It’s that time of year when parents stress out over planning and packing for a vacation, for which they will attempt to bundle up the entire house, including their kiddos, to take on their awesome adventure. Much of that stress comes from worrying about what to do with the kids WHILE travelling. But there’s no need to worry. Follow my tips and you can be sure to have a pleasant and memorable journey of joy!
Before we begin with fun tips, let me share a little logistics tip that has served me very well over the many, many years of travelling with my children:
Book flights, train travel, etc. during your child’s natural nap time times. If your children sleep through the night well, then truly consider booking an overnighter redeye flight, or train travel. You may be a little grumpy the next day from lack of a good night’s sleep, but your child won’t be, so that makes everything better. Remember, a cranky kid makes a cranky family.
IT’S ALL FUN & GAMES…
Tip #1 Safety in Numbers
Sit near other families in airports and train stations. I recommend camping out in a corner space where you can corral the kids so they can play until their heart’s delight. If you’re next to some other families, you might even make a new friend or two in the process! (BONUS TIP: Pack a lightweight tablecloth to spread on the ground to play on, and bring a small pack of baby wipes—they really come in handy for all sorts of uses)!
Tip #2 Video Games
While I am not a proponent of these handheld devices on a regular basis, they are great for children while travelling. Keep those devices muted, and everyone around will think you have the best behaved children in the universe! I recommend the old devices. The only drawback is, you might find yourself fighting over these games with your child if you long to play Donkey Kong. Remember to be a good sharer!
Tip #3 Carry-on Chaps
One carry-on that your family brings should be dedicated to travel games, books, crayons, notebooks to draw in, and be sure to throw some stickers. Please remember to pack snacks, lots and lots and lots of snacks! (You will thank me for this).
Tip # 4 Smart Phones or Tablets
Download a lot of your child’s favorite books. Many local libraries allow you to download up to two weeks, FREE! I know one parent who takes photos during story time each night of their children reading favorite books, (for a week before they travel). She uses these photos as “extra stories” on hand that she doesn’t have to pack. Her child simply re-tells the story from the picture, (which is a great learning skill, by-the-way). It’s fun and a lot lighter on the load!
Tip #5 Travelling is in The Cards
My favorite tip is to bring along a deck of cards. It’s small and lightweight, plus you can do so much with them! You can make up games: math games, sorting games, etc. You can also build houses out of cards. Kids love this stuff! If you learn a magic trick or two with those cards, you are sure to be a hit with your child and probably a whole lot of other people!
Tip #6 Yoga! Yoga!
Take photos or make flash cards for fun and kid-friendly yoga poses. They are another great way to get the body moving, stretching and a fun boredom buster (especially if you join in too). Who cares about doing these in public? Chances are you’ll never meet any of these people watching you again…so yoga like nobody’s watching!
Tip #7 Mother May I?
Airport terminals and train stations make for a great places to create a little fun. The classic game of Mother May I, and others like it, gives your child a chance to get some wiggles and giggles out before departure or during those long dreaded layovers.
Tip #8 Take Your Children for a Walk
This works really well if you have two grown-ups travelling with your child(ren), because one person can stay behind with everyone’s travel gear, while the other walks the terminal with the kiddo(s). My husband and I always played Tag Team, so the second one of us got back, the other would take the children for another round. (Now that our children are grown, we continue to do it, just to sneak in that extra exercise)!
One variation of this is one parent can stay behind with the child and play, while the other parent takes a stroll alone…parents need a break too, so they don’t become grumpy travellers!
Using these suggested travel tips should have you relaxing and enjoying your family vacation from take-off to return.
Bon voyage, baby!
NOTE: This article is a reprint from Michele’s International debut publishing in: TheBabySpot.ca