Family holiday travel tips and advice – travelling with kids.

by on 25th September, 2013

Travel advice for a family holiday

This week, Andean Trails‘ Kathy Jarvis and Sarah Bennett from Azores Choice share their family travel experiences and top travel tips with kids.


Kathy writes:

“When my son, who is now aged 6-years-old, was about to turn one we went to Peru for a month. He spent his first birthday in Cusco, Peru, where he was the centre of attention from his many aunts and cousins out there, who organised an amazing birthday party. At one, he wasn’t really bothered where he was, he loved a party and enjoyed chasing pigeons across the plazas.

On our next trip to South America, Lewis was just two. We were travelling with avid botanists on a plant hunting trip, so visited Bariloche, San Martin, Pucon, Conguilliio national park and Torres del Paine in Patagonia. This involved several buses and 11 flights, so he rapidly became a dab hand at boarding planes, seatbelts, running up and down aisles etc. He had a ball, with just one major melt down when we had to get off a bus we’d just got on, after realising it wasn’t the right bus… duh – silly mum.


Keep them busy

But that threw him – a last minute change of plan. It made me realise the importance of telling the kids what’s happening next. The highlight of that trip was chasing guanacos across the Patagonian pampas and getting up really close to a pygmy owl and condors. We slept in dorm rooms in the mountain huts of Torres del Paine, he loved it and all that fresh air and exercise meant he was pretty tired by the time dinner was over.

Another favourite was poking at the lizards as they fled down their lava holes in the spectacular landscapes of Conguillio park. We backpacked him up mountains and through Auracaria forests.

Subsequent trips have seen us fishing and horse riding at age four at 4,200 metres in the Ausangate mountains,  poking grass at the guinea-pigs in Pisac market, screeching at the monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon, jumping up and down in excitement at  seeing marine iguanas spit salt (he knew all about that from Octanauts – Cbeebies has its uses!), wading flooded streets after flash rainstorms in the Galapagos & demolishing mountains of ice-cream wherever we go – South America does ice-cream well.

Family Holiday Sierra Negra Volcan Chico Isabela Galapagos

Sierra Negra Volcano, Galapagos


Kathy’s top tips

My top tips for travelling to South America with young kids and older children:


1. Use some local transport – there is usually plenty of interaction.

2. Take some toys, but not too many. Best for us, at 2-years-old, was a collection of plastic animals, that we added local animals to as we went along. A fleet of toy cars worked well at 4-years-old – great for playing with other kids we met along the way, easy to add to.

3. DVDs and a laptop / tablet help a lot with entertainment from about age 3 at airports. But we still take colouring books and coloured pencils and they are good to share with other kids.

4. Take some special snacks: a favourite cereal, raisins, some muesli bars and bread sticks. You can’t always rely on getting child-friendly snacks..

5. Spend time going to places where there will be other kids – play parks and swimming pools – the kids don’t mind that they can’t speak the same language.

6. Pack a comprehensive first-aid kit .

It is probably best to put your own together, include: any medicines the family need, a thermometer, pain relief for adults and kids, plasters, antiseptic cream, bandages, dressings, wipes, tape, tweezers, insect repellent and anti-histamines (cream and pills), anti-inflamatories, rehydration powders, broad spectrum anti biotic for stomach infections.

I’d say that all of the South American countries are more child-friendly than UK – restaurants are often better prepared and children are out and about more with adults. Many restaurants will hand out crayons and various toys. Travelling with children is increasingly popular and we’ve developed some excellent tours specifically for families with kids of all ages.


inflatable canoes family holiday Peru

Inflatable canoes family holiday Peru



Sarah Bennett, co founder of Azores Choice says:


….. travelling with kids tips:


1. Don’t take them! (only joking)

2. For long journeys – take games (ours love top trumps, UNO card games) and audio books. When we’re in our camper van, that keeps them occupied for hours.

3. If you’ve got car hire, check the car seat requirements – certainly the Azores seem to be more stringent than the UK and reserve or take your own.

4. Teach them a few words of the language of the country they are in. Just hello, goodbye, please, thank you and a few numbers makes them feel more confident and it’s great teaching them words that they can use with native speakers rather than practising in class at school.

5. Don’t forget to pack the favourite teddy, blanket, book etc.

6. Plan a swimming opportunity into most days.

7. Book a property without a television. It’s so nice not to be asked if they can watch it as they know it really is impossible

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