You CAN enjoy travelling with the kids
Keeping little ones happy, lugging cases and making sure you don’t miss your plane can be a juggle. Here are five tips to de-stress your getaway.
1. Plan pitstops along the way
Look at your route and allow extra travelling time to stop for loo breaks and the opportunity for the children to run around and let off steam. Many motorway service stations have indoor play areas within sight of café tables so you can have a coffee and the kids can stretch out. If your route doesn’t go past service stations, look for picnic areas just off the roads you plan to take. Is there a bridge over a river you can stop and look at, or a nearby village with a playground?
TIP If most of your luggage is packed in the boot, keep a bag of handy travel essentials like drinks, snacks and wipes in the car so you don’t have to spend ages digging out what you need by the side of the road.
2. Let your kids organise their holiday packing
OK that might not mean completely giving up checks that clothes are in cases and toiletries are safely stowed – that’s your job! But even small children can enjoy putting things in order, so get a piece of paper and ask them to draw or write all the things they want to take – teddy, books, favourite DVDs. Then on the day give them their own little rucksacks and let them tick off all these things as they pack.
TIP In addition to their toys and favourite things, be sure your own bag has a few good basics, eg: a small pack of tissues, a few cookies in a tub, an extra dummy if you baby uses one, and hair clips.
3. Keep things cosy in the car
However you’re travelling, make sure the kids feel comfortable. If you’re travelling by car and they want to wear their PJs and slippers, why not? Just have a coat and slip-on shoes handy to jump out for toilet breaks. If you’re going by train or plane, leggings and loose tops are a little smarter but still feel like pyjamas. Travelling isn’t a good time to take a much-loved comfort pillow that might get lost, but it’s worth taking a light, soft blanket that can be wrapped round them or laid out for an impromptu picnic.
TIP If there’s room, let the kids make a ‘den’ in the back of the car. They could use coats or a blanket to create a dark tent or set up cuddlies as their loyal servants in their fantasy country – ‘Backseatland’! Just make sure their ‘tent’ doesn’t obscure your rear view mirror eyeline.
4. Charge your phone and pre-load fun apps
There are brilliant games and activities for all ages, from baby-friendly apps playing lullabies to puzzles and movies for older kids. Many of these are free and downloadable so you don’t have to have wifi to enjoy them on the go. Remember to take headphones so older children can tune in and zone out. The wait for your boarding gate number will pass in no time!
TIP Travelling is a good time to surprise the kids with a new picture or story book. Keep it secret until you’re at the airport or on the train so it’s a fresh pleasure for everyone.
5. Travel games for kids
Before you set off, get the kids to draw their own bingo cards with words or pictures of things they might see along the roadside – cow, policeman, bicycle, postbox, castle! Give them a pencil and get them to cross these off as they go. Or take their mind off hours in traffic by playing simple games like how many different kinds of vehicle they can spot in five minutes or for older kids, predicting what cargo lorries are carrying before they drive past.
TIP Make a favourite songs playlist on your music player or burn a CD compilation on your computer so you can have a singalong.
For more ideas check out these car games for kids
Keeping your holiday in order
We’ve got lots of useful tips and ideas to help you plan ahead, so that when you’re heading for sun and sand, you can relax from the moment you leave home.
• Savvy travel check list – essentials to remember
• First aid travel – things to pack and ways to keep the family safe and well while you’re away
• Family travel insurance – what to look for to get the best cover for your trip