Guest Post: Tips For Traveling With Kids By The Lagalags
As a family with young kids, it never hindered us to travel. Yes, it’s possible! Sometimes stressful, but definitely possible. It may not be as easy as spending the afternoon in a mall, with the comfort of pushing your kid in a stroller and enjoying the air-conditioned weather. But getting out of your comfort zone for an adventure has lots of benefits. Traveling bonds the family. You learn together and share experiences about life, nature, and culture. You learn to come around the mood swings and meltdowns to make the most out of every trip. It’s the best gift to give your children while they’re young. Instead of giving them material things, invest in moments that you’ll cherish forever. Instead of getting tranced in gadgets, immerse in Earth’s beauty.
I think we passed on to our kids the 'travel bug' rather quite early. At a young age, I’m so glad they have this huge appetite to seek adventures, to explore the unfamiliar, to try new things, and to be closer to nature as much as possible. So much, that sometimes we can't keep up with their wanderlust, going home is the least fun in their list.
Quick family photo before the train arrives! (Fukuoka, Japan)
4 years of kids tagging along in every trip, here’s what we learned:
1| GO TO PLACES WHERE KIDS CAN PARTICIPATE
When going on a planned trip, try to research prior if there are family-friendly or kid-friendly activities available in the area. Choose resorts that have facilities dedicated for kids, like a pool or play area. Or go to farms that let kids feed animals, go fishing, or pick up vegetables.
At the Terra Verde farm, riding a sled pulled by an albino carabao (Maragondon, Cavite)
2| ALWAYS GO FOR UNIQUE EXPERIENCES
In a child’s perspective, every experience is a first time. They’re slowly realizing that the earth is a big place to live in and there are lot of things to learn and see, which makes it exciting! And as parents, it’s a fulfilling feeling to be able to share the experience with them.
Climbing the Mt. Gulugod-Baboy summit (Mabini, Batangas)
3| ADVENTURES NEED NOT BE EXPENSIVE
There are lots of places to go where you don’t need to spend a lot, or even nothing at all. Have a picnic in the park, and if there’s a water fountain you can let the kids run around the water spouts. Go on a quick road trip and enjoy the rural scenery, then eat at a local eatery to cap the day. Visit nearby museums, historical monuments, tunnels, etc. A constant change of environment stimulates the kids' senses. Even an errand day can be turned into an adventure.
Kaybiang Tunnel (Ternate, Cavite)
4| NATURE IS THE BEST PLAYGROUND
Nature is still the best playground for children. I couldn’t say it more. Exploring and learning are limitless. They can play and be curious, and at the same time become more conscious in taking care of their environment. For some kids, it can be overwhelming – like a first dip in the beach, seeing the endless horizon, and the shore moving wave after wave, or a first boat ride, or a first hike in the forest. It's a lot to take in for your first-timers. That's why it's important for you to be there as their security blanket. Give them room to absorb everything, then slowly you’ll see that they will gain confidence and explore on their own.
First time to swim in a river! (Cavinti, Laguna)
5| HANDLE MELTDOWNS
When kids become cranky, it’s most likely they’re tired or hungry. Let them rest for a while, and give them some quiet time. Either a nap, or a snack while sitting down will recharge their energy, and yours also. Or distract them with ice cream, because ice cream works every time.
Nap time at the beach (El Nido, Palawan)
6| KEEPING THEM OCCUPIED
On a long trip, keep them still in the car or plane by bringing something to keep them busy. Our favorite are stickers, crayons and paper, small books and small toys, then we hand them out one at a time (as needed :D). Works also when dining in a restaurant so you can eat in peace. On tours, you can keep the kids occupied by giving them their own camera. Just a point and shoot plastic camera to tinker with. This will make them look for interesting things and not complain about the long walks. Another idea is let them hold a copy of a tourist guide map (when traveling in a foreign place), then pretend that you’re looking for a treasure to make things exciting.
7| WHAT TO PACK
This really depends on your destination. For beach trips, make sure to bring aqua shoes just in case the beach is full of rocks or corals. Sandals or outdoor shoes for hiking. Packing an extra nylon jacket and water resistant shoes are also a must, in case of rain.
When traveling abroad, bringing your own lightweight stroller is a big help. Especially in countries where long walks are normal, and cab fares are steep. Most helpful when you're out the whole day, a tired (or cranky 😆) toddler can easily nap in the stroller. If you can't bring one, try to inquire in tourist centers if they have baby strollers that you can borrow for free or rent. 😉
For short trips, I always let our kids pack their own adventure go bags. They fill it with snacks, current fave toy/s, and sometimes an extra shirt for trips with lots of activity.
Even if it’s raining, Isla is ready to stroll around the streets of Japan (Fukuoka, Japan)
8| GETTING AROUND
For babies or smaller kids, slings are also great for quick walks aside from strollers. Lightweight and foldable, easily fits in your hand carry bag. You also have 2 hands free to move around. Downside is, the baby will eventually get tired of the same carrying position, and you'll get tired of the heavy weight. Maybe a few hours of walking is enough.
When camping or walking around a beach town, we use a foldable wagon. Much easier when you can throw in all the floaters, snacks, AND kids inside. Then just tow as you stroll!
Beach time! (San Juan, La Union)
9| LEARNING WHILE TRAVELING
We practice early homeschooling with the kids, and the lessons are not limited inside our house. We try to learn as much as possible in every trip. When we go to a mountain, we talk about different kinds of land forms, then water forms when on a beach or river. We learn about culture when visiting provinces or other countries. We learn about history when in museums. We learn about animals in the farm, so on and forth. The learning is endless!
Aboard the majestic and historical Balangay! (Balangay Sunset Cruise)
We’re not the luxury traveler type and don’t usually splurge on accommodations. We’d rather spend more on activities, food, and spontaneous extension of trips. 😄. This may not be applicable to all, but to fit our small family of 4, we usually get standard rooms with a queen sized bed, then request for an extra mattress for the kids. (Some hotels/ hosts provide them for free!)
It would also be great to let the kids experience different kinds of accommodations. Try something different every time you go somewhere --- sleep in a tent, a treehouse, a native kubo, a boat, a log cabin, a castle, etc.! The kids can learn about culture / history while staying in different kinds of houses. They can also pretend to be Mowgli or Moana or Elsa!
Jumping up and down the futons inside our kubo (Cavinti, Laguna)