Traveling overseas with young kids can be rather overwhelming. However, nothing opens children’s minds like new experiences and adventures, which you can get plenty of through travel. Having just got back from an overseas holiday with our 3 little ones (aged 7, 4 and 1), here are some useful tips which helped us get through our overseas family trip unscathed (emotionally and physically, haha!).
Try and pack as light as possible (but include basic medication)
When you have 3 kids to look after in a foreign place, the last thing you want to do is worry about the handling, navigation and storage of luggage whether it be from the airport to the taxi or public transport to the hotel etc. For a family of five, we travelled with 2 big luggage, two portable strollers and a kid’s size hand carry (for their snacks) and these were manageable and could fit into an XL taxi. I like to use luggage organisers as it allows you to pack and organise your items more efficiently. If you find you’re missing something you need, you can always buy it at your destination. The less you bring, the easier it is to pack, the less you have to carry, and the more room you have for souvenirs! However, I always make sure I pack basic medication along such as for fever, diarrhoea, allergy and cold because a sick child or adult can be a huge damper to your travel plans and you might not be able to get access to a doctor right away in a foreign country.
Snack, snacks, snacks and toys, toys, toys
I can never emphasise this enough. Always have snacks and some small toys available for your kids! Hangry and bored kids are no fun to deal with so always have these on hand. You will definitely encounter many situations where it will involve lots of waiting – it could be a long wait to get a table at a restaurant, or unexpected traffic getting back to the hotel or a delayed flight, so I always make sure to have their favourite snacks with me and some small toys which they enjoy playing with so they can keep themselves entertained while waiting.
Overseas with young kids: strollers and baby carrier
Invest in a good travel stroller that is lightweight, easy to fold and is sturdy enough to push your child everywhere. I highly recommend bringing a stroller because one child is bound to get tired after awhile and will refuse to walk or budge an inch. Some countries might not be too stroller friendly but it will definitely still be more manageable compared to carrying a tired toddler all over town. The stroller also came in handy for my second child when she wanted to take a nap. If your child is still young and is happy to be in the baby carrier, even better! I did this with my youngest and it saved us the hassle of bringing out two strollers each time.
Stay in an accommodation with kitchen and laundry facilities
If we are on a trip for more than a week, we always try to book an accommodation which has a basic kitchen and laundry facilities (washing machine/dryer). Having an accommodation that comes with a kitchen is a godsent when you have young kids because we can cook a simple breakfast in the morning before heading out for the day or after a long day out and the kids are running on low batt, we can get take away and have it in apartment. It’s also great because we get to buy and try fresh local produce to cook simple dishes instead of having to eat out 24/7. Having a washing machine is also very useful as we get to do laundry during our stay (back to tip #1 – so we can travel light).
Take it slow! Be patient, flexible and calm
When travelling with kids, everything (and yes I really mean EVERYTHING!) will take longer than expected, so be sure to give extra time for every single activity. You may not be able to squeeze 3 museums, 2 parks, 2 restaurants, and a theme park all in the same day. It’s ok to slow down and do less. Keep your schedule loose and leave plenty of room for adjustment. A flexible schedule will be less stressful for everyone and it will lead to a happier trip overall. Kids can also get easily overwhelmed especially when they are exposed to so many new sights and sounds, or if their nap schedule is messed up, so if they do get cranky or throw a tantrum, just stay calm and give them reassurance that everything will be okay.
Include a child activity at least once a day
Remember, this trip isn’t just for you. This trip is for your kids too, and if there are things they are interested in, you should make an extra effort to include them in your plans. If you give them some choices of places to see or activities to do, they will often be happy to pick. They will also feel happy that they were included in the planning of the trip. This way, everyone in the family gets a little bit of what they enjoy and the experience you give the kids will be irreplaceable.
At the end of the day, after all that’s said and done, there will still be the occasional tantrums and meltdowns, but hey what’s parenthood without these occasions, right? Remember, travel is an adventure! So just sit back, enjoy the ride and go create lots of wonderful memories with the family!
Thinking of a holiday with young kids? If you would like to stick close to Malaysia, Singapore is completely doable as a test run!