Your family holiday should be an unforgettable experience, and not because the kids cry constantly or throw tantrums. Anjali Samanta tells you how to have a truly wonderful time while travelling with your baby
The idea of heading out on a holiday with the kids is to let everyone have a good time. Even though kids tend to get restless during long-distance travelling, there are strategies to ensure they enjoy the holiday. Here are a few of them.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT DESTINATION
Infants are comfortable with their own schedule. While they can adjust to a little variation, you can’t expect them to stay happy while you walk around for miles. So choose a location that doesn’t demand too much sightseeing. “We always look for a place that the kids can enjoy, like a laid-back beach resort,” says Ruchika Goswami, mother of five-year-old Saisha and three-year-old Sahana.
“We can go for a picnic, play fun games, splash in the pool and relax on the beach. We do visit places, but we try not to pack in too much and bore our kids.”
GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED IN THE PLANNING
You need to get your kids curious from the start. They can read brochures or even look the place up on the Internet, so they will get curious and know what to expect when they reach the destination. If they’re not old enough to read, you can tell them stories or show pictures of the place, to get them interested. “Before we took a trip to Neemrana in Rajasthan, I told my son all the stories associated with the place and he was intrigued!” says Sheena Singh, mother of four-year-old Nihal. “It kept him occupied throughout the trip.”
SELECT THE RIGHT HOTEL
Choose a kid-friendly hotel and let them know about your kid’s requirements, particularly when it comes to their needs or preferences with respect to food. “I was travelling with an 11-month-old baby and didn’t want to feed her pre-packaged food,” says Pooja Chaturvedi, mother of 14-month-old Anaisha. “So I spoke to the hotel staff beforehand, and they allowed me to use their kitchen to cook for Anaisha.” If you’re doing a day trip away from the hotel, carry packed food and snacks for the kids.
Ask your paediatrician to recommend an antiseptic ointment and medicines for fever, vomiting, an upset tummy, cough and cold. “Feed them hot food, avoid salads or cut fruits and ensure that the water is clean,” advises Dr Saroja Balan, neonatologist and paediatrician at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi. “Be careful while bathing infants. Ensure they don’t swallow the water or they might end up catching a tummy bug. Also, it’s best if the kids get their typhoid shots before they travel, so they can enjoy playing in the swimming pool at the hotel or resort. It’s also a good idea to check whether your kid needs a tetanus shot before the holiday.”
Let them carry their own baggage Save yourself the incessant ‘Are we there yet?’ chants, and let your kids carry their own backpack, filled with things that’ll keep them occupied. Pack in colouring books, stickers, favourite toys, storybooks, portable CD or DVD player, snacks and water/juice/milk bottle. “I downloaded tonnes of stuff for my son, Nihal, on my iPad, like colouring pages, episodes of his favourite TV shows, music and games, so that he could keep himself busy during long flights,” says Sheena. “I didn’t allow him to see any of it before we left home. I was paranoid about this eight-hour flight we had to catch, but we got through it without any problems!”
TRAVEL WITH OTHER FAMILIES
Travelling with friends who have kids in the same age group is a great idea. “Parents can share responsibilities and babysitting duties and manage to get in some couple time during the holiday too,” says Sujata Bose, mother of a four-year-old.
LET THEM TAKE PICTURES
This applies to slightly older kids. Give your kids a disposable camera and tell them to record all the moments they like with it. Plus, once the holiday is over, you can help them make a scrapbook with pictures and comments.
THIS HOLIDAY’S FOR YOU TOO
Make sure you include things in your itinerary that you know you and your partner will enjoy. “I always tell my children, we have done things you like to do and enjoyed them,” says Ruchika. “Now, you must do the one thing that we want to do. And they always understand. That way, they know the holiday is for everyone.”
Kids tend to go through jetlag after long flights and find it hard to adjust. Here’s how you can help them deal with it.
• While flying, ensure that your kids drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. If you’re travelling with a baby, make sure you drink a lot of water, otherwise it will affect your milk supply.
• The best cure for jetlag is sleep—and lots of it! So don’t plan any outdoor activities for the first two days. Let your kids sleep it off and when they wake up, let them eat light meals. This will help them slowly regain their energy.
• Stick to nap time and bedtime rituals for babies. They might wake up a few times at night
(for the first few nights), so you can play with them, till they gradually fall asleep. After a few more nights, keep the room darker, and try to soothe your baby back to sleep.