A CNN article in March discussed some of the challenges associated with traveling with young children and how to determine when your child is old enough to travel.
We were intrigued by the idea but it also made us think about the benefits of traveling with young children. Some families travel with their kids to give them a new experience. Even young children, around three or four years old, are traveling with their families to Brazil or China. Those kids are experiencing different cultures in a way that many of us never will.
We’re not sure exactly what the right age is for kids to really learn something from travel. If they’re too young they may not get much out of it. But what’s that age limit? On the one hand, they may pick up some appreciation for different cultures and foods. On the other, they may learn patience just from sitting still in a car or plane for several hours.
My daughter is three, and I’m not sure she’d learn a lot from international travel, but I think it would be fun and good for her to expose her to different cultures. It just depends on how she would handle it. On the other hand, a colleague says she wouldn’t take her sons to restaurants at three.
It really depends on the temperament of the child and the patience of the parents. You have to make the call yourself on what is the right age for your child.
It’s a great idea if you have the means and the time to do it, but we don’t think there’s a magic age when it all happens because it’s so subjective and depends so much on each child.
Another important factor the article mentions is that you can make travel easier by choosing to drive or to schedule flights at times that are best for your child. We know someone who would drive from Indiana to Disney World by leaving at 10:00 pm, when his kids were asleep, so they would sleep through most of the drive. Of course, he was wiped out by the time he got there, but it was much better than dealing with unhappy kids during the daylight hours.
What age did you (or would you) start traveling with your children? Leave a comment below or post something on our Facebook page.
Traveling with your children isn’t like running down to the grocery store with them. Just like you need your own passport and other travel documents, you need to have certain documents with you when you travel with your kids.
The Huffington Post has an extensive and helpful list they suggest you carry with you when traveling internationally with your family.
Obviously, a passport isn’t going to be a necessity on domestic trips, but HuffPo suggests you bring physical copies of the following: your child’s birth certificate, a signed permission slip if there’s a parent who isn’t traveling with you, vaccination certifications, travel insurance, emergency contacts, telephone numbers for healthcare facilities at your destination, emergency first aid instructions, a list of your child’s allergies, and your full itinerary with contact information.
The list makes a lot of sense, although it may be a little too thorough. Be aware that carrying all that paper documentation can be a security risk. (Think about what happens if that information were stolen.) But you can keep a lot of it on a cloud-based app, such as Evernote or Google Drive, which you can download to your phone or tablet as needed.
On the other hand, what if your phone charger is damaged or you end up in a remote site with no service? With Evernote, you can download documents to your phone’s app, and then lock it with a security code. Otherwise, you could end up with a huge phone bill if you need to access another country’s wireless network to access the information.
Be sure to do your research before you travel and know what you need. You may not need everything on this list for some of the places you’re visiting, so it’s better to determine it in advance.
Photo credit: Caribb (Flickr, Creative Commons)
- How to Get a Certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate (dumblittleman.com)
- Easy Family Travel Tips (formulamom.com)
- The next great place for your family adventure (alloverthemap.net)
How and what should you pack for older children? When packing for children, the rule “less is more” is always true. Don’t pack for every contingency, plan for the worst and pack for that.
Once your kids get to be 7 or 8, they should be responsible for packing and carrying their own bags. However be sure to inspect the packing process or do a check after they’re done. If you leave it up to them, you may end up with a suitcase full of Legos or stuffed animals, and the wrong types of clothes for the climate you’re visiting. Have a conversation with your child about what he or she thinks they need. It can be a fun way to teach them to plan ahead.
You can also leave the carrying of the suitcase up to your child while you’re traveling. Don’t go overboard. Make sure your 7-year-old gets some assistance putting her carry-on in the overhead bin, but make sure she takes responsibility for knowing where it is. Again, you want to make sure she’s taking care of business, but having her keep track of her bag will give her a sense of responsibility.
For the flight itself, you can pack light. Bring some healthy snacks and perhaps one toy or book. And if you have a tablet device — iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle Fire — load a few movies, games, and favorite music to keep them occupied.
At this age, kids love entertaining themselves with video games, so sneak in some learning while you’re at it. Load some educational games and books and puzzles to keep your kid’s mind sharp.
Don’t forget that wi-fi may get spotty from time to time or not be available on your flight, so make sure you’ve downloaded the electronic goodies, rather than relying on streaming services. This way, they can switch between activities during the trip.
What else do you recommend for kids? Any other tips or suggestions? Leave a comment or comment on our Facebook page.
Photo credit: Pixababy.com (Creative Commons)
Many new parents are often tempted to pack almost the entire bedroom when planning to travel with their kids. They want to make sure they’re prepared for every contingency, every situation.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Your kids just don’t need as much stuff as you think they do to survive a flight — you only need the key essentials. There’s often a tendency by new parents to overdo it, because they want to have everything and anything they need.Dragging an enormous diaper bag around the airport, in addition to everything else you have, is just going to exhaust you, and you’ll end up not using most of it anyway. Pack what they need: enough diapers, formula or snacks, one change of clothes, and a small blanket. Everything else you need can be checked in your regular baggage.
The other big concern when traveling with small children is keeping them entertained. The very little ones don’t need much at all, maybe a toy and a rattle. Your best hope is that they fall asleep on the flight, so try to arrange your schedule to make that happen.
Toddlers generally need more to keep them occupied, so a tablet can come in handy. If you don’t currently have an iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle Fire, we recommend getting one for traveling with children. You’ll get to enjoy it as well, so it’s a win-win situation.
Load your tablet with your children’s favorite movies, and some new ones, some games and puzzles, and a few of their favorite tunes. With this setup, you could keep your toddler occupied for the entire trip.
If your child has a favorite toy or blanket they’re emotionally attached to, you absolutely must bring it along. Otherwise, the pain of separation will be loud and heart wrenching to you, your child, and everyone seated nearby.
Warmer weather and longer days can only mean one thing: summertime is finally here!
While every family spends their summer days differently, one common thread is travel. Because the kids are out of school, the months of June and July are ripe for family vacations.
In order to get the most out of your next summer vacation, you need to thoroughly prepare beforehand so you know how to react no matter what life throws your way. To help you plan, here’s a short list of things to consider to make your next vacation go smoothly.
- Scan and move any important travel documents to the cloud, including passports, travel insurance, medical records and anything else that can be needed in emergency situations. Storing these documents in a Google Drive, for example, will provide safekeeping and easy access. You can also use Dropbox or Evernote. You can also share these documents with family members and friends.
- Pack a first aid kit. You never know when an injury may occur, so keep pain relievers, bandages, sunscreen, and any medications (inhalers, etc) in a water-resistant, cool environment. If traveling by car, keep a kit in the vehicle. If you’re hiking or enjoying the beach, keep the kit in a backpack or in another convenient place.
- Plan for the worst-case scenario. Make sure everyone knows what to do in case someone in your family is separated from the group. For young children, it is generally advised that they stay in the same place and wait for a parent to come back and find them. For older children and teens, choose a location to meet in case of any separation or threat.
- If traveling by car, be prepared for any mechanical failures. Bring jumper cables, a spare tire, tire iron, flashlight and safety flares in case your vehicle breaks down. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of water and a blanket in your vehicle in case you are stuck for long periods of time without help.
- For small children, bring snacks, toys or books to keep them entertained on long drives or flights.
We could go on and on and on with all the different tips and ideas for family summer travel, but experience is the best teacher. Enjoy your summer and travel safe!
You’ve had a long, busy trip and are planning to keep sleeping until you land in your home airport. You’ve just boarded your flight, have stowed your bags, buckled your seatbelt and have just begun to nod off when you’re jolted awake by a blood-curdling scream from two rows back. Ah yes, the infamous in-flight screaming baby.
Whether you’re a parent trying to calm down your child or a fellow passenger trying to tune out the noise, dealing with a screaming child in-flight can be a stressful experience. With this in mind, some airlines in Asia have begun offering “no-kid zones.” This past summer, the budget airline Scoot (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines) began offering a new seating zone on their airplanes – the appropriately named ScootinSilence.The ScootinSilence section, which is only open to passengers over the age of 12, is positioned directly behind business class and occupies four rows. The 41 seat section costs an additional $15 per ticket, but for those looking to spend their flight napping, the investment may be worth it. When asked about this decision in a recent interview with The Australian, Scoot’s CEO Campbell Wilson said, “No offence to our young guests or those travelling with them — you still have the rest of the aircraft.”
Scoot isn’t the first airline to put restrictions on their younger passengers. If you’re a parent looking to fly first class on Malaysia Airlines with your young ones, you’re out of luck. Recently, the airline opted to ban children under the age 12 from sitting in the first class upper deck of some of their flights. When asked about the decision, the Malaysia Airlines stated they made the move after receiving too many noise complaints from first class passengers. As an alternative, the airline offers a 350-seat “family friendly” economy zone on the lower deck with facilities to suit families. These include eight toilets and its own entrance, separate to the one used by first class passengers.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Do you think this is a good idea? Parents, would you prefer to be seated in a “kid friendly” section, or do you think this type of seating arrangement is unfair? Share with us in the comments section below or post your thoughts to our Facebook page.
- Kid-free flights? Airlines say no way (dailytelegraph.com.au)
Say farewell to the “Staycation” – for many travelers, budget-friendly tours of one’s own city have become a thing of the past. Not only has travel increased overall, but consumers are actually investing in luxury travel again, thanks to income levels returning to pre-recession levels.
Just how much is luxury travel increasing? According to an article in The (London) Guardian), the sales of luxury experiences grew 50% faster than the demand for physical goods. This change can be partially attributed to demographics – namely, the fact that the consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s are now beginning to retire. Instead of acquiring material goods, affluent Baby Boomers are more interested in investing in life experiences.Demographics aside, many travel experts have noticed an overall increase in consumer confidence, meaning that travelers feel comfortable investing in high ticket, once-in-a-lifetime trips. In a recent Travel Weekly article, Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck, a luxury travel operator in Connecticut, said “In the post-meltdown era, there’s been a resetting of priorities.”
In other words, consumers, particularly the affluent, are focusing more than ever before on making memories and spending time with friends and family.
According to the Travel Weekly article, this year’s luxury travel hotspots are all over the map, including exotic eastern locales such as Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Once overlooked Eastern European hidden gems such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also becoming quite popular, as are exotic once-in-a-lifetime experiential trips such as safari trips to Botswana.
Another surprising trend is a large increase in consumers booking trips on luxury cruise lines. When it comes to visiting exotic locales via the high seas, travelers are willing to overlook the cruise industry’s recent woes. In fact, many travelers are booking cruises that run upwards of one month. Such cruises visit multiple exotic destinations on all seven continents, making them an appealing option for those that want to get a bit of variety during their trip.
- Affluent Travelers on Deck to Spend More Vacationing in 2013, According to a New Survey of High-End Travelers by Unity Marketing (prweb.com)
- Luxe Travel Trail Blazes with the Rise of the Virtual Agency (prweb.com)
- A Patagonia Spectacular With Tauck (timespentatsea.blogspot.com)
- Luxury Cruise Vacations on The Crystal Symphony Cruise (expertscolumn.com)
If you’re like many business travelers in recent years, you may have found yourself visiting the same city for a conference every year without spending any time outside of the conference circuit. However, the blurring of lines between business and leisure travel is becoming more common, as business travelers are finding ways to optimize their travel time and experiences.
With the arrival of online travel companies more than a decade ago, and mobile technology enabling even wider access to great travel deals, it is becoming more common for business travelers to take an extra day on one end or the other of a business trip to see some tourist attractions, try a few local restaurants, or visit a museum.
If you can take advantage of a day or more of leisure time while on a business trip, why not try it? For example, you could invite your spouse or significant other to join you on your trip, since you may be more likely to try a new restaurant or activity if you’re with a companion. Combining a business trip with a vacation (even a short vacation) makes sense in a lot of ways.
From a travel standpoint, it may be better for you to kill two birds with one stone. Why book multiple flights and hotels when you can cut costs and simplify your travel experience by adding on some leisure time before or after a business trip? This makes sense from a financial standpoint too — it’s less expensive to take a vacation since your company will cover at least some of the cost of the trip, even if it’s just getting you out there and back home.
And while it’s true that modern day business travelers are adding leisure time on to business trips, the reverse is also true – people are more and more frequently fitting work time into vacations. Often, travelers are deciding to schedule an afternoon of networking meetings into a vacation. That way, depending on a company’s travel and expense policy, some part of the trip can be expensed (or if self-employed, deducted on their taxes), and employees can feel like they aren’t abandoning their jobs.
Although there is a movement in favor of “unplugging” during vacations, the benefits to combining leisure and business travel can’t be ignored. After all, if you’re spending time traveling for any reason, you may as well get the most value possible out of your — and your company’s — time and money.
We’ve talked about traveling with little kids before, and Fodor’s recently came out with an article about the best gadgets for kids on the go. These are great for keeping your little ones distracted on a long flight or car trip. Here are a few of our favorites:
These kid-friendly headphones serve a dual purpose: First, they’re customizable with special markers, stickers and paper inserts. Second, when they’re done decorating, they can listen to their tunes on the headphones they created — comfortably, and at a safe volume.
Kurio Kids Tablet
It’s kid-friendly, but it’s a real Android tablet with games, e-books, Internet capability and more! You can create eight different profiles for the whole family to use this gadget, and with parental controls on app downloads and more, you can let your kids of all ages surf independently and maintain your peace of mind.
Kids Cooler Backpack
Give your children a little independence with a backpack they can carry themselves, with compartments for everything they could need during your journey. The best part: The front pocket is insulated and protects snack foods from getting crushed among the other items you’ve packed.
4moms Breeze Playard
Many pack-and-plays for babies don’t live up to their name…the packing is simple enough, but when it’s time to play, you’ve got a real challenge on your hands. The Breeze is a portable crib with a removable bassinet, changing pad and travel case — all in one easy-to-open package.
Our Two Cents
On the practical end of things, one of the best gadgets you can get for your kids doesn’t involve keeping them entertained; it’s more about keeping them comfortable.
We can think of two special tools for keeping kids comfy and feeling great during your travels, especially if they’re new to long trips.
The first is EarPlanes, which are ear plugs that control pressure in your ears during takeoff and landing. They make special sizes just for kids! The second is Austin House’s Motion-Less wristband, which helps control motion sickness during long car rides, cruises or flights.
Traveling with kids can be tricky, and it requires a lot of extra preparation, but making memories with your family when your kids are still young can be well worth it.
If you’re a frequent family traveler, what toys, games, tools and tips do you have for folks who are new to traveling with young kids? Share them in the comments.