientific one, but there’s something about a lollipop that will soothe a child on a flight, even if it works more for its distraction power.
Rule Number 4: **Buy as you go, click as you go**
OK so this is not necessarily a rule only for travel with kids, but generally. I made this because I would always return from a holiday with a bag of regrets – “I saw this and thought I would buy it later”, “oh we’ll buy it on the way back at the airport”, “it looks expensive!”. Well, the opportunity slipped and I never bought the thing. Moods have a way of deteriorating on the way back from a holiday. So buy upfront, and don’t worry how much you are spending. Years later, you still have the thing, who cares how much it cost! And yes, don’t postpone clicking. I saw a certain decoration at a hotel we stayed in recently and thought – “oh I’ll click this tomorrow!” By the next day, they had taken it down 😦
Rule Number 5: **Pack according to the destination**
So this may sound silly but it happens! This is when you go to a warm destination from freezing Delhi, say. You just can’t imagine what the weather is going to be like at the destination. But then it’s important to foresee. Check weather apps, read reviews, ask people, but don’t assume the weather won’t be different from where you are.
Rule Number 6: **Arrive close to check in time**
Yes it may be difficult to exactly synchronise your flight timings with hotel check in timings, but especially when traveling with kids, it’s a good idea at least to be AWARE. It is NOT welcome to hang around in the waiting area for hours with hungry, tired kids, waiting for your room. Makes for bad tempers and a bad start.
Rule Number 7:**Always carry the Vim!**
OK so while one isn’t exactly going to a holiday to work, I tend to be a little hyper about hygiene, boiling water and storing it neatly in washed sippers. I don’t know how much the effort is worth it, but I would still say, don’t forget your (liquid) vim! You’ll be glad for it.
Rule Number 8: **Carry the powders in Nutella jars**
So this is a rule I made when I would carry milk powder, Bournvita, Tang in sachets, and then struggle to store them using rubber bands. Now all I do is carry all the powders in neatly labelled Nutella jars. It’s convenient and amazingly mess free. Don’t forget to carry your own (IKEA) plastic plates, bowls, spoons and knives. Extremely handy and far better than asking hotel staff for extra cutlery all the time.
Rule Number 9: **Plan, Plan and Plan**
Now this is something I made up when I feel we messed up our itineraries in some visits. There’s no harm in being aware, reading up (TripAdvisor is a favourite), discussing and planning your day to day itinerary with your family thoroughly before you travel. And usually, while the kids are well, plan the major outings upfront. Like in Hong Kong, I would say do Ocean Park on the first day. And always alternate with a lighter outing. A friend also gave me a valuable tip. She said if we’ve had a hectic day, I let the kids sleep until late the next day. Then we rest that entire day and perhaps go out only in the evening.
Rule Number 10: **Don’t leave behind the devices**
Last but not the least, and this is a debatable one, but I’ve come to believe in its power, so I say don’t leave behind the devices. Yes, you are going on a holiday and there’s a lot to explore, but I’ve seen one thing and that is that when you’ve had too much of exploring, you can do with the much needed device-break to recharge yourselves. So pack those iPads and Kindles, and don’t forget the chargers 😀
Enjoy the break from routine rather than stress about it. Remember, don’t come back with a bagful of regrets! And always eat the hot dinner 🙂 Safe travels!
This blog was first published on momspresso.com in January 2018 (AND got over 1.8k likes – my very own blockbuster hit!). https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/rashis-stories/article/always-eat-a-hot-dinner-and-more-10-rules-on-surviving-travel-with-young-children