Travelling with Children
These tips will be most helpful to those travelling by car, but can also be used when travelling by plane, train, bus etc...Travelling with our children is inevitable. Instead of dreading that trip to Grandma’s house, try these tips for a smoother ride.
If you are travelling with a young child, who still has naps – try and plan your trip around their nap time. If it can be avoided, try not to plan your trip so that your child will be over-tired and therefore harder to reason with. It is best to travel just before their nap time, so that 30 minutes into the trip they drift off into a nice sleep, and you get 1-2 hours of quiet time. Remember to bring everything that your child will need to feel comfortable having a nap – blanket, stuffed animal, soother (if you use one), milk, story books etc. You want to create the same feeling of comfort and safety for your child that they would get at home. (Some infants will get quite upset when they can’t see you, so travelling in a car can be tricky. If you are travelling with another adult, sit in the back with your baby and play with them, read to them or sooth them to sleep. You can also give them a bottle, soother and/or sing them some songs).Ok, so all has gone according to plan (it might not) and now your child is awake, but there is still time left in your travels. Bring a goody bag – this is a bag of toys, books, activities that your child has never seen before. You can either tell your child beforehand that they will be getting a “Goody Bag” or surprise them with it. Each child should have their own goody bag, expecting them to share will only cause conflicts. Make sure that each bag is based on each child’s individual interests. I like to go to the Dollar store and load up on colouring books and other great activities (last time I was there they even had travel sized Mr. Potatoes Heads).
When in doubt, bring a video for them to watch. Some of the mini-vans now have DVD players in them which I am sure that many parents find quite handy. Try to make watching videos in the car a special thing that you only do on trips, so that your children have something to look forward to (of course this is only for children 2 years old and up). If you are not travelling by mini-van, with built in DVD player – as many of us aren’t – bring a laptop or portable DVD player with you. This may save you…especially if your children don’t nap.Remember to bring snacks. We can all become quite cranky if we don’t get enough to eat in a day and children need to eat even more regularly than we do. So…make sure that you bring enough to eat and drink, so that you won’t have to make too many stops and hear too many complaints about being hungry. When you are packing snacks, keep them healthy and sugar-free as much as possible. There is nothing quite like having all your children jacked up on sugar and then trying to confine them to a car, train or plane. That is not going to be much fun for anyone.
Know your limits and your children’s. If your child hates to travel, no matter what you do…then limit the time that you travel. I realize this may be easier said than done, but do what you can to limit the amount of hours that you need to travel in a day. If you are travelling by car, plan to stop along the way and let everyone stretch their legs and use the washroom. And, if you need to – plan some overnights along the way. Travelling with your children doesn’t have to be about just getting from point A to point B…maybe there is something interesting in between.Give yourself plenty of time. Now, when I say “plenty of time” – I don’t just mean give yourself enough time on the clock…I mean, give yourself and your children enough time to get to your destination in one piece. That will look different for every family. Some parents might have a child who needs to use the washroom frequently, or a child who gets car/plane sick or even a child who needs time to stop and run around every hour. Know the needs of your family and then plan accordingly. If you are travelling by car, do not give yourself a time that you need to be at your final destination. Example – If you are visiting family or friends…don’t tell them that you will be there by a certain time. This only puts pressure on you and causes you to feel rushed…which of course makes us rush our children. Children hate to be rushed. So, just tell people that you are hoping to be there by a certain time and that you will call them if plans change.
Have fun. To quote Hemingway (which I don’t often do): “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway. What does that mean? Well…it means that you want to have fun and enjoy the travelling part of your journey as much as you can. Play games, talk about things that interest your children and enjoy each other’s company. There are several website that give great ideas on travelling games – see what you can find!Treat yourself and your children. Our child never gets chocolate…ok, she gets chocolate cookies from time to time…but never pure chocolate. So, her treat for doing a really good job when we travel is a Kinder Egg. If you restrict the candy that your children get in general, they will be much more excited about getting some at the end of a trip. You should also treat yourself!
You made it…you are all in one piece and actually had fun along the way – it is now time for your treat. Although, getting through a travelling day with your children without any huge hiccups is a treat in itself! If you often travel to the same place, ex. Grandparents – find a place near their house that you can all get out and celebrate with a little treat. Maybe there is an ice cream place nearby? A nice little bakery? Make it part of the journey…
After all, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway
Safe Travels Everyone!