But here we'll help you make travelling with kids a breeze. After all, you and your children should enjoy every moment seeing the world and create a lifetime of memories along the way. Isn’t that the point of travel in the first place?
1. Take your time
The greatest thing you can take - whether at the airport, sightseeing or getting from A to B - is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don't care for the time pressures of travel, so you're more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the fifing, gawping, stalling, toilet stops and tantrums into your timeframe.
2. Book ahead
Whether you're camping or staying in hotels, it pays to book ahead. Trying to retain the spontaneity of travel BC (Before Children) doesn't pay off if you arrive at your destination to find you can't bag a bed or pitch and have to hit the road again with tired, hungry toddlers melting down in the backseat.
3. Be prepared for the climate
It's simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain will be happier in a new environment. With all the gear available, there's no excuse for dressing toddlers in ski-suits four sizes too big, forgetting their gloves, or leaving them barefoot on a beach where sea urchins lurk.
4. Don't forget the medicine
Whether they're out of routine, jet-lagged, or eating less healthily, kids always seem to get ill on holiday. Dampen the impact of broken nights, frayed temperaments and fevers by packing easy-to-swallow medicines. Other basic ingredients in your first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer.
5. Don't let the children pack their own rucksacks
A couple once went on a trip with their eight-year-old daughter, who complained incessantly that her backpack was too heavy. The reason why? She'd brought along her entire collection of fossils "just in case". Do let the children have input but remember to edit this heavily before departure.
6. Manage your expectations.
As any parent will tell you, it’s not a vacation if your kids are with you. It’s a trip where you still have to wipe someone else’s nose, enforce a nap schedule and keep your kid from sticking his finger in every electric socket. So if you picture yourself sipping a glass of rosé and reading a book while your little angel quietly builds a sand castle next to your chair, let go of that lovely image. None of that will happen. Well, except for the wine. A little day drinking goes a long way on any family “vacation.”
7. Keep the activities coming
If you're heading out on a long journey have a collection of toys to be handed out once an hour. Handheld puzzles, tiny colouring books, stickers, word searches and even tiny packs of Plasticine will pass the time on a long flight or car journey.
8. Avoid sweets
Resist the temptation to keep them going on a long journey by feeding them, sweets. Pack a mixture of savoury snacks like cheese cubes, breadsticks, fruit and bagels - anything to avoid arriving in a strange city with children in the middle of a sugar rush.
9. Consider Bringing Comfort Foods From Home
If your kid is addicted to specific foods, tuck a few core non-perishables into your luggage before a far-flung trip where they may be expensive, if available at all.
10. Use the babysitting service.
If you plan to go to a dinner without the kids. Call in advance to reserve. If you are staying at a large international family-friendly accommodation chain, they should be quite open about providing credentials such as how long the hotel nanny has worked on staff and what her experience is with kids. If you are staying at a private villa or smaller family-friendly accommodation, often you can request someone that you have already interacted with during the day (such as the cleaning lady) to stay on and act as a babysitter for a couple of extra hours. Ask for a photocopy of their ID so you have it on hand if you need it.
11. Choose a family-friendly hotel.
This may seem obvious, but there’s a big difference between a hotel with chicken fingers on the lunch menu and one that goes out of its way to cater to families.
Lots of hotels are family-friendly. Usually, that means that they have a pool, or that there’s no extra charge for kids sleeping in the same room with parents, or it might be that they give your child a stuffed animal at the registration desk. Those things help. Some also offer a free day camp for kids over 5, a stellar babysitting service (more on that later) and lots of space for running around. But the best perk is that kids under 5 eat for free. Yes, free.