Anyone who has children will understand that travelling with them on long trips can be difficult at times. It’s understandable that kids don’t exactly love to travel, especially young toddlers. It can be hard work to keep them happy and entertained as well as making the trip as stress free and enjoyable as possible for yourself.
Below are some top tips for travelling with your kids and how to make things that little bit easier. Each trip that you take will be different and some little dramas are going to be unavoidable, but this should give you a little confidence boost.
Things you probably SHOULD do
First things first, before you take a vacation or short trip, it is important to explain to your child where they are going and why. If they are old enough to understand, then you can try and tell your children some of the exciting things and ‘rewards’ that they are going to get by enduring the travelling. Don’t make the journey sound boring though, make it fun and part of the adventure!
When you talk to your children about the upcoming trip, keep things simple. Consider outlining the highlights and bulleted points of what the trip itself and the travel will be like. What can they expect? What will happen once you arrive?
Make the journey fun, but calm. Try using fun activities like crossword puzzles, books, drawing and family games to pass the time. Avoid games with lots of shouting or running around. The activities you bring need to be small enough to fit into your child’s rucksack so choose travel friendly games.
Apps and entertainment are a great way to pass the time. OK, so not everyone wants their child to be sat in front of a computer screen, but a little bit of movie watching on your phone or a tablet device is fine now and again.
A good selection of travel friendly apps and games are available with a quick google search. Load them up on your device in advance to save any hassle during your journey.
If you have to fly and your child is scared of this means of transport, try role playing pretend games with them to encourage them to have fun. For example, let them pretend to be a pilot and fly an aircraft every now and again from the safety of the sofa at home before you go. Keep things cheerful and relaxed.
Keep your calm! If your child senses that you are nervous, this is going to make them nervous too. Try calming techniques to help with any last minute nerves. The better you are feeling about the situation, the more calm your kids will feel.
Arriving on time or early to catch your flight will make all of the difference. You need to stay one step ahead of things as much as possible. Being late is just going to place additional stress on your and your children.
Organizing your travel essentials the night before is key here. Keep everything loaded up in the hallway ready to go and you’ll find that things are a lot easier to manage. You can then wake up, dress, eat and leave the house.
Keeping everyone comfortable is a real winner. If you bundle your kids up, they are likely to get a temperature and feel ill. If you don’t put enough clothing on them, they are going to feel chilly at some point in the journey. Try providing clothing layers that your children can take on and off as they need to.
Lastly, planning your hotel well in advance is essential. You don’t want to arrive and find out that you’ve not booked enough rooms or that you have forgotten something. A quick search will reveal expedia secret hotels, and give you a good starting point for budget travel.
Things you probably SHOULDN’T do
So, there are also a few things that you probably shouldn’t do when travelling. Most of these are really obvious, but can be difficult to remember when travel mania sets in.
Think healthy! It can be tempting to let your kids have whatever they want to eat when you are travelling. Throwing them a chocolate bar or a snack isn’t going to help for long though, as when that sugar rush kicks in, you’re in trouble!
If you have time to plan in advance, then chop up some healthy fruits, carrot sticks, celery and peppers. This could be a great way to help keep younger ones happy during longer car journeys.
Another thing to remember is that although you will be feeling stressed, you shouldn’t take that out on your kids. Travelling is hard on everyone at times and by creating a big scene and yelling, you are just adding fuel to the fire. Try a firm approach with detailed explanations of why they can’t have something.
It is important to keep reminding the kids the reason you are travelling. You should regularly point out that you are on your way to a place where they will have lots of fun, instead of backing down.
Avoid playing loud music and video games with the sound up. You don’t want to cause other passengers any stress. Instead, give everyone their own headphones so that they can listen to whatever they choose. Small earbud headphones are cheap and perfect for travelling but for kids you might want to try some over the ear headphones in smart styles and colors.
Avoid gum and sticky sweets! Avoid anything sticky that is going to have your child either creating a mess or needing to take a bathroom break every five minutes to wash their hands or face. Bring some wet wipes or tissues on every trip, just in case though.
With all of that in mind, just try to enjoy your time travelling together as a family and cherish these moments. You will (hopefully!) be able to look back on them one day with fondness, however crazy they might seem at the time. Be as patient as possible and get your planning right and things will always be that little bit easier than you anticipate.