10 Things You Must Do When Travelling with Kids

With just a matter of days until you go on your big family holiday this year, there are lots of things to do and lots of thing to organise.  Where will you find the time?  How will you ever be ready?  But take a few minutes to check our list of 10 things you must do when travelling with kids to help everything go more smoothly.

Travelling with kids is amazing - or a nightmare.  Introducing them to new places, new cultures, new foods, new experiences is parenting gold.  Imagine the memories you will make, the fun you will have, and then reality sucks us in.  Why is the food different?  Why is it so hot?  Why doesn't it look like home?  You forgot my XYZ.  Sleep goes out the window - for everyone.  Fun and memories take a backseat to complaining/vomiting/screaming/fighting/crying or any combination thereof.  And all you wanted was a peaceful, relaxing, fun family holiday...

Here are 10 things that will make your family holiday happier and more relaxed:

1. Remember why you're going

Whether you're going to Margate, Marbella or Mali, the reason you are going away as a family is to leave all the distractions and pressures behind.  To relax, to spend quality time together, and to have fun.

That can seem really difficult to remember in the frenzy of preparing, packing and actually getting there, but remind yourself - often.  Write it down.  Have a family dinner and talk about all of your expectations and hopes for the holiday.  What do the kids hope for?  What about the parents?

2. Minimise tech

Do you really need to be connected to work while you are away?  Can you ditch the Chromebook, the tablet and the laptop?  Can you agree to leave your phone off except for emergencies?

Social media and email will live without you for a week or two, I promise! It's far easier to get down and play or to explore and make memories when you don't have a phone attached to your hand and face.

Forget the to do list, put your out of office up and have fun with the people who really matter instead.

3. Make travel as easy as possible

Check your passports well in advance.  Make sure all your documents, tickets etc are organised and ready at least a week in advance.  And ensure you have adequate travel insurance for all eventualities.

If you are travelling in Europe, get an EHIC card which helps get cheap or even free local healthcare in all European Economic Area countries, including Switzerland.

4. Flying made easy

Check in online if you can and arrive as late as you can get away with at the airport.  Airport lounges offer little of interest to small children.  Find out if you can board the plane early to make life easier.

Pack an activity bag for each child for the flight - a few brand new small toys, books, and colouring bits will be enough to entertain them for a few hours.  Have another one ready for the journey home too.

Order food options that will be delivered early, e.g kosher or vegetarian.

5. No stress driving

Plan your routes with military precision well in advance, and have a back-up plan just in case.  You really don't want to be sat in a 20 mile motorway tailback with small people.

Drive the bulk of your journey very early or very late in the day so children sleep through most of it.  There is much to be said for packing the night before and getting up at 5am!

Plan for wee stops, but stock up on snacks and drinks for the car.  Somewhere or something for a crafty wee by the side of the road in an emergency is essential, especially for those not long out of nappies.  We love this cute ladybird travel potty which is completely leakproof.

Gen up on car games you can play as a family, a great distraction and time filler.

6. Pack light

Lay out everything you think you need, then halve it.  Pick outfits for everyone that mix and match - 3 t-shirts with 1 skirt or pair of shorts.  They really don't need as many clothes a you think they do, and no-one needs to be pristine and/or co-ordinated on holiday!

7. Leave the toys at home

Ask the children to pack a small bag each with just a few essential or favourite bits, teddy etc.

Plan to spend time with your kids and they won't need a whole bag full of toys, they'll have their imaginations and you.  You and your surroundings will be their entertainment and there are plenty of toys in nature.

There will be beaches/woodland/snow/puddles or whatever else their small hearts desire plus devoted parents to play in it with them, commercial toys will pale into insignificance!

8. Be relaxed

Don't make too many big day out plans during your 1/2/3 weeks.  Have plenty of time for just being.  Maybe every other day can just be a beach day, where you do truly relax and have fun.

Children don't need constant stimulation from whatever interesting/educational visitor attraction you found online.  You + some sand/mud/water/hills to roll down or whatever is fun enough!  Look out for playgrounds, splash parks etc too.  The simple things really are enough most of the time.

Here are some ideas for free outdoor activities and a list of more than 100 free summer activities.

Forget routines, rules etc as much as possible.  Behaviour can be a bit slacker, hands don't need to be washed and wiped constantly.  If kids are busy and engaged, they behave well; if they are having fun, they get messy.  It's fine!

9. Eat well

Encourage children to try local food, but don't make it an issue.  You can get bread rolls, cheese, vegetables and fruit everywhere.  That's a meal, or even every meal!

Don't worry too much about food and meal times.  Have healthy snacks available all the time.  Eat meals when everyone is hungry, not by the clock.

Don't stress too much about what does or doesn't get eaten; trust your children to eat what their bodies need.  One day that might be loads of carbs, the next loads of fruit.  They'll be fine.

10. Treat every trip like an adventure

Even if you are only going an hour away from home, treat every trip like a great adventure.

Small annoyances and mishaps needn't be a big drama - for big or small people - if you approach the whole thing like a big adventure.  Just relax, have fun and make the most of all the opportunities that present themselves.  You got lost?  So what, just think of the things you might not have seen if you hadn't!

And finally, give everyone from age 2/3 up a camera to play with use, it'll make sightseeing a million times more interesting!

Above all, remember it's a family holiday.  Everyone counts, everyone needs to have fun.  Relax and enjoy yourselves.

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