Who Put Ketchup in my Good Swimming Trunks?

Sound advice on travelling with kids.  
Child Tantrums
A holiday with children could lead to moments like this—plough through them. Photo: Lubomir Simek/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)

As the father of a feisty two-year-old girl who expresses herself with energetic spontaneity every minute of every day—with a matching mother—nothing gets my goat more than parents who say that they “find it difficult to travel with small children” so “this year we are staycating in Kurla only”!

Hello! Stop blaming your children for your own lack of orga…

One second.

Sorry. She was trying to pull the baby-proofing things from the plugs in the living room. Oh the innocent curiosities of early childhood, I tell you. Keeps you on your toes. But soooo rewarding.

So what was I saying?

Oh yes. USELESS FELLOWS! PONDEROUS PARENTS! How dare you deprive your children of the joys of travel and wanderlust just because you don’t have the wherewithal to organise your trip properly. Sure, it will no longer be like the good old days when both of you could just take off on a whim and a distressed Visa card to a romantic heritage fort hotel in Rajas…

Hold on.

Hey. So cute, you won’t even believe ya! She thought that the basmati rice sack was a teddy bear and was trying to feed it milk from her old feeding bottle and she dropped the spoons by mistake. Instagrammed all of it immediately. #LittleMissMensa

So Rajasthan. Why were we talking about Rajasthan? Anyway, forget Rajasthan. (Everything is deep-fried in Rajasthan and they have exactly one folk song. Avoid.) The broader point I am trying to make is that travelling with kids is an important part of their wholesome development into good human beings. Parents should not be shirking from making the most of summer vacations. No, it isn’t going to be easy. With a little planning and organisation, you can make any number of enjoyable trips with small kids to all kinds of destinations.

The first thing you need to do is take the ages of your kids into account. A common mistake parents make is to assume that younger kids are always more difficult to WHAT IN THE NAME OF OUR LADY OF ETERNAL MALEVOLENCE WAS THAT SOUND…

Phew. Gasp. I walk into the kitchen and what do I see? She is sitting on the basmati sack stabbing it repeatedly with a knife though the first “O” of “Kohinoor”. Of course, no parent wants to see their children indulging in such activities. But the motor skills and hand-eye coordination required to hit the “O” over and over again like that is not inconsiderable especially in a two-year-old.

Indeed, that is the message I want all of you to really absorb from this piece. Optimism and a little bit of self-delusion. Those are non-negotiable requirements for parents travelling with young people.

So as I was saying, younger kids are not always a problem. Because they have no real concept of travel duration and are very easy to distract. Put my daughter in front of an iPad with an infinite Peppa Pig playlist, with a bowl of banana chips, and you can safely let her be until it is time in 2023 to pack up and leave the house before the Chinese Army reaches your neighbourhood.

With younger kids and toddlers however, you have to take into account their tendency to get tired and then cranky. They don’t really care if you are standing in the passport line in Heathrow or waiting for a table at Noma.When they want to sleep they want to sle…

Why the heck is there complete and utter silence? What is going on? Just excuse me for one minute.

Sometimes. God. I don’t. God. Look, I love my daughter. I love her. I really do. But which part of her brain looks at a bottle of talcum powder on the one hand and an Xbox 360 on the other and thinks: “Okay I think the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts?”

There is Cuticura everywhere. Inside the disk tray. Ventilation holes. Everywhere.

At this moment, the easiest thing for me to do is to lose my self-control, scream at her and vent my frustration. But will I? No! Never. See, this is precisely what you should not do when your kids do something wrong. And this is especially true when you are travelling with them. The moment you lose your cool, your holiday is finished. Your outburst will create a toxic tone for your tourism and you will spend a weekend or a week or even two weeks wallowing in negative emotions.

Thus making for precisely the kind of holiday that terrorises parents and keeps them at home. Avoid. Instead, try to cultivate a cheerful, optimistic environment right from the…

OK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I GIVE UP BOSS. I GIVE UP. YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT I DON’T CARE ANYMORE. BUT EVEN A TWO-YEAR-OLD SHOULD KNOW THAT YOU DON’T OPEN THE WASHING MACHINE WHEN IT IS IN SOAK MODE.

Sorry. Look, I don’t have a lot of time. So let me be very quick. Don’t be freaked out by your small kids. Plan your trip well and go for a really ambitious destination. Then spend a week or two in Istanbul or Cappadocia and then come back a happier and healthier family with so many great experiences.

As for expectant parents dreading the prospect of travelling with children—don’t! There is no need to. In fact, why don’t we do something. Why don’t you ask a close friend or a travel columnist if they have a two-year-old you could borrow for a week or two months? If you enjoy the experience then you are set for a lifetime of happiness and wanderlust. I cannot recommend this enough. Please, please try this.

I am available on my email address 24 hours a day.

OK WHO PUT KETCHUP IN MY GOOD SWIMMING TRUNKS???!!!

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way or form represent the views of National Geographic Traveller India.

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    Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and author of the "Dork" Trilogy and "The Sceptical Patriot". He is also a proud Keralite. He tweets as @sidin.

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