Stress-free travelling with children

Family holidays always sound like such a good idea at the time. However, without careful planning, they can quickly turn into a nightmare. I am speaking from experience! Here are just a few nifty hacks for stress-free travelling with children. I’ve picked up some ideas over the years that can help to navigate some of the more common challenges of jetting off with your little ones.

Stress-free travelling with children tips

Organisation is Key

It may seem obvious but being well prepared can make travelling with children go so much more smoothly. There will always be things that catch you off-guard but being as prepared for likely eventualities can really help you to keep your cool if/when the crisis hits.

Time – and plenty of it!

One thing to take into consideration when planning your trip is to build in lots and lots of wiggle room. Travelling with kids is great but everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, just takes about 10 times longer. Tantrums, toilet stops, wandering off – all these things eat into your travel time. Build in time for these things and accept them as part of the journey, rather than be stressing about missing a connection.

Time in breaks, especially if you’re travelling by car. Regular stops allow your kids to have run around and blow off some steam – trust me, this is good for everyone! If they tire themselves out running around then they’re more likely to sleep in the car too.

Sleeping it off

If at all possible, try to travel during your children’s natural sleeping time. This makes the journey pass faster for them and saves you having to answer the dreaded question: “are we nearly there yet?”

When travelling overnight try to stick to your kids’ usual bedtime routine as much as possible. Change them into their PJs, read them a bedtime story etc. Avoiding peak times for travel also makes it more likely that your children will be able to pinch some extra room to stretch out and sleep.

Maybe this is stating the obvious, but please do be safe when travelling overnight. Having your kids sleep through the journey is ideal but if you yourself are tired too risking to fall asleep for the sake of saving some time is not worth it. If necessary, break the journey up and make the travel part of the holiday.

Kids ID bands for safety

Especially if parents and kids are fatigued crowded places like airports can become a risk for losing each other. To prevent this from happening, consider getting kids id bands. Just write down your contact details or even flight information. Thus, you will have a much easier time in case if someone gets lost.

Keep them entertained

Nothing is more excruciating than travelling with bored children! Plan ahead and make sure you have things on hand to keep them from getting bored. It can be as simple as packing some travel games, their favourite toy or downloading some audio plays to listen to. Breaking up the journey as much as possible is also great for keeping things interesting.

Controversial, I know, but screens can be a real lifesaver when travelling with your kids. Movies or TV series can come in handy if stories just aren’t cutting it any more. The secret is to make screens a last resort – use up every other weapon in your arsenal before bringing out the iPad.

You can also play some games like “I spy” or “pick a letter and count how many times you can find it on the next number plates that pass”. Or even try “pick a car colour and count how many of your colour we see”. There are plenty of other similar games. Prima has a good list of ideas for you.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks

Not only do snacks give you the energy to get through the sometimes stressful travel experience, but they’re also a great boredom buster. Packing plenty of snacks and even a meal or two is a great way to save some pennies. You’ll find airport and service station food is extortionate! Furthermore, it also means that if hunger strikes, you can quickly shut it down before the tears kick in.

If you’re going to be flying, try and save a snack, or a feed if you’re still breastfeeding, for both take-off and landing. Eating can help kids’ ears to pop which makes the experience a bit more comfortable for them. This is especially if they’re not used to it.

Pack savvy

How much and what you pack can really make or break your enjoyment of a holiday! Bearing in mind that most likely you’ll end up with your kids’ stuff too, less definitely is more. Take time to figure out what the essentials are and then look at ways you can minimise your baggage requirements. Use luggage straps in order to find your luggage, and use the stick on name labels to easily identify clothes.

One essential thing to pack, which I used to forget, was a change of clothes for everyone. With very young or first-time travellers, there will more than likely be some kind of nappy or sicky incident requiring at least one persons’ clothes to be changed! Don’t learn this one the hard way!

Chat to your kids

Lastly, chatting to your kids about what’s going to happen on holiday can make the idea much less stressful for them. As adults we tend to take things like airport security in our stride. For a young child, being met by a stern-faced security guard who’s taken teddy away and put him in a scary dark machine can be upsetting. Making sure that your kid knows what to expect can save any unwanted airport break-downs.

Talking to your children about your destination and even letting them pick some activities goes a long way. They will feel more like they’re a part of it. Having a rough itinerary planned out is definitely a good idea. However, be sure to leave a bit of wiggle room for any unexpected situations as well as spontaneity like toilet or sick breaks!