In my travels over the last couple of weeks, I have been reminded of the good, bad and the ugly of travelling with children, both big and small.
There are pitfalls of long travel of all varieties and so here is my guide to stress free travel with your children from babies to teenagers:
1. Involve them:
Treat the journey as part of the adventure of the holiday. Tell them what is expected. Let them pack their own bag for the journey or allow them to be responsible as appropriate – that way, you can't be blamed for forgetting to bring their favourite!
At the same time, make sure they understand exactly what is going to happen. If you are travelling on a plane, this includes all of the airport stages, and if they travel regularly, it is worth reminding even teenagers what they can and cannot bring. This should reduce the stress for all concerned.
If possible with little ones, try to keep them as close to their regular sleep routine as possible. On long haul flights, it is worth getting children up to about aged 10 into pyjamas at the time they should be sleeping. Explain to older children and teenagers about time differences and jet lag if appropriate and try to get onto the time of where you are going as soon as practicable.
Make sure you explain to them that resting is as important as sleeping if they aren't able to sleep immediately! Most importantly, sleep when your children are sleeping or else you will be exhausted.
Make sure you have more than what you think you will ever need. The easiest things to use are things that pack easily and are self contained. Some obvious choices would be raisin boxes or cheese sticks. Ziplock bags are a great way to ensure that your children can have some healthy options or at least not eat whole bags of crisps or sweets when you would like to have some portion control. When it comes to drinks, sports bottles or sippy cups make much less mess than cartons.
Whatever screen type you choose for your child on a long journey in whatever quantities, don't forget their headphones. For younger children, another way of involving them is to download a game/ movie/ app for them specifically for the journey. This can work for primary school age children as well.
For any parents wanting to limit the screen time, there are other ideas as well. All children LOVE surprises so putting a new game or book in their bag to entertain them serves a dual purpose. For plane journeys, card games and magnetic board games for older ones and sticker books and colouring for younger ones are also options. Crosswords, sudoku and word searches can work well if your teenager is so inclined. Finally, make sure you have enough pens, paper, crayons to go around.
5. Helpful Hints:
Wipes – even adults need them.
If you are on a plane, try and get an aisle seat as it gives you extra room and means there is no one else for your child to climb over.
Pack travel sickness remedies.
Wishing you all safe and happy travels on your next trip!