What’s the best way to travel with kids? Truth is, there isn’t one answer that applies to all scenarios - it greatly depends on your destination, and your kids (you know them best). That said, there are some general tips we can share based on our own travels. Check out these handy lists of pros and cons for travelling with a train, plane, and ship to help you come to a decision.
Benefits of travelling by plane with kids
- Faster mode of travel (on paper).
- There are some sweet benefits if you collect enough air miles (hello more holidays!)
- Under twos travel for free on most airlines.
- The excitement of flying can keep the kids entertained – it’s an experience in itself.
Disadvantages of travelling by plane with kids
- Long waiting times and potentially, delays.
- Tight space on board; under twos sit on your lap unless you buy an extra seat.
- Limited luggage allowance; strict on what you can take on board.
- Can be more expensive – while there are plenty of low cost flights available, the add ons to cover travelling with a baby (and all the gear needed) ramps up the price really quickly.
- Getting through security is a nightmare.
- Airports can get crazy busy.
- Flight schedules are often not the best for young kids (think early flights or too late).
- Ear pain – flying can get uncomfortable (and sometimes also painful) for babies and young children.
Benefits of travelling by train with kids
- Plenty of things to see along the way.
- More spacious than an airplane – some trains offer the option to book seats with additional space for babies and children.
- No long lines for security checks.
- No need to wear seatbelts – you and your little one are also free to walk up and down the length of the train on your trip.
- If your trip includes an overnight lag, you can book a room with a bed and bathroom.
- Easier to board with a stroller, when compared to a plane.
- No weight restrictions, as long as you can carry the luggage yourself.
Disadvantages of travelling by train with kids
- Some seats face each other – which can be awkward if strangers have taken up the seats in front of you. They might also not appreciate sharing a table with a toddler or younger child.
- You cannot book a seat in advance – seating is generally on a first-come first-served basis and it’s not always possible to find space for the family to sit together.
- Longer travelling times, compared to flying. However, screening and boarding is faster than airports, so do take that into consideration when analysing your options.
- Potential delays while on board – every mode of transport experiences delays, but spending precious holiday hours stuck on an unmoving train is a serious damper.
Benefits of travelling by ship with kids
- So much easier to pack! There are no luggage weight restrictions and no worrying about lost luggage either. You can load everything in your car and unload it once you arrive at your destination.
- You can use your own trusted car seats throughout your entire trip. Rented baby gear isn’t always in tip top condition.
- A ferry is more spacious than an airplane, and in most cases, you can even take a quick stroll with your little one.
- Easier travel if your pets are joining the trip.
- Lots of pretty sites as you enter and exit ports.
Disadvantages of travelling by ship with kids
- Seasickness. This is a big one, especially if you experience choppy seas. There’s plenty of medication for the adults, but kids are more limited. Anti-sickness wrist bands aren’t the most effective.
- Higher probability of cancellations due to bad weather.
- It might take longer to arrive at your destination – however, there’s less waiting at gates, so you should take that into consideration, too.
- Limited destination options.
So, which is best?
Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. That said, we do have a preference when it comes to travelling with kids. Ships take the prize – the ease of boarding with your car, the luggage space, using your own car seats and boosters and having ample space for the kids to roam about while on board are all great perks. But it’s not possible to arrive at all destinations by sea, so the choice is rather limited (as long as you don’t mind very long drives to additional destinations).
Bottom line is, no method is perfect and whichever option you choose, with some preparation and grounded expectations, travelling with kids is more than doable. It can get stressful (always) but the memories make it all worthwhile!
If we’ve convinced you to book the trip your family has been dreaming of, head to our home for more family travel tips, support and family friendly city guides. Check out our most loved travel gear products and gadgets from brands we trust.
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