Top tips for travelling with your kids over the upcoming winter holidays
You’ve been counting down the days to the July holidays for the last six months. You’ve taken time off work and chosen the perfect place to relax with your family. Now all that stands between you and your long-awaited oasis of tranquillity is that lengthy road trip or flight. Yes, that dreaded time in a confined space, trying to placate the kids, while keeping routines consistent and meltdowns to a minimum (theirs and yours, too).
While we may not be able to reduce travelling time or restricted spaces, we can definitely help to make your journey a lot easier and more fun, with quality family time and memorable moments together. We take a look at how to make the most of your family travels with tips from Amanda Rogaly, founder and Chief Mommy of BabyYumYum.
Planning your road trip
“Being prepared can help ease your time on the road while keeping the kids safe and occupied, giving you time to relax into holiday mode and watch the scenery en route to your destination,” said Amanda.
Some quick tips include:
- Be sure to check your windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust and tyres before leaving.
- Increase safety by sticking to major routes, avoiding isolated, potentially dangerous areas.
- Maximise driving time during daylight hours, where possible.
- Plan your route and also where to re-fuel.
- Employ defensive driving by paying extra attention to the road, not looking at your cell, watching out for vehicles jumping intersections and traffic lights. Increase visibility by keeping your headlights on and refresh by taking a break every 200 km or 2 hours.
- Bring essential items: first aid kit, towing rope, warning triangles and a torch.
- Hanging up an organiser (or shoe holder) on the back of the passenger and driver’s seat adds extra storage space, while providing useful compartments to keep toys and items for the kids.
Tips for flying with kids
“Something to keep in mind is that our kids are often sensitive to our attitudes. Sharing your experiences adds to their excitement about the upcoming flight. Make it fun by discussing being up in the air, seeing the clouds outside the window and other enjoyable opportunities they’re going to experience,” says Amanda.
Handy tips include:
- Check in early or, better still, check-in online. This ensures that you can sit together as a family.
- When it comes to packing hand luggage, go for a backpack which allows you to find items easily in their designated compartment. Best of all, it frees up both your hands which can be a lifesaver when managing the kids.
- Anticipate blocked ears by having a bottle on hand for your baby and sugar-free suckers for the older kids, making it easier for them to cope with air pressure changes as the airplane takes off and lands.
- Board the plane with baby and your other kids at the last call, maximising time spent in a space where they can stretch their legs.
- Babies cry. And while that experience may not be the highlight of your trip, it’s an unavoidable fact (you know all too well). Keeping tabs on the time can help you anticipate at least some of the crying some of the time, helping you to stick as closely as possible to bedtime and feeding routines, even when flying across timelines.
- New sights and sounds can be a little unsettling. If your little one has trouble settling down, you can always put them in a baby pouch and use the time to stretch your legs walking up and down the aisle, while allowing the motion of your movements to rock baby to sleep.
Keeping kids entertained on the road and in the air
- Be strategic: whether it’s a blanket, teddy bear or anything else – make sure your little one’s favorite source of comfort is close by as a welcome distraction.
- Entertainment 101: bring on the games – from playing cards, portable Scrabble to “I spy” or road trip bingo. Get creative with your older kids by fashioning bingo boards and telling them to look out for 10 different objects as you are driving or flying. The first one to fill their board with all 10 items wins the game (and a prize).
- In case you have a couple of spare hours before you even leave home (read: not sleeping in anticipation of the long journey ahead), create a travel box for each child, including fun items like a colouring book, crayons, a book and puzzles.
- Final countdown – when you really need to pull out the big guns, a portable DVD or iPad with their favorite movies and games are ideal for keeping kids occupied, holding their attention.
- Keep a good supply of healthy snacks. These can be packed into different compartments of a handy plastic toolkit, making it fun, tidy and easily accessible.
- Take backup in the form of a surprise like new games or delicious snacks. This is to be used in emergencies only, such as when the kids need motivation for ‘playing nice’.
- Take with an extra change of clothes and also the necessary medicine in case anyone is feeling out of sorts.
While looking after everyone on the trip, it’s important to keep some TLC for yourself, remembering to look after your own wellbeing during the trip, too. As a parent, nurturing yourself helps you in turn to cope with any challenges the trip or the kids may throw at you.
“Being prepared definitely makes a difference. A sense of humour also goes a long way to help lighten the load. Keep in mind that it’s not going to be perfect all the time. But instead of worrying about that part of the experience, rather use the holiday to savour every moment of the time you spend with your little ones. It all passes far too quickly anyway,” concludes Amanda.