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! We are often asked at Kids on Track about pitfalls of long travel of all varieties and so here is our 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 and supervise or allow them to be responsible as appropriate - that way you can't be blamed for forgetting to bring their favourite.... Make sure at the same time they understand exactly what is going to happen. If you are travelling on a plane this includes all the stages at the airport and if they travel regularly - it is worth reminding even teenagers what they can and can not bring - that should reduce the stress for all concerned.
2) Sleep : This is disrupted even for adults when travelling. However, if possible with little ones, try to keep them as close to their 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.
3) Food: Make sure you have more than you think you would ever need. The easiest things to use are things that pack easily and are self contained. Some obvious ones 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.
4) Entertainment: 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; sodoku and wordsearches can work well if your teenager is so inclined! Finally, make sure you have enough pens, paper, crayons to go around - individual packs for each child's bag work wonders.
5) Helpful Hints of things to remember : Wipes - even adults need them; Be friendly to those around you if you aren't in your own car. smile and say hello so if later you need a hand they are more inclined to help ( or not to get upset if your child is sick or unhappy!); If you are on a plane try and get an aisle seat - it gives you extra room and means there is no one for your child to climb over apart from you when they want to explore!; Travel Sickness Remedies - this can be relevant for all forms of travel.
Wishing you all safe and happy travels on your next trip!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!