Let’s face it, as parents, travelling with our kids may not always be high on our priority list. What with toddler tantrums, car sickness, mid-air meltdowns, boredom-inspired bickering and the persistent dull whine of inane requests from the backseat, travelling with children sometimes sits somewhere on the enjoyment scale between cleaning the toilet and visiting the dentist. But fear not! We pulled together some parent-tested, kid-approved travel hacks to help take the stress out of travelling with kids.
Pack a Travel Activity Kit
Pack a travel activity bag crammed full of boredom-busting games, colouring books and activities. Tailor individual packs to each child’s age and interests – you’ll have a better chance of keeping them entertained for a longer period of time. British Airways recently conducted a study of the best kids’ activities for flying and the winners were surprising – Play Doh, Lego, Loom Bands and sticker books all made the list.
Take a tablet
Tablets can be a godsend on long journeys. Make sure you download a variety of games, movies and kids TV shows. Charge them fully before you leave, bring the charger on holiday with you and always remember to charge them at your destination or at available intervals during your journey.
Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks aren’t usually your first thought when it comes to keep the kids from pulling each other’s hair out on a road trip or turning Seat 37E into a boxing ring. But audiobooks are a great addition to your activity arsenal, especially if you’re worried about your kids racking up too much screen time in transit. Stock up on Harry Potter, Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket and listen to the hours fly by!
Avoid a chorus of “I’m hungry!” from your kids and pack small and large snacks. Make sure you store the snacks in an easily accessible spot in the car. If you’re flying, pre-packaged and sealed foods are usually ok to take through security but avoid fresh fruit and vegetables and open packets of food as they may be against quarantine regulations.
Keep a routine
Generally, kids like routines and one of the unsettling things about travel is the fact that it often throws their established routines out the window. Try to maintain a routine, especially for younger travellers. Routines combat boredom – if they know what’s coming next, they’re less likely to pester you about it! Plan your journey around sleeping and waking times and try, wherever possible, to stick to their usually routine – even if it’s at 20,000ft above the ground. If they want to sleep on the beach in Tahiti, let them sleep (and enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet yourself!).
For slightly older children, imagination games can be inclusive of the whole family and make the time pass whip-fast. Gone are the days of I Spy. Try scenario-based games like What Would You Do If… and take turns creating the silliest, most imaginative, funniest and cleverest questions and answers. You can also create a story together by taking it in turns to make up the next sentence or paragraph.
Plan your route
If you’re flying, plan your itinerary with the least number of stopovers; fly direct wherever possible! However, if you’re driving, plan to stop frequently for toilet breaks, snacking, leg stretching and sightseeing to combat boredom on long drives.
Choose a kid-friendly airline
Most airlines are kid friendly but some are extra child conscious. Qantas provides in-flight entertainment and snack packs for their youngest travellers; BA offers entertainment packs and a Feed Kids First policy – your kids get their meals before you, so that they are fed and content and you can enjoy your meal in peace! For the ultimate in high-flying family luxury, Etihad and Gulf Air both offer flight routes with trained nanny/flight attendants on board to make flying with your family a breeze.
Pack Travel Insurance
Unexpected delays, lost luggage or illness while travelling are common but travel insurance can provide you with extra peace of mind when you and you’re family away from home. Compare travel insurance providers to match a policy to your itinerary, budget and family needs.
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