Tips for a relaxed family trip

5 tips to prevent family trips ending in a pout

Before we begin, a disclaimer: These tips don't come with a guarantee. Your trip may well end in a pout.

Maybe because a pizza wasn't sliced just right, because a stick was thrown away too soon, or maybe just because you went past a kiosk (past! What were you thinking!). But anyway: Have fun!

Tip #1: Make plans. Yes, planning is fussy, boring and unadventurous, but it's essential, especially for small children. Which doesn't mean that you shouldn’t change plan A if on the spur of the moment, plan B turns out to be better – but plan A should be in place before you leave the house. Why? Because children who have spent two days enjoying an adventure playground won’t understand why it’s closed today. And most of all, why nobody googled it first.

Tip #2: Communication. Tell your children what to expect, and what not to. Kids will hardly be able to hide their disappointment about the Rothko exhibition if they've been expecting trampolines and gummy bears. And be careful with the word “surprise”. Kids will expect a flying unicorn that farts candy. In that case, as a parent, you just can't win.

Tip #3: Junk food. “Speak softly, and always carry enough candy” – to paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt, whose approach to foreign policy also applies well to your own, domestic one. A well-timed gummy bear can prevent epic temper tantrums or get the diplomatic ball rolling during tricky negotiations (“yes, we are getting on this tram now!”). Fun fact: Teddy Roosevelt had six kids. One of them called Kermit. No kidding.

Tip #4: Bring a change of clothes. Even if it means you end up pushing a buggy around the neighborhood that looks like a New York bag lady’s: do it! Packing light when you travel might seem cool, but can bring a trip with small children to a premature end. For example, if your child discovers a fountain. Or pours the syrup all over themselves. Or starts messing around with the holy water at the Liebfrauenkirche. Amen.

Tip #5: Humor. Of course, it's a cliché, just like the good mood you're supposed to bring with you, but sometimes, in the din of packing, travel and entertainment stress, you can forget that you are really there “just for fun”. When pooptastrophe hits in a traffic jam and you notice you've used the last nappy to wipe up the spilled syrup, gallows humor can be a lifesaver.

An article by:
I’m a freelance media professional and mother of three living in the Zurich region. On, I write about travel, finding a balance and not being able to have it all. The blog is aimed at people with children and anyone who enjoys plain speaking.
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