Travelling with kids is never as straightforward as we’d like it to be, but that shouldn’t overshadow the prospects that accompany any child’s first time away from home. Unfortunately, it’s not all down to making a few toilet stops and keeping them entertained with a favourite cartoon.
Image by Sankara Subramanian
There’s more to travelling with kids than just making sure they’re entertained of course, as you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies with you including medicines, clothing, passports etc. A holiday with children should include a heavy checklist, so make sure you take time out to go over everything you’ll need.
If you’re not looking forward to the idea of keeping an eye on your children every step of the journey, we’ve put together a set of top tips for travelling with young kids that is sure to keep you organised as well as encourage less tantrums and plenty more joyous memories that you’ll treasure for years to come.
Kids are prone to injuries even at home, so taking them abroad or on a long car journey somewhere out in the open definitely requires a first aid kit.
You can build your own customised first aid kit to suit the needs of your children, while some of the necessities should include plasters, painkillers (preferably as syrup) and antihistamines for any surprise allergic reactions.
If you’re travelling somewhere where malaria is common, you can get hold of anti-malaria medication in syrup form as well.
Children will always be just as mesmerised by the prospect of going on a journey as you will, so they should have the opportunity to log their experiences in a journal. You can encourage your kids to draw or list some of the things they’ve seen or perhaps the new types of food they’ve tried.
They can also use journals to keep souvenirs such as stamps that they collect from their holiday. Hopefully they will refer to their travel journal for many years to come once the holiday is over.
What’s more, travel journals almost act as an academic substitute to the work they might be doing in school at the time and they may even decide to take their journal with them to school on the first day back.
You should try and make sure that there are numerous activities available to get involved in throughout the journey, from small puzzles and colouring books to miniature board games and audio books of favourite books at home. Many books these days may come with an accompanying CD that not only follows the book but also includes activities to do which can help pass the time on a long car journey such as the Julia Donaldson classic Stick Man.
These help to pass the time when on a particularly long journey, whether it’s by car, train or plane. Once you notice a child has started to lose interest in a toy, introduce something new for them to play with. Try not to throw all the toys at them in one go as they are more likely to lose interest.
Savoury Snacks – Not Sweets!
Sweets are the easy way out when it comes to keeping a child fed on a journey and they aren’t particularly good for health. Instead of feeding your children sweets on the journey, bring along some bagels, breadsticks, sandwiches or fruit with you that they have enjoyed in the past.
There’s no point bringing foods they haven’t eaten before as they probably won’t eat them, so make sure you bring foods that are easily recognisable.
You should give yourself a lengthy amount of time to renew a passport before travelling as children’s passports run out after five years. It’s quite common for people to forget to renew passports before travelling and last-minute passports can cost you huge amounts, so make sure you know exactly what you need way before the date of travelling.
While you probably keep mobile phone games and apps as treats for your children, they prove to be extremely useful when looking to keep children engaged on long journeys. They act as substitutes for toy boxes and various board games that require taking out and assembling, so they help to reduce the amount you need to take with you. The Toca Boca apps in addition to the CBeebies app are great for pre-schoolers and provide a good balance of education plus fun elements.
These compact devices are excellent for travelling, although you should consider bringing alternative forms of entertainment to stop a child from being on a device for hours on end. If they are too addictive they can distract them for the entire holiday as well as the journey.
If you give a child their own child-friendly camera to keep with them on holiday, they are far more likely to focus on their surroundings and inherit new interests.
Children are capable of snapping all kinds of photos on holiday, including animals, plants, views and more. You can then keep the photos that have been taken and store them in a memorable photo album.
If you’re going somewhere that’s notorious for cold weather or isn’t likely to offer much shade from the sun, you’ll need to come equipped with all the required clothing to keep children comfortable depending on the terrain.
If you haven’t already done so, go through what you already have and then make sure you visit a shopping centre to get hold of all the necessary clothing in the appropriate sizes.
Keep Track of Them
Travelling with children can be quite daunting at times, especially when you start venturing through unknown parts of a new country or an airport where it can be particularly busy. It’s a good idea to write your mobile number or alternative contact information on a child’s arm or item of clothing in case you do lose track of them in a large crowd.
Take Your Time
There’s no need to rush when on holiday with children, whether they’re in a good mood or not.
Time tends to fly when you’re heavily occupied, so whether you’re relaxing with a bit of sightseeing or watching planes fly over at the airport, give your children the time they need to digest the new, exciting environment and let them explore new places as often as they can.
There’s no better way to stay calm when there are toilet stops, tantrums and other expected things to worry about.