How to Happily Travel With Children


travel accessories for kids

“And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.” ~Dave Barry

Yup, the idea of traveling around the world as a family is a terribly romantic notion; one that in reality is no where near as much fun as in the imagination. I have traveled with two small boys half way across the world, sworn never to do it again and then repeated it a year later….go figure! The point is, if you love to travel, then whether you have kids or not, you are going to want to travel. Here are a few things that I have found made a world of difference to me.

Car Travel

If possible plan your trip while the children would normally be sleeping. If this is not possible, then make sure they get to run around and get rid of some energy before the trip and even during the trip when you take body breaks.

Avoid giving them sugary drinks and eats- sounds obvious doesn’t it? Carrot sticks, water biscuits, dried fruit, marmite sandwiches cut into bite sized pieces.

Ensure that you have a variety of books and things to play with to entertain them…try not to give them to the children all at once. Maximize the playing time with each new toy produced. Place each toy in a box, pencil bag, wrapping paper etc to increase their fascination with the object and the increase the length of playing time- We have to be smart!

If you have noisy games such as a children’s laptop, DVD player, MP3 player etc, ensure you pack extra batteries and earphones to ensure a quieter experience for the adults.

Older children will enjoy following the route on a road map. It always helped me when I was younger to judge how much longer we’d be sitting in the car, and eliminated the question “Are we there yet?”

No matter what age the children are, it will probably be well worth placing the picnic basket or something similar in between them to demarcate the space allocation for each child!

Of course the children will not be content to just sit in the car entertaining themselves for the entire trip. You will no doubt be asked to play the proverbial “Eye-Spy”. If you do not know how to play, find out on my web-site. It may be worth while to have a few additional games up your sleeve for when “Eye Spy” is no longer fun. You can learn some other fun games like “cricket” and “uses for”.

A damp cloth is a must in the picnic basket. And a sun visor for the children’s side windows.

A small bottle of ginger ale or a ginger biscuit is great for motion sickness, and of course the traveler feels a lot better when he or she is not reading and rather concentrating on the road ahead.

One idea I had turned out to be a disaster…..we traveled fairly late at night, but the boys were still awake. I thought I’d entertain them for a short while, then after dinner, they’d fall asleep. I bought them torches, so they could read their books even in the dark- It sounded perfect. The reality was that they kept shining their torches in their Dad’s rear view mirror annoying him while he was concentrating on the road- they had their torches confiscated early in the trip and they didn’t want to sleep at regular bed-time!! Sometimes our best laid plans fail…so Moms, torches are a NO-NO! J

If you have some time on your hands, I had a lot of fun creating felt books filled with zips and buttons, press-studs and shoe lace pictures that would entertain my children with threading, tying, fastening and creating. If you’d like some ideas on what to add, let me know and I’ll put together a list of what I did…

Airplane Travel

This is fun…all the queues which little ones don’t understand the concept of, they have to walk through the metal detectors alone, it seems an absolute age that you have to wait at the departure gate then they board families first which means you have to keep the children busy in a confined space for longer than any of the other passengers! A word of warning, buckle up at the last possible moment, save their bottles for as long as possible- otherwise its all gone before the plane has even taken off. Then when you need to equalize their eardrums, you have no more bottle and their nappy is already in need of changing!

Probably the best contraption I ever used in an airport is one of those leads for toddlers, which connect the parent with the toddler. Although I got weird stares from some passengers, my son was able to stretch his legs in the airport without me being concerned that he’d run off, or skip ahead in the queue. It also allowed me both hands for finding passports and filling in paperwork. The stroller was another handy carry-on. When my son was tired of walking, he could sit or sleep in comfort and while he was walking, I had a place to put the hand luggage!

As with car travel, pack small bite sized treats low in sugar and plenty of little toys to unwrap and entertain. Bear in mind that you are also tired when traveling, so the more prepared you are, the easier it will be on every-one. I do not condone the use of medicine to relax or force children to sleep, however, if you choose to do that, make sure that you try it out before you start your trip. I had an opportunity to travel alone, as so decided to take a sleeping pill to help me sleep through the long flight, luckily I tried it at home first, as it knocked me out from 7pm and I was only myself again at 12noon the following day! It was a very scary experience. I would also advise getting your child used to the lead before you travel, although it’s less restrictive than being held by hand, it’s very restrictive for the toddlers when they have been used to running free.

Happy travels

PS: Please feel free to share your experiences with me. If you have games and ideas to improve the quality of other parent’s travel especially based on your own experiences, please share them with me.

travel accessories for kids


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