Friday, August 31, 2012

Traveling With Kids

We just got back from a long weekend holiday here in Vietnam. Last Monday, Vietnam celebrated their Independence Day and hubby decided we should get away for a couple of days to Hanoi's sister city, Ho Chi Minh.

We left Hanoi last Saturday and we had a great time. Even hubby who hasn't done the "touristy" stuff in Vietnam, (he's been here for 2.5years!) enjoyed seeing the sights in Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately though, the kids and hubby got some virus and now have the sniffles.

Traveling with kids, especially little ones is not easy. Let me share some tips I gathered from our own experience:

Before The Trip

You must create a packing list, to make sure you don't forget anything essential. Leave out stuff you can buy at your destination. Remember that traveling light is best when you have kids in tow.

Let me share a sample list for our weekend getaway (for babies and kids):
  • Coloring books
  • New toys and games
  • Rain coats and umbrella
  • Ziploc or small plastic bags
  • No-spill cups
  • Plates and spoons (silicone or plastic)
  • Swimsuit
  • Jackets and Sweater
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Insect repellant
  • First-Aid kit
  • Blankets and small pillows
  • Bathing supplies
  • Snacks
  • Sterilizer
  • Diaper bag with all the essentials
  • Collapsible stroller
  • Child carrier or sling
  • Clothes - bring at least one per day plus 2 extra shirts/tops

Prepare your kids. Let them know when and where you're going. Get them involved by letting them pack their own bags with some toys and snacks. Tell them what's gonna happen once you arrive at the airport until you board the plane and arrive at your destination. Including them keeps them from getting bored and from asking, "are we there yet?" all the time.

During The Trip

On Sightseeing

Be realistic on what you can actually cover each day. Keep in mind that kids need time to recharge, which means taking a rest at some point during the day. When I plan our itinerary, I only choose a few things to do each day. We either start early so we can go back to the hotel or apartment early, or start late, so the kids don't feel rush to do things early in the day. Another thing we do is we go out after breakfast, return mid-day and then go out again late afternoon. Take your cue from the kids - when they start getting cranky, it's a sure sign to stop the sightseeing and let your kids have a good rest. This is will make for an enjoyable and (almost) stress-free holiday!

On Shopping

Whenever we travel, we have a set budget for each person in the family. Having this will keep everyone from going overboard with shopping (including Mummy!). We even have a budget for how much we will spend for souvenirs. Since we go to several places for each trip, we opt to buy magnets and postcards, and some printed artwork to take home. These are easy to pack and are less expensive than most items in the souvenir shop.

If your kids want to buy a toy or shirt, remind them of how much they can spend and if they don't mind using up their entire "souvenir allowance" for a specific item, then let them get what they want. This will teach them about self-control and how to budget money.

On Accommodation

When choosing where to stay, think about everyone's comfort. Find out if the hotel or apartment has a family room. If not,  request for connecting rooms or ask for additional beds and if there are any extra charges. Do not assume that the hotel will arrange extra beds for you, you have to request for it, same with baby cots. We usually choose a serviced apartment with full kitchen. This is essential for those who have babies and toddlers, as you will be needing a proper sink to clean your children's things. Another extra is having a washer, so you don't need to send all your laundry to the laundromat or the hotel laundry service, which is expensive.

Once you arrive at the hotel, you might want to check the doors and windows, if they are secure. Check for loose cables and try to baby-proof your room by using tapes (to cover sockets) and pipe cleaners (to tie cables together).

Traveling with kids need not be a hassle. If you organize everything, things will turn out well and next thing you know, you'll be traveling like a pro.

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