As a follow up to my previous post on some tips on travelling with kids, this time I focus on some tips on how to deal with kids at the destination. These are some of the things we always try to do when travelling with our 3 little kids and it seems to work well for us
- Have a Home Base: The first time my wife and I travelled with our son (3 years old then), we planned out trip as if it were just the two of us. We travelled across the breadth of Switzerland, starting in St Moritz and ending in Geneva, spending one night in each location and sightseeing/travelling during the day. This was a terrible idea and we haven’t done it since. Now when we travel we usually stay a few days in one hotel and one location. We then do day trips or tours from here. This means the kids have a “home base” to come back to every night. It also provides some consistency during the trip.
- Plan for Down Days: While there is always the desire to plan as many activities as possible on every day of the holiday, plan to have some “down days”. Days when you don’t have any tour or activity planned and you can have a lazy breakfast, go to the park or just wander and recover.
- Find parks: Research your destination before you get there and find parks or play areas that might exist near your hotel. Some shopping centres have kids play areas too. This is a great activity to do during the down days, when the kids can just be kids and run around.
- Themed Restaurants: Try and find a couple of themed restaurants in every city you visit. These are great experiences and also allows you to have a unique dining restaurant. Some of the themed restaurants we have visited include Alices Teacup (New York), Charlie Brown Cafe (Hong Kong), Dragon Feast (Macau) etc.
- Kid Friendly Tours: Research the tours that you want to go on and find ones that are accommodating of kids. There are tour companies (like Paris Muse) that run kid themed tours, and their tour of Louvre was a highlight of our visit to Paris. Also look for tours that the kids will enjoy doing – like activity tours, themed tours etc. In our recent trip to Hong Kong we went to see Pink Dolphins, a food tour visiting various restaurants/cafes and a harbour boat cruise.
- Travel kids: Get the kids to keep a travel journal. This is a great way for them to spend a few minutes each morning to write about their highlights of the previous day. Our kids have started writing a journal from when they turn 5 and can write. There are travel diaries for little kids that you can buy from book stores that have questions and activities for each day and place to draw pictures etc. The older kids usually take a blank journal and write what they liked and enjoyed about each day. In our last trip, my 9 year old, who is obsessed with the “Diary of a Wimpy kid” series, wrote his journal titled “Diary of an Awesome Kid” with himself as the main character. It is a great memento of the trip and makes a great keepsake of the trip.
- Buffet Breakfast: Invest in a buffet breakfast for the family in whichever hotel you are staying in. Buffet breakfasts around the world have consistent foods like cereal, porridge, toast etc. Especially if you are travelling to exotic locations where the food is quite different, the breakfast buffet serves as comfort food. It is also handy to use the buffet to pack some snacks for the rest of the day – especially for little ones. In our last trip we would make a ham/cheese sandwich and take a boiled egg for the little one for a mid morning snack as we were out and about.
- Use Public Transport: Kids love buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc etc. Whereever possible use public transport, they will be entertained, and it will save you a lot of money than having to use a taxi/hire car everywhere.
The final tip is to always travel with baby wipes and a small towel – you just never know when you might need it. And anyone who has travelled with kids will tell you – you need it more than you realise 🙂