By Emily Morrice (bio)
If this March Break has your family on the go, here are some tips to make that first trip smooth sailing. Whether you’re travelling abroad, going down south, staying local, or road tripping, kids always add a layer of complexity to any trip. Here’s what you need to know:
Our family has a particular affinity for far away destinations, and we put most of our savings into international travel each year. After visiting 10 countries with our three little ones over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two to make the trip more manageable.
First, opt for renting a home or apartment through HomeAway or Airbnb instead of staying in a hotel. Renting someone’s home will not only save you a lot of money, but with kids, it will allow for more space and comfort. You’ll have your own kitchen to cook up your toddler’s comfort food or warm your baby’s bottle and separate bedrooms for sound sleeping. Once baby is down, you can actually adult in peace instead of hiding in the bathroom or closet of your over-priced hotel room! Many rental homes also come with toys and books and even a yard if you’re lucky!
Next up, pack healthy snacks and practice healthy habits when travelling and adjusting to a new time zone. If you can leave on a red-eye flight, all the better – dress up your children in their cosiest pyjamas and put them to sleep as usual, even if they’re on your lap instead in their crib. Bring along healthy baby food purees and offer toddlers and kids water instead of juice. Planes dehydrate and disorientate all bodies, but especially small ones. Once you’re in the new time zone, continue hydrating the family and get active – nothing beats jet lag like a little exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and water.
If your family is escaping the last gasps of winter, lucky you! Your baby will love the freedom of being unencumbered by clothes and snow suits. Make sure that you use plenty of mineral sunscreen and always have a hat for your little one, even when it seems you’re in shade. Their skin is so much gentler than our own, and you want to protect it! Long-sleeved swimsuits are really common now and a great option as well. For days at the beach, pack lots of water and healthy snacks to keep them going, and when they’re finished a big day in the pool or bath, don’t skip their bath even if they’re tired – saltwater and chlorine can be harsh on their skin, especially if they’re not used to it.
If you’re planning a staycation at a local hotel or travelling within your province, don’t stress. The beauty of staying within the Canadian borders is that you’ll always have a familiar shopping option to pick up extra diapers, baby cereal, and any medicine should you need it. This is one of my favourite ways to travel with young children, because you gain the thrill of a new place with the security of your home currency, time zone, language, and foods. Each summer we travel three hours to a cottage by the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and most recently, all three of our kids fell ill during the four-day trip. We were constantly going back and forth from the pharmacy and grocery store to accommodate our sick kiddo’s needs, but still felt we had a fun adventure. This is the perfect first trip for new families!
Driving with kids is challenging, but perfectly doable if you have the courage! We live eight hours from my parents so our kids learned early on to handle the long trip to their grandparents’ house several times a year. Kids really rise to whatever bar you set for them! I strongly recommend no screens during long drives, or if you must, waiting until the latter leg of your journey. Once your child enjoys a show on the iPad, it will make the drive much more difficult after it’s taken away. Instead, try audio books or colouring. I buy big pads of blank paper and a new pack of markers for every drive, which my kids always look forward to. Pick up a few second hand books for the drive and don’t give them to your kids all at once. I usually keep most of the markers, books, and snacks up with me in the front seat, and only gradually hand back the bounty every hour or so.
Whatever you’re doing as a family, we hope it’s a special time of rest, adventure, and bonding together. If you’re still on the fence about travelling with your family, I strongly encourage it if it’s at all possible! There’s nothing like being in a new place where you know no one except the people you love most, and creating new memories along the way.
Emily is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of three little ones. When she’s not traveling the world with her family, Montreal is home, where you can find her exploring the local markets, making a mess in her kitchen, and brewing a cup of tea. Find her on Instagram (@emmorrice) and check out her lifestyle blog, Our Nest In The City, where she documents it all.