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Travelling With Kids

G MNAC Barcelona

Inspired by The Sanguine’s post I would like to share my experiences travelling with kids. Ok, I only have one daughter but I hope my tips and tricks could help other parents with young kids who love to travel. This is a long post, so get ready to scroll down.

For some background information: my husband and I travelled a lot before G, our daughter was born in 2001. After we became parents we haven’t stopped travelling. We don’t travel as much as before though. This is our annual travel pattern now: summer holiday 2 weeks in Europe or 4 to 5 weeks to far destinations (Asia, mostly Indonesia where I come from), 2 – 3 city trips to neighbouring countries like Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg or exploring another cities in The Netherlands. So far as a family (the three of us) we have been to Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, France, Italy, Swiss, Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg.

G is now 12 years old. I was wondering how to share my experiences travelling with kids as a toddler has other needs than 5 year old child. So I decided to split my tips & tricks according to age groups. Before I do that below are two general tips parents with travel plans should do, no matter how old their kids are:

  • Book the accommodation and transportation on time. Most airlines have special fares for babies and toddlers (only 70% up to 75% off adult fare) and children up to 12 years. Several hotels/resorts also offer ajoining rooms and baby sitting service. Most important is to inform whether the accommodation you are interested in is suitable for your children, for example: resorts on a rock are beautiful for sunset but they could be dangerous for children. Or the location of the hotel is in a dodgy area you won’t let your kids visit.
  • Families travelling with an airplane should be present at the airport on time. Why? When you are late, you’d be in a hurry, then you’d get reckless even moody perhaps. Kids can sense this negative vibe easily, trust me. My husband and I prefer to arrive too early on the airport, checking in would be a breeze. We then have time to relax or doing some window shopping before boarding.

Before the boarding CGK

Travelling with babies and toddlers (0 – 3 years)
Travelling with this age group is a matter of logistics. Basically they do as they always do at home: sleep, eat, drink and cry. Always take the following in your bag: 2 – 3 extra diapers just in case, a mini towel, wet wipes, liquid soap, water, formula, medicine, biscuits and toys.

  • Fly vacation: For long haul flight I used to book evening flights if it was possible. After eating dinner, baby G fell asleep in her babycot. Keep in mind by taking off and landing babies and toddlers cry much because they have pain in their ears. Just hold them tight, there is no need to try to distract them, they keep crying anyway and you’d get frustrated. Do not even pay attention to angry looking passengers as this will pass soon. Due to fly protocol you must hold your babies/toddler on your lap during taking off or landing.
  • Road trip: Do not push yourself; 6 – 8 hours drive a day is max.
  • Stroller is only handy when you are sure your destination has special path for it. If not, don’t take it. As this only slows you down because of its extra weight. We travelled from Jakarta to Bali by car when G was only 11 months old. The route was Jakarta, Yogya, Surabaya, Malang (Bromo), Bali. My husband carried G on his back climbing up Bromo for the sunrise. She was ok and did not feel uncomfortable with that.

In the picture below my husband and G are loading our groceries in Lyon, France during our road trip to South France. G was 2,5 years old then.

Stop at Lyon

Travelling with pre school and first grader (3 – 5 years)
I experienced this as a difficult period as they start to express themselves verbally. At this stage children tend to say no to everything, throw tantrum and ask the endless “Are we there yet?” question. Keep your calm and stay cool. Take many toys and coloring prints. When they are done with drawing or playing, reward them with sweets/biscuits or anything you find acceptable for your kids. Giving them constant attention is the key. Be flexible with your plan but yet do not let the kids control the holiday.

Involve them in the surroundings, make them aware you are travelling right now. I asked G to start collect something as a souvenir. She collected sand she kept in a jar.

This stage is ideal to introduce local (street)food. Don’t limit yourself by eating junkfood or familiar dishes only just because it’s convenient for you and especially your kids. You’d be surprised how children’s tastebuds develop. G discovered in Playa d’Aro, Spain that she found shrimps tasty. She was three at that moment. We teach her to try new food/drink first before deciding whether she likes it or not.

Nice, France

G at Frankfurt Airport

Mutun Beach, Lampung

Travelling with children age 6 – 8 years
Travelling started to be more fun with children from this age group. Why? They have learned at school about things, animals, history. Kids at this stage are able to enjoy more. I began exploring more museums and historical sites when G was 6. Dutch school teacher asks the pupils to share their holiday in front of the class. G started to collect more souvenirs than sand only. She took hotel’s brochures, restaurants cards or airline’s cosmetic pouches to show to her classmates.

To avoid that G got bored, I combined leisure (playing on the beach) with exploring the place (visiting must sees spots, nature), food and culture.

Travelling with big kids age 9 – 12 years
Things get easier with children at this stage. When G turned 10 I asked her to pack her bag herself at least two days before departing. I would check it to be sure she had everything. By doing this I teach her to travel light.

For the summer vacation my husband and I told her our destination 4 months before. She would browse the information on the web herself. She also may contribute to travel plans, what we should do. So far she’s fallen in love with Ubud, Bali and Barcelona, Spain. She’d love to visit Greece but is still afraid of rally as long as the crises is still going on there.

You can ask your kids to learn simple words in the language of the destination such as: thank you, please, good morning/day/afternoon/evening, how much, where is etc. Let them order food and drink themselves allowing them to experience the feel.

Or ask them to find a spot on the map. G loves to look for the shortest route when taking the metro during our citytrips. Lately she’s been reading travelblogs, tripadvisor and fashionblogs. Some information she read is good to know for us.

Muralla de Gerona

G exploring the ancient wall in Gerona, Spain with her dad.

Bij Neues Museum

In front of an Egyptian sarcophagus of a child in Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany. She thought this was a mini bath tube.

G in the snow

G in chilly Antwerpen at 8 degree Celsius below zero! She complained why we needed to travel for a weekend getaway while it was freezing cold. I soothed her by saying “One day you’d laugh about this”. I hope by saying this she understood that travelling is a process not only reaching the end destination.

Bukit Gumang

With our Dutch family and friends during our 4 weeks epic Indonesian trip exploring Java Bali by land (car and train) and by air and boat. This is an amazing view from top of Gumang Hill in Karangasem, Bali. After a steep climbing of an hour, seeing this and Lombok island on the background is undescribable.

Kinderen in Tanah Lot

The kids in front of Tanah Lot’s gate, Bali.

G and ice cream

G and her reward, super delicious Italian gelato after she bravely did the tour along The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in Paris without one single complain! She even enjoyed it. This was the deal because we went to Euro Disney the previous day, fair enough, right?

G has been stricken by travelbug the past two years. On her bucket list: Hawaii (She is Hawaii Five O and Lilo and Stich fan), Greece (due to Mamamia the movie), West and East Coast USA, India (cool and colourful), Australia (its nature), South America (her adult cousin just got back from a mini sabattical in Chile, Argentina & Brazil) and Wakatobi Islands (East Indonesia).

My last tip for parents with young kids: Do not overthink, just do it! Arrange everything, pack your bag and go. Kids get bored and whine the whole time? They are just kids, not a battery doll with an on and off mode.

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45 thoughts on “Travelling With Kids

  1. Well G has a good feeling in greece. And it’s safe (at least for me) I hope G will visit Greece soon like she wanted.🙂
    It’s so cool when she turned 10 she contributed to your plan. This is what I was talking about with Bandi. I told him when someday we had kid(s) I would ask her (god I hope it’s a daughter) to pack her own bags, study the map and she could choose which attractions she wanted to go. Funny I’ve never thought about traveling with my kid(s) when she was a toddler even baby.
    I’m sooo bookmarking this, Lor! You’re freaking awesome. I know traveling with spouse is so fun but from what i read, traveling with kids is just as fun.🙂 can’t wait for it to happen.🙂

    • You are welcome May! If I was not inspired by your stories and sincere surprises seeing parents travelling with young kids, I would not have written this post. I found travelling with G as a baby and a toddler a lot easier than when she was pre school. After that age group, planning the holiday has become more and more fun. For our Paris trip last year, she started a shared pin board about Paris on her Pinterest account.

      Travelling with kids take you to how they see the world. Get ready to rediscover yourself!

  2. Forgot to mention this… G is adoooorraaablleeee!!!!🙂 and her daddy is charming! :”)
    The three of you look so wonderful I hope someday I could meet you guys in persons!😀

    • Thank you again! As we have been to Indonesia in 2009, 2011 and 2012 G has had enough of long haul flights🙂 So we will head to Asia in 2015, perhaps we’ll stop by in Singapore and give you a visit.

  3. aduuuhh, mbak Yo. Sukaaaa postingan ini. G: Giulian, bener nggak ya? Artinya apa tuh, mbak? bahasa belanda, ya?
    Bener kata May, G si aadoooorraaablleeee!!!!🙂 and her daddy is charming!🙂
    Sukaaa foto kalian yang bertiga itu. Dan suka kalimat penutupnya. Anak2 itu bukan boneka bayi yg ada tombol on-offnya. haha, Noted!🙂

    • Giulia Fit, Julia sebutnya ini ejaan Itali biar match sama nama belakangnya. Makasih ya. Aku salut juga sama kamu dengan A3, repot tapi seneng pastinya. Betul kan, anak kecil ngga ada tombol on off?🙂

      • hah, iya. tanpa N, yaaaa…🙂
        Mbak Yo, tahu nggak.. pas baca jurnal ini, aku senyum2 sendiri, liat kategori umurnya. Haha, untuuungg.. si bontot udah 3 tahun, si tengah 5 tahun, trus si sulung udah 7,5 tahun. Jadi paling tidak, A3 ‘cuma’ masuk 2 kategori saja, 3-5 dan 6-8 tahun. Hahaha…
        Iya, sekarang2 udah lumayan banget mbak, kalo pergi2. Udah nggak serepot dulu. Sekarang Andro-Aura udah bisa ‘bawa diri’ tinggal Amartha aja nih, yang masih kudu ‘dipelototin’ hahaha..

        • Iya, menarik ya lihat tingkah laku anak seiring mereka tumbuh. Repot & cara kita mengurus mereka beda tergantung umur mereka.

  4. Mba, cuma mau comment, itu G nya cantikkk banget😀 antara ngeliat muka masa kecilnya Mba Lorraine atau ntar gedenya G, miripppp bangetttt ibu-anak🙂

  5. G charming banget Mbak Lor…🙂
    Aku sempat bahas sama Suami tentang hobi travelling kita, apa nanti setelah punya anak akan tetap travelling atau gak, dan Suami bilang: “Tetap travelling!”

    Can’t wait until it happen😀

    • Tetep travelling dong Dev, pasti kaki gatel nanti mau jalan ha…ha…Lagipula aku & suami pikir travelling itu school of life untuk si kecil. Contohnya si G yang bingung kok banyak pengemis anak-anak di Indonesia. Komentarnya dia sederhana liat anak ngemis jam 10 malem di Jakarta “Kok mereka belum tidur? Besok kan sekolah?” Aku jadi jelasin kedia deh. Selain itu punya anak bukan berarti kita harus berhenti dengan hobby kita, ya kan?

  6. I adore this family! Hihihi. Mbak tipsnya oke banget nih, having fun sama family is a must ya mba😉 Aku juga pengen ntar kalo udah nikah & punya anak, tetap bisa jalan-jalan seru hehehe. Btw, G is beautifuulllll. Mirip sama mba Lo🙂

    • Betul, dimana aja, kapan pun dibawa enaknya ya Lia. Ngapain stress atau marah ngga jelas selama travelling, yang penting jalan-jalan🙂 Mudah – mudahan tipsnya bisa ngebantu suatu hari.

  7. Mbak Yo, G cantikk dan mirip bgtt yaa sama dirimuuu.. ahh ternyata punya anak pun ga menghalangi buat bs travelling ya mbak. Walau ada plus minusnya tapi kalau dibawa santai tampaknya sangat menyenangkaan🙂
    Btw mba, suamimu org Indo asli atau bukan? Mukanya mirip org Jepang juga abisnya. hihihi

    • Betul Mar, makasih ya. Suamiku gado-gado. Ibunya Cina dari pulau Bangka, bapaknya keturunan Itali, Swiss, Jerman, Cirebon & Bangil. Makanya mukanya seperti Jepang tapi postur Eropa.

      • Waahh rame bgt mba campurannya. Aku kira Jepang campur Indo loh. Ahahaha. Wahh sama2 orang Bangka kalo gitu. Papaku jg asli Bangka mba🙂
        Btw mba yo, itu foto yg Gumang Hill juara bgt. Aku kira di luar loh.

        • Hahaha bisa jadi mbak.. Kl papaku bukan di sungai liat tapi di desa namanya Bakek. Tapi dulu juga dia pernah tinggal di sungai liat katanya. Ahh jadi kangen pulang kampung

  8. Salut banget buat mendaki Bromo sambil gendong G!
    Thanks for sharing mbak. Bermanfaat dan seneng baca kisah2 serunya. Setuju bahwa traveling is about the whole process in reaching the destination, not only about the destination itself.🙂

    • Waktu ke Bromo itu masih kecil dia, belum sampe 10 kg beratnya😉 Kita cuma 3 kali liburan bawa stroller deh totalnya Cha. Sebegitu si G bisa jalan, ngga pake lagi. Kalo dia cape jalan, digendong papanya atau ya kitanya yang berhenti.

      Sama-sama Cha. Mudah-mudahan bisa membantu orang lain pos ini.

  9. Well of course there’s a generation between us and we travelled with three kids (usually Scandinavia and Eastern Europe,) most of the time camping and hopping from place to place, yet I think we should have applied your hints ( had we known them)😉.

    Anyhow, I agree with May: yours obviously is a happy family of three beautiful people🙂.

    • Eastern Europe intriques me also to spend more time there more than just short citytrips. Travelling in Europe is in my opinion better by car as you can see more. Thank you Colson, the three of us just want to have fun🙂

  10. Semoga menginspirasi keluarga lainnya utk tetap traveling walaupun punya bocah cause i hate this sentence “puas2in jalan2nya mumpung blm punya anak…”

  11. G is adorable!!! Emang bagusnya positive thiking aja kalo mw travelling ama buntut ya mbak, kalo udah bingung mikir ini itu duluan yang ada bakalan makin stress di jalan toh ??

  12. Bener banget mbak, mengkhawatirkan reaksi penumpang lain kalau seandainya anak nangis malah bikin stress ya😀. Ya, kalau gak mau keganggu anak kecil, pesen first class aja kali, hehehe…Btw, keluarga yang rupawan…G cantik banget mirip mbak semuanya🙂.

    • Iya, lagipula paling kan hanya 5 – 10 menit. Di Firs Class juga kadang ada anak kecil kalo orang tua mereka bisa bayar tiket🙂 Makasih Pungky udah mampir kesini.

  13. wahh waktu Giulia umur 11 bulan dibawa perjalanan Jakarta-Bali naik mobil dan ngga complain pula. Hebat. Naik ke Bromo pula. ngga kedinginan ya?😀

  14. Hai Mba, salam kenal🙂

    This blog inspire me as we have 2,5 year old daughter. All this time, we’ve been back and forth Jakarta – Manado as we live now in Manado, but either my husband family and my own is living in Jakarta. I’ve been familiar with taking my daughter travel with airplane since she was a baby (walaupun masih yang deket deket), and yes they are harder when they get the age of pre-schooler , apalagi saat fase “Apa itu mama? Apa itu papa? Ini apa?”, LOL.

    We’ve been thinking to have a USA trip for a vacation, but we keep holding back thinking that she couldn’t handle the Jet-Lag. How can you avoid the Jet-Lag for G back when she’s still in her preschooler age?

    • Hi Anessa,

      My husband and I couldn’t prevent G for having a jetlag after a long haul flight. We let her have it for a day, then we adjusted our schedule to local time. When she became tired, we took a rest for a while. Your daughter might get cranky but that will pass. This is one of the unconveniences travelling with kids. However we parent, tend to overrate/overreact how our kids would do, while in case of your daughter, maybe the jet lag would not be that bad at all.

      Have fun preparing the trip and thank you for stopping by.

  15. Mbak Yo, baru baca tips travel with kidsnya nih, bermanfaat banget… thanks sharingnya ya mbak.. ide untuk collect something as a souvenir simple but brilliant🙂

  16. Wooow, what a complete list of tips of different ages🙂. So true…if we know all those tips and tricks, traveling with kids would be fun! We love traveling as well mba…even since the kids were young…I remember we managed to make a road trip to Cinque Terre, Pisa and Firenze from Geneve while Bo was 4 and Obi was 7 months! It was super though…alhamdulillah everything went well🙂. Thanks for the tips…

    • You are welcome. The key in travelling with kids is plan the core but do not force the kids to work on the must-see list when they are still young. Follow their flow, you’re on vacation after all.

  17. Hihi ternyata mirip cerita si ibu yang baru aku tulis ya mba, yang penting anaknya harus mandiri dan keluarganya gak manjain. Kalau kebutuhan basic pastilah harus dipenuhi dan dibantu namanya pun anak kicik.

  18. your daughter are soo beautiful.. canteeeeeeeeeeekkkk.. cute!
    too bad hubby and i have too many differences when it comes to traveling habit.😀

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