18 Tips for Travelling with Kids from a Single Dad

By Andrew Bennet, Bepergian

Some of the most rewarding moments in my life have been when dragging my daughters around Asia, watching them take in the sights, smells, sounds and food. It gives them a lesson in culture, history and geography and helps them see life from a different perspective. These are lessons no school can teach.

Read below for my tips on travelling with kids, gained from years on the road as a single dad with two daughters…

  1. Planning a trip with children can be a little daunting, exciting and also one of the best bonding moments you will ever experience: get children of any age involved in the planning of the holiday and they’ll have a great time once there.
  2. I have come to realise that keeping it simple is the best method. And I always research my destinations.
  3. My kids are in their teens now and an iPod touch keeps them amused for hours or until the battery goes flat. When they were younger it was colouring books, toys and me reading stories to them. Yes, I pity the other passengers who had to endure one of my story times. These days it’s a bit easier with all the electronic gadgets to help keep children amused.
  4. A tip for the younger kids is to take a small selection of toys and only give them one. Once they get bored with that toy swap it for another, it will help keep them amused for longer.
  5. Airline food was never enjoyed by my girls and was always wasted. I found it better to fill up in the terminal and pack some non-messy snacks for the plane; it will save you a small fortune.
  6. With small children I found it’s better to take a change of clothes for them and you in case they spill their drink or worse, become ill.
  7. Always carry a plastic bag to carry any soiled clothing in or if anyone becomes ill.
  8. Carry a packet of the moist towels.
  9. Sit close to the toilet.
  10. Travel can be a big thing for smaller children and really gets them out of the normal comfort zone, so a favourite toy or blanket is great to help them relax more. Always hold a hand during take-off and landing and try and make the experience fun.
  11. Chewing gum is great to help during take-off and landing to help the ears pop or have a bit of fun pulling funny faces at each other till the ears pop.
  12. Single parents: some countries require you to carry a letter from the other parent giving permission for the child to travel; some even ask for divorce or separation papers. It’s a good idea to check with the relevant embassy before you travel so you can organise the necessary paper work and get it ready for the holiday.
  13. The first time my girls travelled overseas they were aged five and seven. And as a single parent I hated sending them to a public toilet without me. So every opportunity I came across a toilet that I could check to make sure it was safe and clean I would take advantage of the situation.
  14. Over the years of travel my girls have never worried where we stay as long as it has a pool. The pool is a great place to meet other people and for kids to make new friends. But if there are no pool fences and it really pays to keep an eye out on the children.
  15. Even picture perfect beaches with very small or no waves can have dangerous currents and most beaches are not patrolled by lifeguards.
  16. Always test the water first yourself or go in with them.
  17. Don’t leave home without travel insurance. Both my girls have spent time in foreign hospitals and if you’re not covered it can get very expensive. Always check with your family doctor if any vaccinations are required before travel. While you see the doctor, discuss travel sickness and what can be done to make travel more comfortable for everyone.
  18. The golden rule is, don’t over-plan. Try to mix days up a bit and do a little something for everyone but most of all relax and enjoy.

Author bio: G’day I’m Andrew Bennett from east coast Australia. I’m a part-time worker, a part-time traveller, part-time blogger and a full time single dad. I ramble on about my travels on Bepergian, my travel blog.

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Thanks to ilamont and cristeenq for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were held under the Creative Commons licence at the time of publication.

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