When enduring a long journey with kids we tend to get a little stressed (Or I do anyway!) so I have searched the web and put together a few of ideas on how to make the journey as pleasant as possible, and keep the ‘Are We There Yet?’ questions to a minimum!
When holidaying with the kids, it’s essential to pack as lightly as possible. This way you’ll have spare hands to carry the suitcases, push the buggy and hold you’re little ones hand all at the same time!
Take clothing that is easy to wash and doesn’t get too creased. If you’re going somewhere with washing facilities, that’s great – you can keep your packing to a minimum. If not, it’s always worth taking some handwash with you just in case!
As any seasoned traveller with kids will tell you it’s also vital to make sure you pack various bits and bobs to entertain the children while on the road or in the air.
When your flight’s been delayed or you’re stuck on the motorway you’ll be grateful you remembered some of the following:
- Paper pads and crayons
- Mp3 Player
- Books (including puzzle books)
- Small toys
- Electronic interactive games: annoying for the adults but keeps children entertained for ages.
- Travel games – Connect 4, draughts, Mastermind, etc.
- Play dough – great on train journey
There are a couple other cool ideas you could do to keep your kiddies entertained throughout.
- Give them a Camera- (a child friendly one) this will give them time to take in their surroundings leaving you to do the same.
- Be App-y – Thanks to toddler-friendly apps, there’s no need to cram the whole toy box into your hand luggage when travelling by plane
- Encourage them to keep a travel journal- For the older children
For very long haul trips it’s a good idea to buy a few cheap ‘pocket money’ toys from the local toyshop before you leave. Wrap them up and pop them into your hold luggage so you can introduce a new ‘present’ for your child to open at intervals during the flight – hopefully the novelty of something to open and a new toy to play with will keep them entertained for a good portion of your flight!
And remember: there is no wrath quite like that of a child whose parent has forgotten their favourite soft toy! If your child has a special toy they really like to have with them at night be sure to pack it – it will help them settle to sleep on long flights and comfort them in unfamiliar hotel beds. Some children also like to have familiar smells around them so you could pack a couple of pillowcases from home to use in the hotel, too.
Try these Games on the road:
I Spy: The classic.
Guess the Animal: Someone thinks of an animal, others ask questions about that animal – can it fly? is it wild? To which the person can only answer yes or no. Or the person describes the animal and everyone else has to guess what it is.
Spotter’s Badge: Everybody has to look out for a certain list of objects. The most common ones (blue signs on a motorway, silver cars) get 2 points, then the more infrequent (caravans, pylons) get 5 points etc..
The Alphabet Game: Think of an easy category (like names, or places or animals) and then find a word for every letter of the alphabet. For example, if it was names, the first person might say Anna, the second Bill, and so on.
Word Association: Be as free as you like. The first person says apple, second person says banana, third person says monkey, etc. You can also play a version where you have to try to work back to the first word.
Just A Minute: Just like the Radio 4 quiz game. Talk for one minute with no hesitation, deviation or repetition. Children are surprisingly good at this.
Sausages: One person has to answer people’s questions answering only with the word ‘sausages’. Everyone has to think of the silliest questions they can ask to try to make that person laugh or smile when they say it. If they do, they are no longer it, and the person who asked the question takes over.
The Pub Game: look for pub signs and see how long it takes you to collect 5 heads, 10 arms and 20 legs. To do this, you simply count the number of legs and arms depicted on the pub sign, or in the name: ie, the Queen’s Head; the Phoenix and Falcon (4 legs) etc.
The Number Plate Game: look at the nearest number plate for the first group of three letters. The first letter is the initial of the person’s name; the second is where they come from, and the third is the job they do..
The No ‘yeses’ or ‘nos’ Game: You ask one person questions to which they can answer anything except yes or no. If they say yes or no they are out and it’s someone else’s turn. (What’s your name? Anna. Are you sure?)
Travelling with kids doesn’t need to be too stressful, here are some more useful tips:
- For going absolutely anywhere, even on a short trip, you could keep a small bag (not a big changing bag) with essential bits at all times: a calpol sachet, a couple of wipes, a nappy, some kitchen towel, savlon, plasters and a plastic bag. If going by car, it can easily be left in your boot if not needed.
- When you’re going on holiday, encourage your children to find out about where you’re going. Let everyone choose one activity or visit on the holiday.
- Hang on to bits and pieces from the holiday as keepsakes: tickets, brochures, a couple of postcards etc. Might be good for your children to make something out of when they get home or Show & Tell at school or nursery.
- If you’re going on holiday with another family, make sure you discuss the basics before you go – for example what everyone wants to do, whether you’ll all stick together each day or whether you’ll spend time doing things apart, what you’ll do for meals etc. You don’t want to fall out over a misunderstanding that could have been discussed beforehand.
- For young children, even if they are generally good walkers, it’s often a good idea to still take a buggy. It’s always useful for carrying your bags and is good if they need a rest or get tired in a restaurant.
- If flying, check the latest restrictions on hand luggage before travelling. Regulations on carrying liquids etc can include baby foods, drinks and made up formula.
- If going somewhere hot on holiday, make sure you children have enough drinks throughout the day. Children are particularly prone to dehydration and they often can’t tell if they are thirsty. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you should also make sure you’re well hydrated.