Generally speaking, travelling anywhere can be stressful, no matter how many times you’ve ventured away from home. If you add children to the mix and you’re unprepared, you could potentially be setting yourself up for an incredible amount of stress, hassle, and a potential spoiling of your vacation plans.

However, travelling with kids doesn’t have to be a hassle and, in fact, it can be one of the best experiences you can have as a family. If you plan ahead, cover all your bases, and pay close attention to the needs and wants of your children, you can find the right balance between rest time, fun activities, and an enjoyable vacation.

Here are five must-know tips when travelling with children.

1. Take It Slow and Know Your Family

Being patient and taking your time is perhaps the most crucial piece of advice when travelling with children. This means cutting both your fellow travellers and your family members some slack when things go awry or your plans become affected by things out of your control. One good way to plan this process meticulously is with the help of a professional travel agent, and they’ll be able to help you plan your dream vacation every step along the way.

They say patience is a virtue and this is even more so true when travelling with kids. New environments and new experiences are always exciting, so make sure you’re open to and prepared for both exciting highs and tantrum-driven lows.

2. Give Yourself Extra Time

No matter how hard you try to be early or avoid delays, not everything always goes according to plan. Things are often even more complicated when travelling with children. Although you may have previously travelled solo or with loved ones and made it just in time for boarding, repeating the same feat with crying kids is not going to work.

This is why giving yourself extra time to clear security and to comfortably make it to your gate is a no-brainer. If you arrive with an hour or two to spare, you have to kill time at your gate, but you can calmly go about all the standard airport processes.

In addition, travelling with children gives you the added benefit of early boarding and if you miss that call, you may have some trouble comfortably boarding with your loved ones. By being at your gate early, you won’t miss those magic words and will be able to grab the kids and make a break for it. This means you have a few extra minutes to get the kids settled and actually secure overhead compartment space for any belongings your family may require.

3. Pack Smart

Many travellers have perfected the art of packing, but travelling with children presents its own set of complex challenges.

Firstly, depending on their age, the kids may actually want to be in charge of what they bring with them when travelling. Whether it’s a favourite stuffed animal or a particular piece of clothing, kids don’t always prioritize the same travel essentials or in-case-of-emergency items as adults. However, giving them the responsibility of packing on their own makes for a great lesson and can help them be more confident in travelling.

For younger children, packing little surprises may help them deal with long-haul flights and being in new situations. Whether it’s a fun travel snack or a surprise activity, keeping your kids occupied and content will make your travelling experience that much easier. Try making little goodie bags with small toys or activities and give them to your kids when they start feeling a bit restless.

4. Do a Test Run

Before going off on a long family vacation, perhaps try starting small and plan shorter day trips to get a gauge of how well your children can travel. Small weekends away are a great way to figure out packing choices, logistical timings, and how well everyone gets along.

5. Make Memories

Although the logistics of family vacations may seem stressful, the memories your kids will make far outweigh any tedious security checkpoint. Consider giving your child a journal or a cheap digital camera to document their experience. In the end, you should always prioritize your family’s happiness and the making of meaningful memories.