Travelling with young kids is a bit like writing your will – you’ll have to do it at some point, but it’s existentially scary and you’d rather put it off as long as you can.
From hitchhiking the outback to popping down the street to the chemist, going anywhere with very young children poses its own set of challenges, but a fully fledged holiday can be testing even for the toughest.
Here’s a few things to help you go in with your eyes open.
It won’t really be a holiday
We don’t mean to be negative Nancys, but in this instance, ‘going on holiday’ means all the usual baby-related chores are transported to a different location.
Planes are a special kind of punishment
If you have ever so much as waggled an eyebrow at a crying baby, karma is coming for you. Everyone thinks they’re one of the good guys, but we see you there, rolling your eyes, sighing ever so slightly, and giving the person next to you ‘that look’.
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It’s not enough merely to disguise your horror – you have to disguise it well.
Car trips are barely better
‘Just go on a staycation in the car!’ they said, ‘It’s so much simpler!’ they said.
‘Yeah, kids love long car journeys!’ said no one ever.
Screens are sent from heaven
You know those parenting classes that told you to limit your kids’ screen time and try to connect with them face-to-face?
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Right, well forget all that, because on a long, stressful stint of travelling there is no greater joy than distracting your magpie-like children with a shiny tablet screen.
Don’t fight it. This is what Candy Crush was made for.
Kiss goodbye to travelling light
Baby gear must be small, right? Tell that to the check-in attendant when your bag is 4 kg over the limit.
You have to leave sooo much contingency time
Travelling with kids is slow.
Sometimes the reason is obvious: A toddler tantrum, a bout of travel sickness, a forgotten favourite toy. At other times even train journeys of preset length seem to stretch on for an eternity.
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You have to do loads of research into where you’re going
Does the Inca Trail have changing facilities? No?
You can leave your books at home
Reading ranks alongside sleeping, and relaxing, as activities you abandoned when you decided to travel with young ‘uns. You’re going to have to read your beach lit on the train each morning – not on an actual beach.
You have to talk to people
This one can go both ways. Many a family friend has been made bonding over the breakfast buffet, either out of parental solidarity or because your kid is just so damn’ cute.
On the other hand, when the twentieth consecutive well-wisher tells you your kid is adorable when they’ve been screaming for the last three hours, you might just snap and join in.