By Heidi Meyer
Travelling with children
Going on holiday is a fantastic experience but travelling with children can be a challenging at the best of times. To reduce parental stress involve your children in planning the trip and to take responsibility of their own stuff, remembering that they have a short attention span and tire quickly.
Destination and Attractions
Choose a family friendly destination and enough family and child orientated activities that are age appropriate to amuse them. Explain what there is to do at the destination and when you are planning to go. Let them be part of the process. Look at brochures together and or let the older ones research the destination, maps, animals and plants that they would be likely to see at the destination. This will make them look forward in anticipation of the wonderful experience and might just cure your teenager from sulking by being part of the decisions.
Involve them in packing from an early age. This is a life skill that will serve them well in the future. Set down rules of what they may take
- Take out the bag that they can see the size.
- Let them put out daily outfits and extras according to the checklists. (from stuffedsuitcase.com)
- Check and edit it with them.
- Assist in packing by showing them how to best place the articles in the suitcase.
At this stage it is a good idea to partner siblings, so that the older assist a younger, over the holiday period.
Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit for those cuts and bruises and the special medication that each one needs.
Take your time
Your holiday starts when you lock your front door. Take your time on the road and plan some sightseeing on the way to your destination. Don’t rush from A-B forgetting that you have children in the car with you. Break the monotony of a long trip with pit stops. Stop at picnic spots just to stretch your legs. I still remember the wonderful times we had looking out for a nice spot to stop. The kids loved running around and investigating the “goggas” in the grass or in the trees.
Keep the kids happy in the car
Place a comfy pillow and blanket next to each one for when they want to snooze. For little ones the ZOOBIE 3-in-1 Toy-Pillow-Blanket, is super as it is a soft toy at the same time.
Keeping the kids engaged is essential for a relaxed trip. It doesn’t matter what you use to organise their stuff into, as long as it is easily accessible to them and works for you. You can either use a Car Seat Organiser which hangs in front of the children behind the seat in front or a Boot Box Organiser on the seat, between the children’s seats. Keep these readily packed with a new surprise for each trip.
- Individual activity
Good staples are: Sticker Totes with reusable cling stickers, magic drawing pad, books, magnetic puzzles, electronic devices loaded with apps, games, music or videos. Activity / Colouring in books, pencils, plastic trays for drawing or eating and their individual snacks.
- Fun backseat distractions
Alternate individual-activities with family games to reconnect with the family. These engaging games don’t take up valuable space in the car. Do you still recall the fun in playing old travel games like; I spy with my little eye or the registration plate game? These require imagination and brain power and will have the kids roaring with laughter and screaming with delight!
Underneath the seat, place a tog bag or container with their sunglasses, sunscreen, swimming costumes and towel, one set of clothing where they can access whatever they need when getting to a stop.
Food, glorious food
Ensure that your children eat healthy food, remain hydrated and prevent sugar rushes by having a good supply of their favourite foods available. Stick to meal time routines to curb unhealthy snacking.
Check-in. Check out the lodgings. Let everyone assist in unpacking the car by taking their kit to their rooms. The elder children should assist their younger siblings. Then go out together and investigate.
Keep tabs on them
Monitor your children at all times. Follow a buddy system. Let them wear bracelets with their names and your contact details or write it on their wrists with a permanent pen. Decide on a meeting place should anyone be separated from the family at any time. The newest electronic child monitoring and tracker devices are useful should toddlers or children drift away from the family. The last thing you want to do is spend hours looking for your child.
Let everyone preserve memories of your trip. Young children can be encouraged to draw their experiences, collect shells, post cards, ticket stubs or paste things onto a holiday collage made from collected brochures. These items can help in their Show and Tell at nursery school on their return.
The older ones can take photos and write a journal of their experiences.
Kids need routine
Even being on holiday, try to stick to the normal meal, bathing and bedtime routine. Tell them a story or read to them, which you never get time for at home. It’s something they will treasure for the rest of their lives. This will prevent them from becoming overwrought and upsetting everyone around and actually make them look forward to their bedtime. It also makes getting back into routine at home easier.