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Travelling with Kids

With one hand holding your toddler and the other clutching the map, how many bags do you really want to be lugging around as you explore the world? The answer is: as few as possible! Adventure Director, FIONA ROUSE explains.

Having spent the past 15 years travelling with our two children, and experimenting with different packing methods, I’ve settled on a strict minimalist approach. I now focus on the essentials. And I’ve said goodbye to suitcases, regardless of how fashionable they are or how easily they glide across the floor. Backpacks may not look so glam and don’t do three-point turns, but they leave your hands free for more important matters.

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We’ve found that items like nappies, baby food and even changes of clothes are readily available almost everywhere in the world, and often at a cheaper price than you’d pay for them at home. Our first big trip with a young one in tow was to Sri Lanka with our 20-month-old son. My husband, loaded up like a pack horse, with enough nappies for the entire trip, plus extras – because, well, you never know… – was surprised to find Huggies in every corner store. Familiar foodstuffs, for those days when only tinned spaghetti will hit the spot, are usually readily available also.

We’ve given up on packing toys too: they can be bought really cheaply at your destination and have high novelty value for your kids. And, should your children tire of them, depending on where you are travelling to, these toys can make great gifts to local children. This makes for a cost-effective way of keeping your family entertained, whilst also spreading a bit of joy on
your travels.

There are a few items, however, that you will want to make room for. Making sure your kids have something to keep them entertained on long journeys, to allow for some much-needed downtime for them, and for you, is essential. With the proliferation of electronic devices, it is now very easy to load books to read and games to play. For those of you who want your holiday to be a screen-free experience, then a stack of paper and coloured pencils is a must. A pack of cards is also a handy thing to have, as are a few hardcopy books for those bed-time reads.

If your child is particularly fond of an item, like a cuddly toy or blanket, I strongly suggest it stays at home. We learnt this the hard way when our three-year-old daughter accidently lost her ‘blanky’ out the window of a Vietnamese train. Needless-to-say, bed times were fraught for some time afterwards! After that, we started introducing a ‘special travel item’ to our kids a month or so before the trip to provide the necessary comfort without quite the same level of emotional attachment, so that, if lost on the journey, it wasn’t the end of the world.

The bottom line is, as long as you have your passports, you really don’t need much else. Pack light, buy local and keep your hands free to hold onto your toddler. And enjoy sharing the magic of travel with them.

Fiona Rouse and her husband have always loved travelling, and starting a family didn’t put a stop to their adventures. They have spent the past 15 years gallivanting around the world with their children.

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