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Travelling With Kids

Kids can be a nightmare to travel longer distances with. With a bit of forward planning, travelling with children shouldn’t have to be a hassle and whilst it might make more work for parents, by taking everything into consideration you can focus on the holiday ahead and family bonding as opposed to trying to separate the fight in the seat behind you.

Below we’ve provided guidelines for each form of transport you could be taking to your chosen destination:

If you’re travelling by car:

  • Do not let your children know if you are lost – it’s incredible how upset and distressed they get if they see you panicking, so pack a satnav, a spare map and study the route before you leave. Write out directions if you’re not fluent in reading maps, they can be easier to glance at rather than following a squiggly line when the car is moving.
  • Start your journey by night or late evening, so that your children will sleep through the majority of the journey (hopefully) and the constant movement of the car will keep them drowsy, especially on motorways – so use these as often as you can. Pack blankets and cushions to help make them comfortable.
  • Mobile technology is a great way of keeping kids entertained whilst you’re driving – the days of I-Spy are long gone and games and films which are readily available capture their attention for much longer. Portable DVD players can hook over the back of your seats, or mp3 players and ipPods can be used with headphones freely in the back without you having to hear kid’s audiobooks on a loop.
  • Take snacks, preferably the non-sticky kind. A hungry travelling child is a lot harder to travel with than a content one. Take a change of clothes too, just as a precaution. Spilt food is more likely to happen in a confined space which is more wobbly than your kitchen table.
  • If your journey has a deadline, make sure you leave plenty of time for kids to blow off steam inbetween long periods of being strapped in and being bored. Take breaks at service stations which have plenty for kids to do and to re-stimulate their brains.
  • Car sickness – If car sickness is severe, ask your GP or pharmacist for any medication that might help prevent or stop the feeling of nausea. As a general aid – keep your children looking in the direction of travel, as it lets the brain know what movement to expect. Play games which involve them looking at passing landscapes and traffic, and pack a few plastic bags, just in case.

If you’re travelling by plane:

  • For a young child, flying experiences, especially for the first time, can be terrifying. Pick flights earlier on in the day as they are less likely to be delayed and you have less chance of distressing your child or having to endure them being bored, fed up, hungry or tired whilst waiting to board a delayed flight.
  • It’s normally the two hour wait before check-in which is draining for both parent and child – so prepare.
  • Get them to suck on a sweet or bottle throughout the ascent and descent of the flight
  • Try and fly as close to their bedtime as possible – if they sleep through the majority of the journey, they’re much less likely to get upset. Also, don’t keep them up for the flight and disrupt their sleeping pattern – you’ll end up with an overtired but awake child who is a nightmare to travel with.
  • Take plenty of toys. You could use all the normal distractions until their patience has almost run out, then bring out a new toy to keep them occupied for a long while after.
  • Make sure your baby or child has had all of their jabs before you travel.

If you’re travelling by boat:

  • Boats hold a fascination with children as they’re the object of many pirate and adventure stories, so letting kids wander round (supervised) without being strapped down like a car or a plane can be great for entertaining them on the journey.
  • The novelty of being on a boat is also accompanied by other people to interact with, and other children to socialise or play with.
  • Check the weather before you leave – sailing through gale force winds won’t make more it a fun journey for anyone, and sea sickness can set in.
  • Sea sickness – Make sure you take any anti-sickness tablets before you leave land, and bear in mind that it’s generally better to be outside on the deck rather than enduring it sat down inside, or at the part of the boat with the least amount of movement. If that doesn’t work, lying down with your eyes closed helps your brain unscramble the mixed messages it’s receiving. Acupressure and salty snacks are also said to help with nausea at sea, but it tends to be dependent on the person.
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