Things to consider when traveling with a young child

Lexa Pennington's picture

Children bring many changes to your life. You have much less time for yourself, but you have the joy of teaching and learning from a young life. You may get less sleep, but you get to tuck in a tiny, growing person every night. You may not get to play Frisbee golf with your buddies, but you get to coach your child in Little League.

Many people think they must give up traveling when they have kids. It may be because it’s stressful traveling with children or because children may annoy other travelers. But if you have the heart of an adventurer, you don’t need to give up seeing the world. You just need to plan well, and learn to be flexible when exploring with your kids.

Here are some things you need to consider when traveling with a young child:

Things to consider when traveling with a young child

Your destination

If you’ve never traveled with children, you may neglect to check on whether or not children are welcome at your destination, and if the accommodations and entertainment for children are appropriate. You may find staying at a fully equipped cottage or residential hotel is worth the extra cost. You can save money on restaurant meals by preparing your own in your own kitchen, and you’ll have much more space so you are not on top of each other. A hotel with a laundry machine allows you to pack less, but don’t forget laundry detergent.

One important administrative detail regarding passports. If you will be traveling to a country that requires passports, make sure you apply for or update yours and your child’s well in advance. You may also need to provide proof of vaccinations, so contact your doctor for verification.

Even if your child is young, you can start preparing her for the new sights she will be seeing. Watch The Sound of Music if you’ll be in Salzburg or read a pop-up book about kings and queens if you’ll be visiting London. Teach her some foreign words, such as please and thank you. These activities will help your child engage in her new surroundings.

Things to consider when traveling with a young child

Getting there

Whether you travel by car, train, or airplane, getting to your destination with children doesn’t have to be difficult for you or your traveling companions. Your preparation starts with packing, and making sure you have everything you need to keep your child comfortable and entertained during long spells of sitting. One great item to invest in is a versatile diaper bag. If you’ve never tried a backpack diaper bag, you can read more about the different features available, including drawstring openings, lightweight and durable fabrics, and cushioned changing pads. If you know snacks, diapers, and your baby’s toys are close to hand, it will make the trip easier for you and your child.

For older children, your tablet may be your best friend. Download games your child can play alone or with you, and don’t forget about cartoons, music, and other videos. In case you run out of power (don’t forget power cords!), go old school and have books ready to be enjoyed. Be prepared with snacks for children who are not on their regular meal schedule, and pack your toddler’s favorite blanket someplace it can be easily reached. Your carry-on should have any needed medicines and a change of clothes for potential childhood mishaps.

Things to consider when traveling with a young child

After arrival

Upon your arrival, be sure to check your accommodation for hazards, and utilize a baby-proofing kit that you bring along. Unpack your suitcases and stow them away to create more space. Be prepared for a cranky child and an upside-down sleep schedule. Bring a nightlight to help your child with the adjustment to new surroundings.

Now that you are all settled into your new home-away-from-home, it’s time to explore. By now, you have hopefully investigated and found a super comfortable sling for carrying your baby while you are out and about. Remember that backpack and plenty of diapers and snacks. 

If your child is old enough, one of the best ways to engage him in sightseeing is by getting him a camera. There are child-friendly cameras that will allow him to create memories for the whole family. Ask your hotel concierge, or research on the Internet, about public parks that are near your attractions. You can plan a break where you have a picnic, let your child run around, or even take a nap. Some cities have playgroups for young kids in parks - find one and join in!

Things to consider when traveling with a young child

Just because you have children doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling. With good planning, you can still experience unique and exotic places all over the globe - and experience them in a different, happier, more interesting way than you'd expected. Start making your family travel plans today. Where will you go first?