Blissful Kids · Family Bliss · Travel Bliss

Family Travel with Three Children Under Seven

For the kids’ last school break hurrah, we decided to take them all on an out of town trip. We wanted to gift Claret the experience of flying in an airplane for her fifth birthday since she’s making us kulit about wanting to ride an airplane. We chose Bohol for our first family travel destination.

A little back story, we were only supposed to go with the mister who was supposed to attend his office’s planning session. The idea is while he works, I’ll tour the kids around. However, it had to be moved but then we were already booked (because ticket prices were rising already, we booked ahead). Fortunately, when two of my children’s godparents learned about this, they warmly and kindly gave the kids (and us, as companions, lol) free accommodation with no less The Bellevue Hotel Bohol. Stories and photos to follow! Anyways, thank you!

2013 was the last year we traveled via airplane with my firstborn, Jonath. After that, we just stopped looking and booking on airfare sales. We believed that two kids, then three, would be too much to handle on travel, especially one which involves airports and airplanes. However, we think that this year is a good time to give the kids another unique experience. Let me share with you how I/we survived our Bohol trip with three children under seven – six, four and two.

Pep talk the older kids about how your trip will likely uncover. Tell them what will happen at the airport. Let them know about the airport rules. Tell them what it’s like to be flying inside an airplane. Share with them your itinerary. This will make them more interested and connected with the trip and they can better manage their own expectations. Keeping track of everything you said and comparing it with what it’s like on the actual travel will keep them busy too, boredom solved!

When it comes to packing, pack light but pack right. Milk and medicines are two items which I would bring from home and not rely on local pharmacies. Do not bring toys unless they have a favorite one which they specifically requested you to bring. With my children, I told them beforehand that we’re not going to bring any toys. They agreed. And, I was pleased to see them use their imaginations to create their own plays or find make-shift toys. Hotel pencils and papers are actually their best friends!

In relation to packing, choose light and wrinkle-free fabrics. Bring extra dual-purpose clothes for the kids and do not rely on repeating or washing clothes. By dual-purpose, I mean, those that can be used on cold and hot weather, as sleepwear or as an airport outfit. For the children to enjoy, they need to be able to move around, get dirty and sweaty. They might need to change their clothes in a day. If you have extra money, it’s okay to avail of the laundry service. However, I’m not that type and I wouldn’t have time to wash them myself.

Ensure that they eat on time and drink plenty of water. If napless days make them cranky, put nap time on your schedule. Children get cranky due to a myriad of reasons but the usual culprits are hunger, dehydration, sleepiness, and tiredness.

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Talk to them as if they understand simply because they do, especially when they are out in their comfort zone, which is home. You’ll observe that they listen and obey more when you’re in a new and different environment rather than you’re at home.

If the budget allows, please stay at kid-friendly hotels like The Bellevue Hotel Bohol which has scheduled activities the whole family can enjoy. They have a long koi garden where the children can feed the fish. They have a kiddie infinity pool too. Lastly, kids can meet other kids. One thing about my children is that they also try to make “new friends” wherever they are. They did in Bohol and it’s amazing how they try to speak with their new friends in English kahit hindi sila hundred percent English speaking. It’s not like they are pretentious or trying too hard, they are, for me, adapting.

Don’t underestimate your children’s charms. Traveling with small kids make most people warm, friendly and accommodating toward your family most of the times. In the airplane, we didn’t have a hard time exchanging seats with others. In the hotel, we didn’t have a hard time bringing them to buffets free-of-charge. Although, they eat very little lang naman kasi talaga and they don’t try everything like adults do.

Let the children be children. Relax, mamas, as long as your non-negos are okay, then let go. My non-negos are, of course, safety rules, meals, vitamins/medicines, sleeping time/nap and attitude of gratitude. I discourage any signs of ingratitude. Katuwa naman, they quickly realize it themselves and correct their own behavior. Be flexible and bend a few rules for the sake of fun and harmony! Let them soak in the sun (with SPF 50), dance in the rain (basta hindi slippery) and get their hands dirty (basta don’t put it on their mouths and wash later).

Preparation. It’s on us parents! Since my children are all under seven, I take responsibility for all our things and for our itinerary. I have their birth certificates, health cards, and even medical histories. I don’t know about other families, but we are not yet ready for a backpacking style of travel. So, I made sure that whatever bag I carry, my arms can still at least grab them all in an instant. I research in advance. Take both mental and written notes. I lay out the rules and schedules for the duration of our travel. I don’t like underestimating children’s brain, you know. True enough, everyone followed through, even my youngest who is only two years old.

Don’t forget to pray and enjoy!

Among all the things I said above (except praying), I would say that the older kids are the key to a successful family trip. If they can take care of themselves and not be the ones to cause our stress, the little ones shall follow. If you have your own tips to share, please do so in the comment section below. You can ask me questions too as it is not impossible that I forgot to share something which is totally cool or helpful.

The whole experience, I must say, was a good way to train my two older children how to be more responsible, disciplined and thinkers or observers. I just watched them the whole time with much amazement grew or mature in a positive way. I saw them adapt to our situation and I was very pleased to observe how they processed and then reacted with the new experiences, different rules, new set-ups, and new environment. Indeed, travel or experience remains to be one of the best teachers in life.

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