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Top Seven Tips for When You Travel with Kids

Leave the stress behind on your next family adventure thanks to these top tips.

From pre-booking and packing, to exploring your destination, these practical tips can help make travelling with kids a breeze.

1. Pack the Essentials – Not the Whole House

When travelling with kids, it can be tempting to pack everything that you might need, but this can weigh you down and make getting around a nightmare – especially for solo parents and carers if you are moving between cities or hotels throughout your trip. 
Be selective with what you pack. For example, if your accommodation has laundry facilities then you can get away with packing fewer clothes, or if you aren’t going off the beaten path, then you will most likely be able to pick up nappies during your trip. 
However, there are a few essentials and travel gear that are well worth packing:
Kid’s medical kits and first aid kits such as pain medication, thermometer, motion sickness tablets, creams for allergic reactions, band-aids and insect repellent for avoiding mosquito bites. If travelling overseas and unsure whether your child needs vaccinations, check with your doctor 
Empty duffel bag – you never know what you’ll end up buying… or carrying along the way 
Versatile layers of clothing 
A small selection of their favourite toys – and some new ones to bust out when needed
Snacks – the food at your destination may be different to what your kids are used to so it’s worth having some snacks at hand. If travelling within Australia, a great idea is to order your groceries or supplies through Click and Collect at the local supermarket near where you are staying. That way you can pre-order everything you need and have it waiting for you! 
If your little ones are old enough, getting them involved in packing their own bag can be a great way of getting them excited for the family holiday – however, be sure to check what ‘essentials’ have been packed before you depart, so that you can make any necessary edits.

Traveller tips: "When travelling with babies, a baby carrier can make a parent’s life so much easier. Whether you’re at the airport, out and about sightseeing or need to be ‘hands-free’ while keeping your baby safe and secure, your baby and you will love the chance to snuggle up together when you’re on the go. Carrying a baby or toddler in a carrier keeps your hands free to carry bags, hold maps and take photos of your travels too.” – Love From Mim 

Thinking about bringing bulky baby gear? If enjoying family road trips, then packing your stroller, crib, and car seat is a great idea. However, if you are enjoying an interstate holiday or overseas trip and planning on flying then you may be tempted to simply rent equipment at your destination - it really comes down to personal preference. However, it’s worth remembering that most airlines will charge for checked car seats, cribs and strollers. 
Our handy family travel packing checklist will help ensure you’ve packed everything!
Family at the airport

2. Preparation is Key When Flying with Kids & Toddlers

Don’t let flying with kids feel like a daunting task. With a little preparation, your flight can run a lot smoother than you imagine. To help prepare for your air travel there are a few things you can do:
  • Request a child meal when booking flights
  • Consider a night flight – matching your kid’s natural sleep pattern to the fight time will mean that they are more likely to sleep during the flight. Or if you are flying between time zones then try to get your kids sleep cycle in line with time zone at the destination to help avoid jet lag
  • If your child is the right age, try reserving an infant bassinet for your flight
  • Get your child to sip or chew during take-off and landing to help reduce the pressure in their ears
  • Try to keep them busy in the air – whether it’s in-flight entertainment or a new toy, activity sheets or book, the busying they are, the less likely they will get bored and frustrated
  • When the seatbelt sign is off, try to take your toddler for a walk down the aisle or to the bathroom to help stretch their legs – and yours. 
  • Pack all the essentials in your carry-on bag – from medicine, baby wipes, nappies, snacks, their comforters, water / milk bottles and entertainment, make sure all the essentials are within easy reach. 

3. Get Your Child Excited About the Holiday

Family travel is a great experience – and while they may be stressful at times, they’re a great way of introducing your child to different cultures, climates and experiences.
As well as getting your kid to help pack their holiday bag, there are a few other things you can do to get your child excited for the family holiday. Think about buying them an inexpensive camera such as a disposable (a waterproof camera is even better if you are planning to go snorkelling or scuba diving) for them to document their trip. They can take photos of things they see and will feel grown up with their own device. 

Traveller tips: “When we go travelling with our girls, we like to make it into an adventure and get them involved. We show them where we're going on a map, what we're going to do when we get there and let them help pick what toys and clothes to take. This gets them excited about the trip and a bit more patient if they know what’s going on and feel a part of the planning. If we're going on a plane, they also get a new colouring book each as they love to draw.” – Work at Home Mums

If your kids are old enough, getting them to journal their holiday can be a great idea. Simply buy them a notepad and some pencils and during downtime, they can document what they saw and did that day, maybe even alongside some illustrations. You’ll love revisiting the memories once you are home.
Whether you are off on an outback family-friendly holiday to Darwin, a family city escape to Adelaide, or a winter holiday at some of Australia’s top winter family holiday destinations introducing your kids to the holiday and your travel plans ahead of time is a great idea. This is especially important for first-time travellers as when there are too many new things going on, kids can sometimes get uncomfortable. Showing them pictures in destination guides and chatting them through what the holiday entails including what they can expect at the airport, on the plane, and once they arrive at your destination such as theme parks you will visit, sights you’ll see and food you might get to eat, will get them familiar with the process. 

4. Take It Slow & Leave Plenty of Time

Whether you are at the airport, travelling between destinations or enjoying the sights it’s worthwhile remembering that kids run on a slower schedule. So always try to allow as much time as possible for everything. For example, rather than arriving at the airport right before your flight, plan to get there a few hours early so that there is a buffer of time for faffing.
The amount of downtime your family needs really depends on your kid’s ages. Babies and toddlers will need daily naps, whereas teens may be able to power through a full day exploring – but most likely only a for a few days before they get burnt out. Adults can get warn out too and enjoying a midday siesta will be a welcomed break come the afternoon. Scheduling everyday downtime will help keep your family refreshed and ready for the next adventure! 
mother and daughters on a theme park ride

5. Pre-Book as Much as You Can

Most people book their flights and accommodation ahead of time, but pre-booking your family vacation doesn’t need to end there. Anything you can book ahead of time means that there is one less thing to worry about when travelling with children.
Other items you can book ahead of time include:
  • Private and public transport (including airport transfers)
  • Sightseeing tours
  • Private guides
  • Tickets for attractions such as museums and theme parks
Booking your transport and attractions ahead of time means you’ll spend less time on holiday planning and more time enjoying the sights. A lot of hotels can also organise transport and attractions for you, so it’s well worth asking when you book. 

6. Ask for Child/Concession Discounts

Asking for child discounts can sometimes feel awkward but can really save you a lot of money when travelling with children. In fact, you’ll be shocked at how many places offer discounts for toddlers and babies, such as:
  • Public transport
  • Private guides
  • Tours
  • Attraction entrance fees such as National Parks
  • Restaurants (some have ‘Kids Eat Free’ promotions)

7. Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodation

Choosing the perfect family accommodation when travelling Australia with kids, can feel overwhelming – you want to make sure it has enough facilities to keep the kids entertained, while still being a place you can relax and unwind. To help make your hotel selection process a little easier, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
  • Stay more than one night – hotels tend to offer better rates the longer you stay
  • Check for family deals – find out whether there are any kids discounts such as discounted rate, free meals for kids etc. 
  • Check for a pool and Kids Club – hotels pools are a great way to keep the kids entertained all holiday, and a Kids Club is great for the older kids
  • Make sure the hotel has a lift – carrying all your luggage including stroller and car seats up flights of stairs every day is far from ideal
  • Enrol in a loyalty program - Many hotel chains such as Accor offer loyalty programs with incentives like welcome drinks  and early check-in. 
  • Dining options – eating in the hotel is a great option when you’ve had a busy day out exploring. It’s worth checking if your hotel has dining facilities and whether they offer a kids’ menu
  • TV Channels - family-oriented cable stations, like Disney & Nickelodeon, are great during holiday downtime 
  • Bathtub – if you’re kids aren’t yet old enough to shower, then a bathtub is essential
  • Laundry facilities – hotel or in-room laundry facilities mean you won’t need to pack your child’s whole wardrobe. Check whether they supply laundry powder or whether you’ll need to pack a small amount or buy on arrival. 
Traveller tips: “…if you're going to be in a hotel and the budget can stretch to it, then get a room with separate bedrooms, so you can get the kids into bed and relax in another room at the end of the day without fear of waking them up, because travelling with kids is exhausting.” – Work at Home Mums

To help make your hotel selection process easier, take a look at some of Accor’s most family-friendly hotels around Australia, or simply browse through our complete range of hotels in Australia

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