Tips for Travelling with Children on Long Journeys
Travelling with children for long periods can be both an exciting adventure and a daunting task. Long journeys, whether by car, bus, train, or plane, can present challenges, so careful planning and preparation is key. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip for both parents and children, here are some tips that will help;
Besides the essentials like water, snacks, medication, and changes of clothes, consider bringing items that will remind your children of home and give them comfort, such as a favourite soft toy, blanket, or book. And don’t forget the wipes! From wiping sticky hands and snotty noses to cleaning up spilt drinks – you can never have too many.
Create a flexible itinerary that includes rest stops, and planned activities along the way. Share the plan with your children to keep them excited about the journey.
Don’t overfill the car
If travelling by car, make sure there’s enough room for everyone to be able to stretch their legs and move chairs back if needed. Not only will the drive be a lot more comfortable for everyone, but a lighter load will also help the car run more efficiently and keep fuel costs down.
Research and book ahead
See if there are any family-friendly attractions or restaurants along the route you are taking. Knowing in advance where you are going to stop for breaks and booking ahead can save time and prevent unnecessary stress during the journey.
Timing is Key
If possible, start your journey early in the day when children are well-rested and more likely to cooperate. Leaving early in the morning will also give you a buffer for unexpected delays.
Expect delays and be prepared for them. If you do find yourself stuck in a long traffic jam, lead by example and try to remain calm and patient which will help your children to do the same.
Breaks are crucial
Plan for breaks every few hours to allow everyone to stretch their legs, use the toilet, and burn off energy. This will help to prevent your children from feeling restless during the journey.
Entertainment and Distractions
Load up tablets or smartphones with a mixture of educational and entertaining games, films, and audiobooks suitable for your children’s age range. Don’t forget the chargers and power banks, and headphones are a good idea to avoid disturbing other passengers.
Put together activity packs for your children to open during the journey. Include things like colouring books, stickers, puzzles and small toys to keep them engaged.
Playing games like ‘I Spy’, word association, or number plate games will help to pass the time, keep them entertained, and get their brains working.
Drinks and Snacks
Healthy and varied snacks
Pack an assortment of healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, cheese, and cereal bars. Prevent energy spikes by avoiding too many sugary treats.
Hydration is key
Keep water bottles easily accessible to ensure everyone stays hydrated throughout the journey. Sugary drinks might lead to energy crashes, so just sticking to water is a good plan.
Opt for snacks that are less likely to create a mess. Portion snacks into small containers or bags for easy distribution and to prevent spillages. Also, remember to take a bag for all the rubbish you accumulate.
Comfort and Safety
Dress for comfort
Choose comfortable clothing for your children, thinking about all stages of the journey, especially if you are travelling to a different climate. Layers are ideal for adjusting to changing temperatures.
Blankets and pillows
Bring along their favourite blanket and/or pillow for added comfort especially if you will be travelling during nap times or through the night.
If travelling in a car, make sure that any car seats are correctly installed and adjusted for your child’s age, height, and weight, following the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully.
Get Them Involved
If they’re old enough to understand, show your children the route you are taking on a map or Sat Nav. Helping them to understand where they are and where they’re heading can turn the journey into an educational experience.
Giving simple tasks to your children, such as handing out snacks or keeping track of travel milestones will give them a sense of responsibility and help them to feel involved.
Flexibility and Patience
During a long journey, there’s always the possibility that plans could change unexpectedly. If this happens, try to embrace spontaneity and, if possible, turn it into an opportunity for fun or exploration.
Listen to their needs
Pay attention to your children’s cues. When tensions rise or tiredness sets in, take a longer break to reset and refresh, if convenient, before continuing.
Be sure to acknowledge good behaviour and give praise or small rewards to recognise it.
So as you set off on your travels, try to make the journey part of the adventure. Remember that every child is unique, so tailor these tips to suit your child’s needs and preferences to make the experience an enjoyable and memorable one… for all the right reasons.