Late March, we went for a family trip to Melbourne together with my in-laws. That is a total of 7 Adults and 5 children (age 6, 4.5, 4, 2.5 and 1). It was a logistic nightmare, having to plan out the trip. Here are 5 tips to share with regards to planning a family trip with young children.
1) Country to visit
First decide which country to visit, sounds like a silly tip right? As silly as it may sound, travelling with young children is very different from travelling as a couple. You have to consider if the country is “child friendly”. By “Child Friendly” I mean things like; Are the places of interest easily accessible? Are the places stroller friendly? Does the cafes, restaurant or food joints have high chair for toddlers? Are hot water easily available in restaurants? Is there food that is suitable for the kids? Do they have diaper changing or nursing room in their malls? Are toilets easily available (for kids that are toilet trained)? What is the travelling time on the plane?
A lot of things we took for granted in Singapore may not be easily available in other countries. I have once express breast milk in a restaurant “VIP Dinning Area” (which has no doors) while overseas. So selecting the country to visit is really important.
2) Places to visit
Having decide the country, next of course is to decide where to have the fun. Seriously, this is the most difficult part as different people have different expectations.
The rule of thumb we use is to have one activity for kids and one activity for the adults in a day. If we are only able to cover 1 activity for that day, then the following day have got to be an activity for the other “age group”. We also try to plan the adult “activities” in the later part of the day so it coincides with the kids’ nap time.
3) Mode of transport
What should be the mode of transport over there be like? Public buses? MRT? If so, you will probably need to find out if the stations or buses are stroller friendly. And are the buses or trains crowded most of the time? Imagine having to look after the stroller and kids in a busy station or train, are you able to handle it?
If you intend to travel by taxi, then you probably got to find out what are the charges like. How many pax are allowed in the taxi at one time. Are there extra charges in using the boot space to put the stroller? My experience in Hong Kong was that usage of boot spaces may incur extra fee. So do take note.
Is renting of car an option? Which may be good as you can just dump everything in the car (Do note that your baby bag will be twice as heavy when you are overseas as you will be out almost the whole day). However, renting of car also has its issues. You have to check if parking is easily available. And if parking charges are reasonable. Petrol costs, toll charges and rental of GPS need to be considered too.
4) Places to Stay
Having decide on where you are going to visit and what kind of transport you will be taking, the place you are going to stay will become easier. Choose places that are close to your visit or near the transport you are going to take. This time Google Map will be your best friend.
The type of room should also be considered. If the kids are bunking in with you, you probably need a bigger bed or have the option to “add” a bed into the room. Two bedroom suites are also good for extended families so you cut down on having the need to call each other. But sharing of toilet at crunch time may be an issue.
Also opt for hotel or apartments that have free laundry services. We all know kids dirty their clothes easily. Having a washer or laundry service, can put your mind at ease.
5) Airline to Fly With
This is important for long flight. Points to consider include; Does the flight provides kids meal? The recent emirates we took does not have special kids meal and their adult meal are not entirely kids friendly. Do they provide toys and in-flight entertainment to keep the kids occupied? Much as I don’t want to let the kids watch too much TV, but I simply can’t avoid when I need to trap them in a seat for a good few hours. I think another important point to consider is the time of the flight. Opt for timing that is near the kids bed or nap time. So they can just sleep.
I wouldn’t really recommend budget airline unless the flight hour is short, like 1-2 hours. This is because, the space is really narrow and you will have a hard time carrying the kids or finding space for them to sleep. So if possible, choose an airline with full service.
Do you have any tips for planning an overseas trip with your kids? Share with us here.
This is the first part of the series where I share on our Melbourne trip. The upcoming posts will cover the airline we took (i.e. Emirates), the hotel we stayed and also the places we visit while there. Do be back to check it out!
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