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Travelling with kids – a great adventure

by Mariella Camilleri, for kidsmalta.com
Tickets are booked, you reserved accommodation and instead of looking ahead you are filled with anticipation. Taking a holiday with your child for the first time can be daunting. For starters it’s a change in their routine especially if they are under the age of five, most mothers find themselves asking “Will I cope?” moreover we worry that our holiday will turn into a nightmare, where our children will misbehave, cry and bicker all throughout the holiday.
One may wonder if it is wise to take a holiday or to travel for other reasons with young children. After all we have heard other parents complain that a holiday is not the same with kids around. Before you cancel their plane tickets and pack the kids off to grandma read on. Planning is the key:
If you are travelling with babies, make sure that you are visiting a child friendly place where it will be easy to maneuver a pram, if this is not possible it is wise to pack a heart to heart sling, and place the baby close to your chest, this will make walking through crowds easy. Before you leave home make sure that you have a bag, containing nappies, wipes, an extra change of clothes and if you are bottle feeding, place the formula milk in the bottle and just add warm water on the plane, the stewardess will provide it so there is no need to take hot water with you, however pack a flask anyway you will need it if you are out sightseeing.
Whether you are breast feeding or bottle feeding, if your child is uncomfortable on the plane give the baby a feed, milk soothes them and many times they will fall asleep with the motion. Before you book the hotel find out if they offer tea/coffee facilities- tends to make life a little bit easier to have hot water in the room, for bottles and any other warm feeds.

Toddlers sometimes create a bigger challenge than little babies, they need to ran around and explore, so this is really a time when we are put to the test. At this stage, tantrums a very common but again planning will make life more manageable. If your child is still in nappies do not try to potty train him or her the week before your journey, it takes time for little children to gain proper control of the bladder. They might tell you that the need to go, but it might not be possible at the time, especially during takeoff and landing. If your child is potty trained pack a travel potty, and when your child needs to use it find a suitable stop.
Again you should always carry an extra change of clothes throughout your holiday, little kids tend to get messy, and a drink spilled onto their t-shirt will result in a lot of whining .Before you board the plane make sure to pack: milk or any soothing drink, something to nibble, a colouring book/colours, some of their favourite toys. If you are travelling for the first time, it is wise to take a short flight and that way you will know that soon you will arrive at your destination, and you are not confined in an aircraft for a very long time.
Children tend to adapt and next time you travel you could try travelling a little farther.  If you are worried about toddler’s irritability especially due to pressure in their ears it is wise to consult with your doctor who might prescribe some decongestant.
It might seem daunting to travel with young children, however be being organized you can simplify the task.  Always take a pushchair that way if your child is tired they can nap. If your child is asleep or about to,  do not check in the pushchair at the departure gate, keep it until you are boarding, flight attendants will store it on the aircraft and hand it to you when you disembark the plane. If at the time of the flight your child is usually cranky, and tired, do not put him or her to sleep right before the flight only to wake him or her up when you are boarding, there is nothing worse than a child who is over tired or cranky, so plan ahead, and try to time the nap for after boarding if possible. This will give you time to relax and enjoy the flight.
Once you arrive at your destination it’s good to let the child rest, if you have  had a restless night it is best not to plan a whole day outdoors, that way your child can nap and recover. Dining in the evening requires some thought. Will you feed the child prior to dinner? Will you be dining late? In that case it might be best to put the child to sleep in their buggy before settling down to eat, that way you can eat in tranquility. If you are sightseeing, try to set time aside for the child to run around and play.
Many European countries have beautiful parks and gardens where little children can unwind and play. Picnics too are great fun, eating sandwiches on the grass is almost a novelty to Maltese children. If you are travelling in summer, and the hotel has a pool, do not forget to pack armbands and nappies suitable for water.
Keep your eye on little children, department stores tend to be very large, and young children could easily get lost. Always try to keep little kids strapped in their buggy when you’re shopping, I know it could be difficult, but by giving them something to nibble you could keep them quiet for longer.

If your children are older, the world is your oyster. Skiing, cruises and sightseeing are all ideal holidays. Talk to your children before you travel, get them involved by asking them to look up information about the places you will be visiting. If you are travelling on business or to place where there is little for them to do, pack suitable games, a portable DVD is an ideal device to keep kids occupied. Amusement parks are ideal places, both Gardaland and Euro Disney are filled with adventures and fun rides for kids and adults alike.
Try and fit activities suitable for the whole family, children tend to behave better when they are entertained. Point out different cultures and lifestyles, train journeys tend to be very popular with children. Give older children responsibilities to pack their own stuff and always check that they have packed suitable clothes. Do not pack too many clothes, especially if you are visiting more than one destination, things can be tricky especially if children are not old enough to help carry a luggage, so pack light. The Maltese have a tendency to shop, so your luggage will definitely get heavier as the holiday progresses.
Last but not least have fun, and take plenty of pictures. A family holiday is a relief from the hum drum of everyday life. A vacation gives us the opportunity to spend time with the people we love the most. Do not take life too seriously, remember to laugh. Having a holiday with kids is a great adventure. Some of the most hilarious incidents of our life happen when we are on family holidays. If things do not go as planned move on, and try to make the best of it. Travelling with kids like everything else in life gets better with practice.
As time goes by and children get older you will learn from past experience what is suitable for your kids and what isn’t. Holidays can be tail made, try and find the ideal one, were your kids are entertained and you can relax.  Bear in mind that time flies when you are on holiday, so make the best of it, we forget the monotonous routine of everyday life but we rarely forget a holiday. Children love holidays, it will be etched in their memory forever so pack up and smile. Bon voyage.
Things to remember when packing:
  1. Children’s’ passports expire every two years, so always make sure that passports are up to date.
  2. Apply for a European Health Insurance card for all members of the family. This will entitle you to free medical care in European states.                    
  3.  Luggage does get lost. So always make sure you get insured before the trip.
  4. Bear in mind that certain European countries have a much colder climate than ours even in peak summer, so check the temperature and pack accordingly.
  5. Umbrellas and plastic rain covers should be packed away too. Yes it does rain in the middle of August in certain European countries, so be prepared.
  6. If you intend to travel often with young children, it is wise to invest in a light weight buggy. Bear in mind that cities like London have underground stations with escalators and hundreds of stairs, so you will be required to carry the child in your arms and the buggy in the other, especially if you are travelling alone.

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