Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travelling with a Child....

The below article is published online:

Travelling with children can be a more tedious than housework, laundering, shopping and office backlog put together. Factoring a child’s needs into your travel itinerary can be far more challenging than sticking on that CD of nursery rhymes or making the frequent and unplanned toilet halts.
However, travelling as a family allows experiences to be shared and treasured. It can add significance to family time together away from the burdens of work and mundane routine. You can gain different perceptions on places when accompanied by kids.
If you plan aptly, the disaster times seem to dwindle, and the memoirs of the events together get reminisced. Here are some parent-tested tips to help prepare for a hassle-free and safe journey.

Be flexible with extra time
As long as you go with the flow, travelling with a child can really be a delightful experience. Small kids can get over-excited with too many new places and noises. Similarly, making your toddler sit immobile or tour for a longer period can make him fed up and irritable. Carry a sling or a carrier to strap your toddler to keep him out of trouble. Also, keeping the itinerary simple works wonders. While planning ensure that only one major activity is scheduled for a day to accommodate the last minute adjustments if your child gets exhausted or cranky.
Babies and especially toddlers love to wander around and explore hence don’t expect them to respect the time limits of your travel program. Therefore, you're more likely to retain your cool if you factor the ogling, delaying, toilet breaks and grumpiness into your travel plan. 

Pick a right destination 
A peaceful destination that’s friendly to young visitors should be favoured. A lazy seaside, family camping, Club Med or similar child-friendly places are good options. Jam-packed, over stimulating tourist charms or places without any shade should be strictly avoided. Scout for hotels that offer good discounts on the rates and some freebies like free breakfast without negotiating on the child-friendliness and safety aspect. It’s also not a bad idea to ask about the child-minding services or crèches or other child friendly facilities and activities.

Two things you just can’t miss before leaving on that long awaited trip is plenty of water and a bag of snacks. Flights can dehydrate most of the young travellers and small toddlers just can’t always hold on until the proper mealtimes. Raisins, breadsticks, small juice cartons, dry fruits, rice biscuits, small packets of dry cereal are some of the best bets. Don’t forget to stock on wet wipes for those messy clean-ups. The journey can also be made fascinating by dispensing snacks at pre-announced intervals, for example, once you board the aircraft or after you’ve covered a certain distance.
If you are travelling with a small baby or a toddler that is not fully toilet-trained, it’s prudent to stock on the diapers and the rash creams. Also carry a liquid bath soap to avoid messy handling and subsequent contamination. If you are travelling to chilly areas, carry loads of moisturising creams and a good sunscreen if you choose the beaches. It’s also not a bad idea to carry your own electric repellent or at least a cream to keep those mosquitoes and bugs away. Pack the clothing as per the climate at the destination; however, avoid carrying too many clothes by mix-matching and re-using some.

Plan recurrent rest stops 
“We spent too much time in planning our first holiday with our 2 year old son, Vivan. We decided to drive down to Goa from Mumbai. Everything was a fairy tale affair until my husband started to get twitchy at the repeated unplanned breaks we were taking to attend to Vivan and his tantrums. This led to frivolous arguments between us turning the entire journey into anguish.” Priya, a young mother from Mumbai, shares her experience.
Driving can often be fun for adults but seldom for small children. Hence, plan proper breaks in your voyage to give your child consistent chances to stretch and ramble around. A quick game of football with your little one or some simple jigsaw puzzles for some quite times can be good choices. Early start is extremely logical to give you enough time for that much desirable unwinding after a long day on the road. Had Priya and her husband considered these breaks beforehand, they wouldn’t be in those spiteful situations.

Safety first 
It’s always a good idea to carry your own childproofing kit to use at your destination. Make sure your baby is properly fastened in the car seat, if you are travelling by car. Invest in a pair of good quality removable window shades to keep your child protected from the sun. This may sound hilarious but it’s always advisable to dress up your child in some brightly coloured outfits so that he can be easily spotted at crowded places. Also, don’t forget to put a small chit with your details like phone numbers and address in one of his pockets in case you get detached. A number of packing and travelling checklists are easily available on the internet for more ideas.

Pack a goody bag 
Carrying a goody bag with toys, snacks and drinks is definitely one of the best means to keep your child calm and comfortable on a trip. Try and include their favourite play-mates, books and even some surprises. Wrapping them separately and presenting them to your child once a while will benefit in tackling those fidgety times. Jigsaw puzzles, soft toys, hand puppets, some coloured paper for drawing, non-toxic crayons and clay and picture books can prove extremely worthy for the toddlers; while babies can be kept motivated with some attractive new stuffs, baby-proof hand mirror, musical toys and rattles,  pop-up toys or teething rings. You need to start building on the collection a few weeks beforehand.

Whether they’re jetlagged, out of routine or eating less healthily, most kids seem to fall sick on holidays. Hence, it’s particularly important to carry your child’s medical history along. Also, make a quick doctor visit before the travel to ensure that your child is in good health and suitable for travel and the environmental changes. Carry the doctor’s prescription for all the important and common medications; even better if you carry the medicines. “Last year we were holidaying in some remote parts of North India when one of my Twins developed an upset tummy in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying the right medicine and we had a hard time dealing with the situation. That night taught me a significant lesson and now I just can’t think of leaving my home without the medication kit, even for smaller journeys.” Ashlesha, a mother of 3 years old Twins recalls.
Other basic constituents in the first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, bandages, sting treatment, and a thermometer. Don’t forget to pop a small bottle of hand-sanitizer in your handbag.

Preach and practice
Small children are flexible and shouldn't be too distressed by a provisional break in routine, but a little groundwork will help your child relish his trip. Showing pictures of your destination and chatting with them about what and who you’ll see as well as what you’ll do there can be really helpful. Whenever you talk to them, make sure you take an optimistic approach in conveying the enthusiasm and positive feelings about the impending trip. Your child will definitely take his cue from you and odds are your little one will approach the tour the same way.
And to conclude, as someone rightly said, stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey, it entirely depends on how you approach your trip. Apposite planning, little positive attitude and endurance will go a long way in making that much awaited trip thoroughly memorable!

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