Holidaying with Kids

Every now and then, life seems to just drag on, and we have nothing really fun to look forward to. Usually, this comes bang in the middle of a difficult month. Which means one may be tight on finances, or on leaves from the office, or may simply not be in a position to spend much on a true ‘vacation’.

Holidaying with Kids

As a family of two working parents, a distinctly hyperactive toddler and his fast growing elder sister, we have discovered the ideal solution to this monotony – short trips.

When we were growing up, we had relatives nearby, which provided the often needed ‘break’; which probably explains why we, as a country, were not very travel – savvy. But now, close relatives are either too far away, or are busy with lives of their own. Additionally, kids have become much choosier when it comes to leisure.

So here are a few tips that I’ve learnt with time, on how to make the best of that long weekend, or just a quick pick-me-up for the family.

  • Know in detail about popular destinations: This means a thorough read of the ‘visitable’ locations close to your city. From Delhi, we have exotic locations like Jaipur, Udaipur, Bharatpur, Corbet, Nainital etc. While some may argue that the very point of going to destinations is to escape the crowd, yet these places are crowded, let me assure you there are pockets of lean periods that you can tap.
  • Keep a lookout for unexplored / new locations around the city you live: This means regular internet surfing of travel sites. Let me give you an example. Everyone’s heard of Nainital, which is a cramped hill station. However, relatively fewer people know about a quaint hill station called Ramgarh, which is higher in altitude from Nainital, and only a few kilometers away from all the action. Similarly, the difference between Shimla and Mashobra is just a few kilometers, but the serenity quotient is much higher.
  • Have a combination of travel means. Too many parents prefer to fly their kids to a destination. But talk to them about the train journeys they took in their childhood, and their eyes mist up in the memory. Why don’t we use the train more often? While it may require a little bit more planning, it is worth the effort. We try to incorporate a fair amount of novelty in the ‘getting there’ bit as well; so the holiday starts from the moment we lock the front door!
  • Children learn a lot in these little outings. From locating the most picturesque spot, to learning to write a travel journal, to innovating new uses of wet wipes and toilet paper, this is the time to nudge little life skills into their minds. We started out with little scrap books where the kids would stick leaves, flowers and photographs.
  • Start talking about the trip much in advance. This ensures participation in decision-making, which kids love, and you will surprised at some of the bright ideas they may come up with! Encourage them to read up trivia about the location, and maybe even decide the course of events at the location.
  • If going to a place where they can step into the swimming pool, ensure the swim wear and goggles, cap etc. are in place (it costs a bomb to buy it at the destination; and renting it out is not really hygienic).
  • If luggage has the scope, do carry the favorite ball, or some other toy. Cramped spaces in the city really do not do justice to outdoor games – this might be the right time. Inflatable plastic / rubber balls are the best.
  • Make a list: My husband will look accusingly at me if he read this. He is the list – maker, and I always scoff at it. But the truth is that the list is a true life saver. The list is usually under the fridge magnet, and every time he or I remember some detail, we add it to the list. So that when we are finally packing / leaving, nothing gets left out. Even simple things like forgetting camera batteries can cause humongous fights in the middle of the trip (trust me – G and I have fought over it!!)
  • Ensure you eat light the night before – especially the kids. You don’t want them feeling queasy the whole way to the hills!
  • Finally, a list of very forgettable life savers, that G puts right at the top of his list
    • Camera and batteries 🙂
    • The kids medication – an analgesic, a nasal drop, a syrup for cough and cold, a syrup for tummy ache or indigestion, a syrup for nausea (and the number of the family doctor).
    • Other first aid : Band-Aid, Dettol, Digene, Crocin tablets, Volini Spray (a blessing for sprained ankles, or a backache)
    • Wet wipes (a large one if you are traveling with kids!)
    • A few neatly folded disposable bags
    • Phone chargers
    • Maps, brochures, numbers of the place going to
    • Bibs (yes, even for toddlers and young kids. Eating while travelling can be quite messy. And bibs will allow you to travel much lighter, as fewer changes due to spillage)
    • A hand towel / napkin for each child (same logic as above)
    • Day-wise clothing (yes, we actually count – especially little pieces like socks!)
    • Tickets, reservations, confirmation vouchers etc.
    • Photo I cards (an essential these days for any hotel checkin)
    • Activity books, comics, crayons etc. (We pack little backpacks, one for each child, which has their stuff in it. We add a dash of suspense by putting in little snacks they like, along with their bib and towel. They carry it, and are quite responsible with the things inside it. When travelling together, they need to be kept out of each other’s throats, and out of our hair 🙂 )

Travelling without kids was definitely less cumbersome. But the fun is much more when the kids enjoy not just the vacation, but every moment that is spent talking before, and after the trip is taken.

Meena Bhatnagar is a mother of two, with a passion for the written word. She dabbles with fiction, a couple of them finding their way into published work, is an avid blogger, and works as a corporate trainer to pay for all the damages. She blogs on parenting, social issues and humorous incidents of her life and on hotel & restaurant reviews and corporate training.

  • Hi Meena: Very good and useful post, as somebody who have been taking kids on travel since they were 5 months old I can totally relate to the same. One thing we do is even in the best of hotels we take kids towels from home and not use hotel towels for them ( I don’t have a logic for this 🙂

    • Travelling with 3 kids has definitely been a challenge.
      The individual back pack idea is something I’ve been using all along.
      I also pack their clothings for a day in individual packets and then pack them into bags. I ask them to select what they will wear each day including accessories (I have three GIRLS) before packing. Nobody pulling a long face about what they’re wearing and no digging around in the bag for the sneaky socks. Older kids manage the dressing by themselves and are also in charge of putting the clothes they changed out of into that bag. The luggage somehow doesn’t grow making the repacking hassle free.

      • hmmm…. separate packs for each day… a daunting task, but one that makes travel easier….. must try it out! Thanks Shadia!

    • @Desi Traveler – If it is any consolation, I even pack bed-sheets on my trips, no matter where I’m staying. My hubby thinks I’m nuts and so do my kids 😉

    • hahaha! Desi traveller …….. when did parenting and logic feature in the same sentence?? But I do understand the whims of a concientious parent – been there, done that!!

  • chattywren

    Thanks, those are nice tips. Will try out the individual back-pack idea.

    • Chattywren, it works like a charm with young kids!!

  • Thanks for the ready-made foolproof list Meena.. I have few packing lists permanently stuck to a cabinet door in our house.. Always a life a saver!!

    • This is entirely G’s department, and I have happily given up making ‘the list’ … 🙂

  • Roshni

    I am so much in sync with you, Meena!! We love traveling and we hope to instil the travel bug in our kids too!! And, we have a master list of what to not forget too!! :))

  • Don’t know how it happened, but both my comments have gone as replies to @Desi Traveler’s comment B)

  • Wonderful pointers, Meena and agree with all of them completely! And I so like the lists… can’t function without listing down everything!! 😀

    • Yeah…. I have realized the functionality of lists only after disastrous missing items in my packing 🙂 …. thank you so much!

  • Very useful post ….I would love to refer to it everytime I travel. And yes, even I do carry my bed-sheets & towels for kids 🙂

    • Nbose…. I saw this only now. Thank you so much!