Every year when the holidays roll around, it’s almost inevitable that a journey of some kind will be undertaken. You might be driving half an hour to visit the family on the holidays or travelling for twenty hours on a plane to see relatives overseas. Whatever your journey, if you’re travelling with children you need to be prepared.
Travelling with kids is something that can be a pleasure, provided you have all the tools on hand to keep them stimulated and entertained. Ten years ago things were a little harder; we only had eye spy and other car games to play. Now there’s all manner of hand-held devices on the market, and they are perfect for keeping the little ones occupied. Of course, for longer journeys you’ll need to have a little more structure in place than just a couple of movies or games on the iPad…
This guide is designed to help you plan for a car or plane journey with children.
1. Games, activities, kid entertainment. Whatever you want to call it, you’ll want to pack what you think is enough kids games and entertainment material for the duration of the trip, and then double it. A good idea is to involve your child in helping to choose the items that they want to bring and then letting them packit all into a special backpack. This way they can begin to get excited for their journey and it also helps them to feel like they’re in charge. Don’t forget to pack some extra surprises to pull out along the way! Some good material to pack includes favourite books (including colouring ones), crayons or pencils, personal DVD players with some preloaded favourites, and an iPad or tablet with games and applications. Don’t forget to pack headphones for private listening, and if you get noise cancelling headphones, this can also help kids to sleep on planes or in cars.
2. Prior to the journey think about teaching them a new song or car game to play. There are many kids games for car travel, like eye spy and traffic games. This can be a novel and interesting way for kids to engage with what’s going on around them.
3. If you have the time, pick a few kids or children’s entertainment spots on your travel route. This can be a great way to break up the monotony of the journey and give you a chance for a walk and a stretch.
4. Pack an extra map and some stickers or pens for kids to map their journey. If they’re old enough (and you’re travelling by car) you might like to let your kids choose some interesting stops along the way.
5. Comfort toys. If your child has a blanket, rag, nappy, toy or other comforting item: pack it! This can be the difference between screams and soothing and will ensure your peace of mind.
6. Snacks. This is such a vital part of your journey as it keeps your kids busy and satiated. If your child is hungry and frustrated from sitting still for so long, they may get grizzly. So ensure you have a huge selection on hand. A good place to start is by packing any favourite snacks, along with vegetable sticks, crackers and nuts, and don’t forget to pack a few sweets. Even if your child is usually a healthy snacker, lollies can be a reward for a good traveller, but not too much sugar!
7. Pack an extra change of clothes (or possibly two) and have them within easy reach. Some children can become travel sick and it can be uncomfortable and messy for both them and you. Make sure that you have all the cleaning and comfort stuff that you’ll need close to hand. This especially applies for plane travel when you don’t have the luxury of pulling over and getting out of the car!
8. Make sure you have lots of baby wipes, hand sanitizer and nappy bags. If you’re travelling by plane make sure you’re up to date with the regulations of what you can bring on board.
9. Pack a pillow and a light, comfortable blanket. If your child can sleep for some of the journey it will make the travel (and arrival) smoother as they will be rested.
10. If your kids are old enough, think about packing a small lightweight digital camera. They can make a photo journal of their trip and can be something to share with their schoolmates on the return from their trip.
Travelling needn’t be stressful, so try to enjoy it with your child as part of your their development.