Going on a trip with kids requires some additional preparation in order to make it enjoyable and fun. I remember before we had kids packing for a weekend trip would last no longer than fifteen minutes, but now packing for a family trip requires some more preparation and presents a bigger challenge (almost never shorter than 1 hour).
Whether you are planning a family weekend trip to a destination reachable within a 3 hour car drive or a month long adventure in an exotic place, preparation for all of the trips will have to include following:
1) Check the PASSPORTS’ expiration dates at least two weeks before your flight or a car journey abroad. You do not want to reach the security control and realize only then that you are not allowed to travel further because one of the passports is expired. Also, take in account, when traveling to countries where you obtain visa upon arrival (e.g. Mexico, Peru), that your passports usually needs to be valid for 6 months after arrival date. Always have your passports with you when travelling abroad- e.g. border controls in Europe are getting stricter so even though you will be travelling within EU there will be still places with strict passport control (e.g. entering France, Croatia, etc.)
2) Never leave home hungry! Hunger leads to feeling hangry – which you definitely want to avoid before starting any journey. Even if you do not feel hungry eat some small breakfast/brunch/lunch 30 minutes before leaving home – it will make your journey much more fun:)
3) Pack some food and water for the journey with a car and/or plane. You definitely want to avoid that your kids get hungry and you are in the middle of nowhere;) Therefore, we as a family always have a kilo of bananas with us, which makes us a happy “monkey family”;)
4) Have a cosmetic bag devoted for your family journeys – since we travel quite often we have one cosmetic bag which is always filled with : toothbrushes, kid toothpaste, our toothpaste (both in smaller packages to fit airport requirements for hand luggage), a small shampoo, nail scissors and a hair brush. It makes packing faster and much more enjoyable;)
5) Wherever, whenever always have some paracetamol with you. Especially the one for small kids. You don’t want to risk that your kid gets high fever in the middle of the night, when you are miles away from an open pharmacy.
6) Diapers, diapers and some more diapers! Especially when you are travelling with a baby under 5 months old have some extra diapers with you. In Europe, so far, I have never encountered a gas station or an airport duty shop selling diapers, so pack enough of them. Put always at least 5 more than you think you might need – you might get stuck in a traffic jam and drastically prolongue your journey, or your flight might be delayed for 6 hours. And since the pooping pattern of your sweet baby is unpredictable, it’s better to be well prepared.
7) Never ever underestimate the pooping powers of your baby! In general there are 3 types of poo your baby makes – one which can wait 15 min or more for a diaper change, the bigger one that can wait no longer than 3 minutes and the impressive one which usually can’t wait more than a minute. And the impressive one will usually happen when you expect (and want) it the least: during a flight turbulence or the landing. That is the reason why you always need to have packed somewhere close to you some clothes to change yourself and your dear baby:)
8) Check the weather forecast for your trip destination a day before – so you can pack better and avoid unpleasant surprises;)
9) Take baby carriers and/or a stroller depending on your destination. In our experience baby carriers are a must in big cities with underground transport, unless the latter is stroller friendly. The metro in London or Barcelona has too many underground stations withouts elevators.
10) Pack some fun materials for your kids that will amuse them in case it is raining outside or you are standing in a long traffic jam and they can’t observe well the nature around them. Since we are against screen time for our kids, we don’t have tablets in our car. In line with the Montessori philosophy, we prefer that they observe the world around themselves (sometimes thanks to Natalia we see something we would not notice otherwise), enjoy the nature, our company, and learn to deal with boredom. In order to be prepared for long traffic jams – which are inevitable on the long run – we have always something special prepared. For Natalia: one size larger pair of socks (she is already an expert in taking them on and off), additional shoes (she enjoys it and puts quite an effort in taking them on and off), a magnetic board for drawing (which has an attached “pencil”, so it cannot get lost in the car) and two of her favorite books. For Miro till one month ago we didn’t have anything special, but now we take a ball with a rattle inside it, so it makes sounds when he shakes it, and a quiet baby book.