Summer is here and holidays beckon. Let’s face it travelling with kids can potentially be really stressful, but there are ways to make travel with children easy and less of an ordeal. George at Asda asked me for my top tips. All of these have worked for us as a family.
21 easy tips for travelling with kids
1. Give yourself plenty of time. Make sure what you need first is packed at the top. Personally, I prefer to take charge of the packing for myself and my son. My other half can take care of himself and we avoid duplication or worse forgotten items.
2. Travelling with a baby for the first time can be daunting, you may feel you need to literally take the kitchen sink. My top tip would be plan; mentally work your way through your baby’s day and write a checklist of essential items. Pack to the checklist and then keep it for future reference, makes packing the next time a little less overwhelming.
3. Anything that makes life easier when travelling with little ones is worth it. There are someand it really is worth investing in a sling for the airport, a light weight buggy or a go-anywhere blackout blind.
4. Nappies are bulky, pack a few and buy them locally.
5. Expect babies to be curious and exited about new surroundings. Much as you might like them to drift off to an early sleep on the first night, while you crack open a bottle of wine, be prepared to let go of the usual routine and go with the flow.
6. Don’t forget that special toy and label it with a phone number. Lost toys are a disaster.
7. The bag of wonder. Pack a few small toys, old familiar ones and new surprises in a bag. Don’t hand over the whole bag, string it out. Produce one item per hour (sooner or later depending on attention span) to keep little ones entertained.
8. Toddlers love to toddle. Backpacks with a strap attached are great for giving both a sense of independence and keeping hold of them. The backpack is also the perfect place to store that favourite cuddly toy.
9. Bring out the electronics: Download audio stories onto an MP3 player.
10. Portable DVD players and a favourite film.
11. Small console; like an Nintendo and a few games in a sealed plastic pot to keep them together and safe.
12. Car games. Google it. There are many. Start with simple i-spy. We love ‘animal alphabet’; everyone has to think of an animal beginning with the same letter, you are out when you can’t think of animal/bird/fish beginning with the chosen letter.
13. Airports and airlines are used to coping with children and most have good excellent customer service to make things easier. For example, Gatwick has a whole page on it’s website with help. There are some great tips here. Flying with children is easier than you might expect.
14. Simple things; a packet of coloured pens, colouring, sticker or activity books work so well on trains. If you can, book a seat with a table, most companies offer this. Long distance trains have seat trays, perfect for crayons, sketch pad and a ‘Where’s Wally?’ book.
15. Obvious, but often forgotten with the stress of packing and getting away on time; check road watch websites, download an app or put traffic info mode on in the car radio. Some traffic jams are unavoidable, but with children, the last thing you want is to be stuck in non-moving traffic. Knowing what’s ahead can give you the option to delay, re-route or simply pull into services anything rather sit in a tail back.
16. Schedule in frequent stops, makes the journey that bit longer but gives everyone a break and change of scene.
17. Break up your journey. Foot to the floor, music and hours of road ahead can be quite appealing to single people… With kids, less so. Break it up with an overnight stop. A few hours drive? Call in to a National Trust Garden. Spend a couple of hours, have lunch or a cream tea, wear out small people with a run around and spend a couple of hours somewhere pretty.
18. Time journey’s with sleeps. Or head off after the rush hour, at bedtime. PJ’s, blankets, sleep heads and hopefully, less traffic.
General travelling tips
19. Water in sip top bottles, rather than cap screw top. Less likely to spill and isn’t sticky.
20. Snacks in small pots, saves on split packets. Different pots of bite size snacks every so often keeps small people distracted from “Are we nearly there yet”.
21. Music doesn’t have to be One Direction or mind-numbing; ‘The Wheels on the bus’. There are compromises. As a family we all loved, 1 Best of the Beatles, my then 3 year old knew all the words to ‘Yellow Submarine’. Currently, he loves rocking out to Queen hits. Motown compilations make great sing along tunes.
These are my top tips for easy travelling with kids. What would be yours? Happy travelling.