The blackness of the night was just receding to be replaced by the whiteness of day. The eastern horizon was adorned by a golden glow announcing the impending rise of the sun. Silence ruled the waves. We sat silently in a boat marvelling at the beauty of nature. No one stirred; the only sound was of the oars sloshing the river water as the boatman rowed the boat towards a small island – an island, where we hoped to view the flight of thousands of migratory birds. The boat stopped, and we all waited with bated breath, now the only sound was the breathing of the people on the boat.
“Baaah, Baah, Baah” – The ethereal silence of the heavenly morning was broken by the shrill and loud cries of my 2-year-old nephew. Travelling with children can be an altogether different experience. They are tiny treasures, who despite being demanding fill your lives with love.
Travelling with my nephew was my earliest memory of going with children if you do not count the times I had travelled with my parents when I was a child. But this incident remains etched in my mind as a defining moment. As I started travelling more and more and then travelling with my child, I realised that when you travel with children, you need some to follow some rules and tips to ensure that the travel is a memorable experience for your family and a hassle free one for your co-travelers.
Here are four tips to travel with children of different ages.
- Travelling with infants:
Everything changes with the advent of a baby and travel is no exception. Unlike your backpacking tours, trips taken with babies will need clean bathrooms, high-quality hotels, safe restaurants, etc. If you are planning to take your infant along, it is advisable not to plan for long trips and to stay closer to home. Travelling to places that are far might change the sleeping pattern for both you and your baby, which can be difficult as infants would require almost full-time attention and also would be susceptible to change in sleep cycles.
Furthermore, don’t opt for jungle or wildlife holidays at this stage as infants may be prone to infections that can be transmitted from such public spaces. Also, if you do need to travel with an infant make sure that you pack the essentials like his or her health records, prescription medicines, baby food, clean clothes, and lots of diapers. Also, have all the medical emergency numbers handy. Ensure the infant has dressed appropriately for the weather, there is nothing like bundling the poor infant in swathes of clothing when the weather is warm.
- Travelling with toddlers:
Now that the innocent infant has transformed to an energetic toddler, travel experience with them takes a different avatar. The challenges are more pronounced now, so you need to be more cautious. Toddlers are playful and restless. Especially, if you are travelling with the kids who are eternally hyperactive, be prepared.
Ensure that you keep the toddler interested and happy during your travels by carrying his favourite toys and also adding a few new ones for a surprise so that they will not feel bored. Also, carry a first-aid kit that contains basic medicines, band-aids, Dettol, etc.
- Travelling with school-going kids
This is the right time to take your children along when you travel. Firstly, this is the time where they can learn a lot of things from travelling across the world. As kids these days are well informed and clever, make sure to discuss the itinerary with the kids before you embark on the trip.
Also, frame the itinerary to suit their interests. For instance, if you are planning to go shopping, find a museum or zoo safari nearby for your kids to enjoy during that time. Another important thing that you must do is to talk and interact with them throughout the trip.
As they are in the learning phase, they are bound to ask a lot of questions. When you are visiting new places, make sure that they are aware of the significance of the place, its history and culture. The thoughts that you sow in the child’s mind today would be reaped as an abundant harvest by them in the years to come.
- Travelling with teenagers
Your child is all grown up now and on the threshold of manhood or womanhood. This is a vulnerable time for both children and parents. This is the time when a strange and invisible barrier seems to have formed, limiting communication. You suddenly start seeing a yawning generation gap.
Use travelling together as a great tool for bonding with your teenager. There is nothing like time spent together in the confines of a plane or car to bond together. Watch the communication gaps dissolve, and the generation gap reduces as you talk man to man or woman to woman with your teenager.
Even before you plan the holiday, make sure you involve the teenager in the planning of the destination and the itinerary. Treat them as equals and take their inputs, discuss the agenda with them in all transparency and then finalise the plan. This way they not only learn to plan but also feel a sense of ownership, making the entire travel experience one of exploring new horizons together with some excellent family bonding.
To sum up, travel is a transformative experience, and when you are travelling with children, it is an altogether different experience. Also, while travelling with children ensure that you have everything planned: flights booked, hotels booked, itineraries finalised. You are then all set to embark on another voyage of discovery with your favourite people – your children.