Travelling with kids can be both fun and challenging. Wherever you are heading off to this time, here are 10 tips to get your children prepared for travelling and excited about their holiday (which is going to save you a few choruses of ‘are we nearly there yet?’)
1. Talk About Where You are Going
When preparing for your trip, pick a few interesting things about the culture and the destination to share with your children. A child-friendly atlas that talks about the different languages, food and dress that you might experience in different countries is useful. The weather can be a great talking point too if it’s going to be a different climate to that in the UK. When you are going on holiday in the UK there are still cultural differences that you can discuss with your children. Accents vary a lot across this country and there are foods that are famous in particular counties, like Cornish Pasties for example.
2. Get Children Involved in Packing
A great way to get them thinking about their holiday is to get them packing their own suitcase. Depending on age, this has varying degrees of success but it’s still a really fun travel game to play. Getting your child involved in what they want to take for any trip though is a fun thing to do and helps them think about the kind of activities they will want to enjoy while they are away. Some children aren’t as outgoing about new experiences as others and this is a great way to ease them into what to expect.
3. Discuss How You Are Getting There
When you are getting ready to go on holiday, always discuss how you are going to be making the journey. It’s also important if you are going to be making an early start. Children can get quite disorientated when they are woken up early and they need to be prepared that it is going to happen. At bed time, explain if they are getting up early and being put in the car and that wearing pyjamas to the airport this once is ok!
4. Don't Forget The Medicine
Whether they’re out of routine, jet-lagged, or eating less healthily, kids always seem to get ill on holiday. Dampen the impact of broken nights, frayed temperaments and fevers by packing an easy-to-swallow medicine such as Calpol in the UK. Other basic ingredients in your first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer.
5. Give Them a Camera
Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view. Amongst pictures of feet and wheels, my three-year-old has shot flowers, animals, helicopters, boats, rocks and rabbit poo.
6. Keep the activities coming
If you’re heading out on a long journey, have a collection of toys to be handed out once an hour. Handheld puzzles, tiny colouring books, stickers, word searches and even tiny packs of Plasticine will pass the time on a long flight or car journey.
7. Avoid sweets
Resist the temptation to keep them going on a long journey by feeding them sweets. Pack a mixture of savoury snacks like cheese cubes, breadsticks, fruit and bagels – anything to avoid arriving in a strange city with children in the middle of a sugar rush. It is Easter and there will be plenty of Chocolate Eggs to eat.
8. Identity Bands
If you’re going to be travelling through crowded airports or going to busy theme parks and playgrounds, an ID band with a name and your mobile number can be very useful.
Apart from taking photographs, there are lots of ways to help your children preserve memories of your trip. You could buy a postcard for each destination and help them to note a single memory on the back, alongside the date or their age. You could also get them started on collections of things that can be found in most places, such as badges, paperweights, model cars and boats or toy animals.
10. Remember to Enjoy It!
Leave lots of time, pack well, and make the travel part of the journey. Just remember that you’ll be OK, and you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself!