We have been traveling a lot lately. And not just traveling, but doing it with a five-year-old son, who is not always a good boy, like any five-year-old boy. Our trips from planned and predictable easily turn into unexpected and full of surprises. It happened the last time when we decided to live 2 months in Croatia. The saying “If you want to make God laugh - make plans” comes to this journey as well as possible - we had to break loose and leave almost a month earlier, while jumping into Istanbul for a couple of days.
After this marathon, I realized that no matter where we went and regardless of the period: a) my luggage must be lifted and the bag comfortable, b) never be interested in my child if he wants to go to the toilet, but just take the hand and lead there. Otherwise, I again risk to be in the middle of an 8-lane freeway on a concrete bus stop with very heavy bags and a child who has rushed to the toilet.
Leo Babauta, the author of the zenhabits.net blog, traveled for three weeks with his wife and five children, so he really has something to share.
1. Luggage must be light
As I have already said, recently we often travel with a child and these journeys are radically different from singles or couples. Every time I took a first-aid kit with me, which a small pharmacy in the district center would envy. And each time, of all this, only a maximum of three medicines were used - for a cold, for cough and, as a result, for my headache. But every time I was reinsured (I think my mothers will understand me). The same was true of clothes - a huge number of warm sweaters, pants, jackets and shoes (and suddenly it's cold ?!), and there are no numbers for t-shirts and skirts. As a result, we cruised to the beach in swimsuits and light capes, and my three evening dresses did not wait for their high point.
For the last time, I still managed to collect a trip to the Crimea with a child, one quite lifting suitcase for two.
And yet - the bag or backpack should be very comfortable. For our family, we chose the option of hiking backpacks - each has its own displacement and the weight that it can carry on its shoulders for a long time. The child, by the way, also has its own little backpack.
2. Rent rooms or apartments, not a hotel, in the central areas of the city
When we looked at the prices of rooms in hotels in Istanbul, the cheapest of the more or less decent ones, where it’s not scary to live with a child, was a number that costs 120 euros per day. On the outskirts of the city, hotels were cheaper, but if we take into account the fact that Istanbul is about 4 times more than Kiev, we will spend much more money on the road to the center and main attractions than we will save on the room.
We decided to use the AirBnB service and rented an excellent two-room apartment near one of the central squares of the city (Taksim Square) for only 56 euros per day. And it was very close to the main attractions - the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
3. Walk everywhere and look in all corners of the new place
I admit to you honestly - I am not a very big fan of excursions or clearly planned routes. Most of all I like to just wander the streets. In such cases, you can get to the most beautiful and interesting places without crowds of tourists. So if you have comfortable shoes and a few days in a new city, I strongly advise you to devote one day to excursions, and then just wander and look into secluded corners. But not in the evening! In the evening it is better to send your curiosity and love for walking to sleep. And if you wander, then only along the central and well-lit streets.
4. Get lost
The card is a must have in the tourist's carry-on baggage. It is simply necessary when searching for specific places. But if you hide the map and just wander around unfamiliar streets, you can discover a huge number of incredible and interesting places!
It was in this way that we accidentally found the iKebab snack bar, where orders were taken on the iMac, and the kebabs themselves were incredibly tasty. So we found a market and shops for local people and bought all souvenirs 2.5 times cheaper than on the main tourist streets.
In Lviv, there are a huge number of nice courtyards and cozy cafes that you just can not find. And if you know what doors to knock in the center of Kiev, you can get into the courtyard with large black and almost tame ravens in a huge cage.
5. Ice cream will bring good mood to your children.
Only if the child is not sick! And so it really is an excellent means of not only refreshment, but also to maintain the morale in your children. When we wandered around Istanbul or traveled to the small towns of Istria in Croatia, Vanya behaved well and endured long walks in the literal sense “for ice cream”. And the ice cream there is very tasty!
6. Use your trip as a mini language course.
Such travel is a great opportunity to learn a couple of new words in a new language or to hone your already acquired skills. The locals will help you with great pleasure. Moreover, the attitude towards you will also change dramatically for the better when they see that you are trying to apply in the local language.
Perhaps you will understand what language is easier for you and decide to learn a couple more new ones.
7. Ask for recommendations from local residents.
Of course, all the books and guides around the cities are an excellent source of information about the main sights of the city, but they still won't tell you the most interesting things. Only local people will send you to the best wine or pizzeria store, where they cook the most delicious pizza in the city. Only local people know the secret routes and all interesting places that are not shown on the map.
You can write to your friend in advance from the country to which you are going, or write to the general group on social networks. And you can also read tips on Foursquare or on Google maps. We checked - it works!
8. Avoid "tourist traps"
On the hiking trails, the most expensive restaurants and cafes with dishes of dubious quality and the most expensive shops. However, they are unlikely to please you with a wide selection of goods or dishes.
Try to buy something or dine away from the main tourist streets. This is especially true of cafes - the price decreases, and the taste improves the further you move away from the center. To buy in such places you can only that you do not buy anywhere else - souvenirs.
9. Always carry something that will take your children.
Not all excursions or walks will be interesting to your children. I am already silent about the hours spent waiting at the airports. If you do not find something to occupy your child, you risk earning a headache and feel dozens of disgruntled views of others around you on your back.
Pencils and razukrashki, books, toys and computer games - there are no restrictions! Believe me, the six-hour transfer at the Vienna airport is not the best place to think about how this activity or game will be useful and informative for your child. By the way, in the same airport, we found small free-of-charge understudies on an airplane theme that stood on stands throughout the hall.
10. Daytime sleep and again daytime sleep!
After long walks it is very pleasant and helpful to take a nap after lunch. This is especially true of children. Even if the child rests and assures that he does not want to sleep and will not fall asleep for anything (play, play, play.), He will switch off faster than his head touches the pillow. Some even manage to fall asleep behind a bowl of soup.
In addition, daytime sleep will be useful to you in order to gain strength for new walks.
11. Buy groceries at the store
Cafes, restaurants and street food is good. But if you have the opportunity to cook something in the apartment that you are renting, it is better not to miss this opportunity. I in no way agitate to cook the whole day, but you can cook soup for children once a couple of days. In addition, it is not necessary to cook something, you can just buy yogurt, fruit, vegetables and bread - it is cheaper than in a cafe, and there is always something to eat at home than to eat.
And not always the food served in the cafe, or the local cuisine in general can suit your children. Vanya got used to Thai dishes for a very long time and for the first two weeks I fed him exclusively homely food.
13. Remember the lessons of history
Travel history comes to life. After all, you can see and touch the Colosseum, the pyramid or the ruins of a Greek temple. A walk through the history of the place or city to which you are going will be useful not only for children, but also for you. And, of course, in such travels, children are much more willing to listen to such stories and remember. After all, they not only read about it in the book, but also saw it with their own eyes! And the rest will complete the rich children's imagination)
14. Arrange rest days for yourself.
Constant walks are very tiring and at some point you will not be happy about new places. Despite the fact that children just seethe with energy, they get tired even more. Rather, they do not even get tired, but they just get tired of constantly going somewhere or going somewhere.
Therefore, arrange your free days without a clear program, when you can just relax and unwind (or lie on the beach, if possible). And then with new forces and enthusiasm, plan new routes.
16. Travel is always an adventure!
And not a madhouse for collecting and transporting things and catching scattered offspring. Traveling is great! These are new places, new acquaintances and, possibly, new friends. This is a new experience and new knowledge. This is the discovery of an unfamiliar side of the world. You cannot plan everything and keep everything under control. So just relax and let the flow.
I singled out for myself three basic rules: a minimum of things (only necessary), a convenient bag or backpack and tickets with a floating date,)
The train ride is usually longer, but the child has more opportunities to move. Family travel by rail will be easier if you fulfill the following conditions:
- Buy a ticket to a non-smoking car (abroad is a common practice).
- Take the train thirty minutes before departure to arrange things and make the baby more comfortable.
- If you are traveling together with a child, be sure to take a "kangaroo": without him, going to the toilet may not be feasible. Do not leave the child with strangers, no matter how friendly they may seem, especially if the train approaches the station.
- Accept suggestions to help with things when embarking and disembarking, but do not let strangers carry a child.
- If your train journey will be long, grab a few toys to get a new one to replace the one that the child has had time to bore. Or look out the window: show your child cars, houses, sky, clouds. This technique saved many moms when their imagination began to deplete.
- Be sure to grab more food. In the dining car, there are often long lines that you can stand up to the counter and find that the sandwiches you have chosen have run out.
Higher than clouds
Airplanes are convenient for family travel, as this is the fastest way to get from one place to another. Flight can be made enjoyable if you fulfill the following conditions:
- Arrive at the airport early enough to take care of all the pre-flight procedures (baggage check in, getting boarding passes), but not early enough to sit in the waiting room for a long time.
- If you have not specified a space for the bulkhead in advance, you can try to do it before departure. If these places are no longer available, try switching seats with passengers already in the cabin itself.
- Passengers with children are sometimes offered to board out of turn, so that you can arrange a child without fuss and put hand luggage on the shelves above the seats. However, if you have reason to believe that the baby in a cramped room will begin to act up, then you should wait and go to the landing last. If another adult flies with you, ask permission for one of you to carry the luggage on the plane, while the second adult will spend some time outside with the child.
- Coordinate feeds with takeoff and landing. Toddlers (especially babies) are sharper than adults, feeling the pressure drops. Sometimes they have pain in the ears associated with taking off and landing. Sucking breasts, bottles or pacifiers promotes frequent swallowing, so that the discomfort almost does not bother the child.
- If the baby is naughty, accept the help of those who kindly offer it to you, and do not pay attention to those who are so ignorant and callous that they will throw indignant glances in your direction.
- As often as possible, let the child drink during the flight: traveling in an airplane helps dehydration. If you are breastfeeding, then you yourself need to drink more than usual, but do not forget that drinks containing alcohol and caffeine, to use during the period of breastfeeding a baby in any case is not recommended.
- If the child needs heated food, ask the stewardess to warm you a bottle or a jar (without lids). But do not forget to shake or mix their contents properly and carefully check the temperature of the food so that the child does not get burned: microwave ovens may heat the products unevenly.
- If you are flying alone, feel free to ask the stewardess to hold the baby while you go to the toilet.
- Get out of the plane last, to avoid a crush and have time to collect all your belongings. If you are met, warn that you will be the last to leave the plane.
Riding an iron horse
A car is not the fastest transport, and the trip becomes very tiresome if you drive the car yourself, and the child is bored in a confined space. However, this type of movement allows you to choose the speed that is convenient for you, stop when you need to, and where you want, and have your own transport when you arrive at the place. A family car trip can be made safer, more pleasant and more comfortable if you consider the following:
- Make sure that the car has seat belts for all adults and older children and special seats for babies. The car should not get under way until everyone has taken their places and the doors are not locked.
- In hot weather, vinyl seats should be covered with a soft cloth, towels or faux fur covers. A rolled-up towel or a ready-made headrest will not allow the head of the child to slide over the back of the seat, and a blanket under the hips will make the seat more comfortable.
- Make frequent stops (ideally - every two hours): kids in the car get tired quickly. During stops, take the child to the air and, if he already knows how, let him walk or crawl. Use stops and for breastfeeding.
- Change places with your husband or fellow travelers who have a driver's license. For a change and chat with your baby, periodically change from the driver’s seat to the back seat and entertain your baby.
- Attach toys to the child seat with ribbons or strings (no longer than 10-12 cm) so that you do not have to constantly unbutton your seat belt when lifting abandoned toys.
- If you are driving in cold weather, take extra clothes and blankets with you in case you get stuck somewhere. At temperatures around zero, the car quickly turns into a fridge, especially if the furnace in it does not work well.
- Never leave a child in a parked car in warm or hot weather. Even with the windows open, the car quickly heats up and the baby can get a heat stroke.
Struggle with boredom
Have you made a rich entertainment program? But with a child you can not always do it. Therefore, when planning a trip, be sure to consider this moment in your daily routine, otherwise the voyage will not give you pleasure.
- Change the route according to the situation. If you expected to travel from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad without stopping, and the child in Chelyabinsk has already begun to faint, stop for the night. If you have planned two days to get to know Athens, but the whims of children on the very first day deprived you of the pleasure of seeing the ruins, put the Parthenon for another day — or even for another trip.
- Try to choose places where the child does not have to stay in one place for a long time or be silent. Ruins, parks, zoos, and even some museums can be interesting for the youngest, even if most of the time they will not look at the sights, but of the people around them. If possible, hire a child nanny if you want to go to the opera, to a concert or to the theater.
- Remember that the needs of the baby must be considered in the first place, otherwise the trip will not bring joy to anyone. Если карапуз не поспит или не поест вовремя или его будут укладывать спать непривычно поздно, страдать будут все. Вы можете делать все что угодно в том случае, если ребенок легко ко всему приспосабливается.
Если вы едете в местность, расположенную высоко над уровнем моря, вам необходимо принять определенные меры предосторожности.
- Так как на высоте солнечные лучи имеют большую интенсивность, необходимо пользоваться средствами от загара и ограничивать время пребывания на солнце. And as the need for liquid increases, your child should be given an additional 200–300 grams of diluted fruit juice or water daily during the entire period while you are in a mountainous area.
- In children with anemia, due to low oxygen levels, breathing and heartbeat can become more frequent and fatigue can increase. This should not be alarming, unless the baby has had an infectious disease or if he has a heart condition. In this case, before traveling, you should consult with your doctor. And be sure to plan frequent stops to rest.