In certain parts of Canada, we’re still waiting for summer as we watch the steady sheets of rain pummel the earth, our faces pressed to window panes in endless rows down endless residential streets, looking outward with wistful longing. But the calendar says it’s officially summer holiday time – and what better time to get away than monsoon season?
For singles and child-free couples, this presents a panorama of amazing opportunity. The world is quite literally your portable oyster right now.
As any parent knows, however, traveling with young’uns presents a series of challenges from airport maneuvering to time zone nap mechanics.
So to make the journey a little easier, a group of wise expert people has compiled lists of helpful tips on how to make your travels smoother and increase the amount of time that you, the procreator of miraculous life, gets to relax and enjoy the ride as well.
Also see: Best toys for summer car trips
Here’s a list of top tricks to be the smartest family traveling band on the road (or in the air).
• Time management: You’ve finally managed to get Junior on a relatively steady nap schedule. This is the Holy Grail of toddler rearing. But an all-day trip to visit the grandparents down south is threatening to destroy all the work you spent months, years carefully crafting. There’s a way around this, says a very smart person from the Dallas Morning News. If possible, try to book a flight that corresponds with your child’s nap time. That way, Junior can sleep and the schedule remains intact. If layovers make that a challenge, try to book a flight with a long enough layover to give you time to get from one flight to the next without rushing.
• Security woes: Going through the amped-up security process at the airport isn’t fun on a good day. Now imagine doing the same thing with a couple of cranky children in tow. The Dallas Morning News recommends giving yourself ample time to ease the stress, and make sure you’re organized while you’re at it. This means packing as light as possible (for parents, this is a relative term, of course) with only the essentials. Less stuff means less of a burden to carry from baggage counter to gate. If you’re sporting formula, know that it will likely be checked by the liquid police. And if powdered formula is how you roll, don’t forget to buy your water once you pass the security gate as your bottles will get confiscated.
Also see: Survival guide for travelling with kids
• Choose your own adventure: Not all family vacations are created equal and keeping kids entertained while you and your significant other do a European museum tour falls under the Sisyphean category of tasks. TLC has compiled a four-pack of what they deem “relaxing” family vacations and while camping, amusement parks and road trips may not sound like they conform to that status, the trick is to plan smart. For a camping trip that means tiring your kids out with active pursuits, like hikes and swimming, so you can kick back and read a book later in the day. On the theme park front, choose an off-season time, if possible, so you can avoid crowds and long line-ups. On long drives across the country, create an itinerary that allows you to manage your own schedule wisely. If the kids don’t want to see the world’s biggest cheese wheel along the way, you can easily skip it and spend an extra day where they have access to a pool.
• Stay away from tourist traps: The Eiffel tower, the canals of Venice and Times Square are all places you should try to see once in your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it when you’re towing a couple of young kids around. Most kids won’t be able to fully appreciate them until they’re a bit older anyway. If your travels do take you past these places, however, Zen Habits recommends staying away from the touristy shops and restaurants that sprout around these sites like wallet-draining weeds. Instead, ask locals for alternatives slightly off the beaten path.
• Slow your roll: You may be able to tear through a city at a furious pace, but with small humans under your supervision, that pace will get significantly delayed. If sightseeing is your goal, Zen Habits suggests you spend more than a day or two in each place. You may cover less terrain, but you’ll be far more relaxed and will allow for ample opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery.
What are some of your best travel tips with children? Leave your wise counsel in the comments section below.