I believe travelling is like any skill. You get better with practice. Our family travelling mistakes have been many however, each time I learn a better way of adapting to being a family that travels. I hope that by sharing our mistakes it will help you avoid making them too. Of course you can’t plan for everything and the travelling experience is full of unknowns and uncontrollable elements, however being in control of what you and your family do is for the most part possible.
Here are our top 4 family travelling mistakes and how to avoid them.
Too many connecting flights
On our first big trip we were heading from Australia to Italy. This meant we had three flights totalling 31 hours in transit with 2 lengthy stopovers in Singapore and Rome. This was a mistake! Why we didn’t stop in Rome for a few days and then catch our local flight down to the South of Italy is beyond me. Our children were 5 and 2 at the time, and physically and mentally it did put a lot of strain on us all. The same can be applied even for the time of flight. Try and pick a flight time that suits your family best.
Advice – Try to get short stopovers where possible or break up your flights with smaller children by allowing all of you time to recover and catch up before heading off again.
Taking too much carry on luggage
When travelling with children it is so hard to work out what you are going to need onboard. However, truth be told the more we have flown, the more I am convinced that children do not require as much as we think. Overloading carry-ons and taking too much means that you are managing too many bags as well as your children resulting in exhaustion and frustration.
Advice – limit your carry on to one small bag each (if your children are over 4) if you are taking toddlers or babies, then taking their essential items for them)
Put your family first
So often you can get caught up in the fact that you are travelling and have an itinerary etc and forget that at times, it may not work out the way you planned. Our children got sick whilst we were in Nice France, and our itinerary was pretty busy. Having experienced a situation last time on holidays where we tried to push through it, the sensible option was to delay our train trip, give the kids rest and cancel our plans for that day.
The same can be said about having private family time. If you are staying with relatives or friends during your holiday, make sure you factor in some time just for yourselves. Go on an outing alone or book into some accommodation elsewhere for a portion of your trip. We did this during one of our trips to visit family in the south of Italy. We stayed with relatives for most of our trip but having two young children in their home all the time did have moments of difficulty. We booked a week in a resort down on the coast just for us, and it was great, plus we got to see more whilst on our trip.
Advice – be flexible, itineraries are great, but your families happiness comes first!
Check your children’s luggage
We made the mistake of not checking our children’s back packs for our international flight to New Zealand and the sniffer dog quickly realised that my daughters back pack contained something that he was very interested in. It appeared that my daughter left some twigs and sticks in the bottom of her bag, but it was a good wake up call to the fact that I did not checked what they put in their bags.
Truth be told, I had to learn this lesson twice, when travelling to Tasmania and my daughter at packed a pencil case that contained a pair of craft scissors and it caused a bit of a stir when going through security. They said they would have to remove the scissors, and my daughter became quite distressed. It didn’t really matter as the scissors probably meant nothing to her, it was that someone was threatening to throw them away that was the issue and not a great way to start your adventure . In the end, she was allowed to keep them. They were harmless craft scissors, but I completely understand there predicament and I should have known better.
Advice – triple check your children’s carry on!
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