Anyone who has wanderlust at the basis of all of their thoughts is likely to underestimate just how quickly a little cherub of a child can destroy a holiday before it has even begun. We take irregular breaks by way of seeing new places and relaxing away from the stresses of everyday life.
As much as we love our offspring, it can be an absolute nightmare to pack them up and take them for an adventure in fields anew. The following guide provides a few handy tips that will hopefully ensure that young children don’t make you want to turn the vehicle around and confine yourself to a darkened room with nothing but memories pre-child getaways. Here is our guide to travelling with kids.
As a starter, let’s work with an acronym that should be easy to remember and keep even the most frantic parents on track – TENSE
Communicate with your child and explain what a holiday is, what is involved with the travel (“how exciting for you – a whole 6 hours in the car! I bet none of your friends have been this lucky”!), and what treats await them at the end of the journey.
Don’t overdo the excitement of what awaits, you really don’t want to encourage the anticipation too much – just enough to make the little darlings think the travel is worth their investment.
Nobody needs the on-the-minute “are we nearly there yet?”.
This is absolutely the most crucial factor in securing a scream-free trip! Divert your child’s attention with some well thought out and innovative activities. Keep it varied and you’ll find that you hear much less from them and the travel time will possibly even be enjoyable.
Let’s assume you’re on a long drive of 6 hours. The following time-breakdown might work ideally, but certainly leaves room for alterations to suit your own child:
Invest the first 30 minutes (or more if they allow) in their chatter and interest in the trip – if you can lengthen this, all the better.
Ideally, an in car DVD player, iPad or handheld console will take up the next 90 minutes or so
Attempt some old fashioned car games that you inevitably played yourself. Some of the best include: Animal Mineral Vegetable, Chinese Whispers, the Alphabet Shopping List, Pub Spotting (3 points for an animal name, 5 points for a royal name etc), Hunt the Totty (“the next lady we drive past is Daddy’s girlfriend”) or shouting ‘Eddiiiiee’ every time you spot an Eddie Stobart Lorry.
Snacks – always a winner and bound to appease even the most bored of passengers.
Colouring-in, puzzle books and drawing options are a great way for children to entertain themselves without relying on adult or sibling input.
Restaurant race – each person in the car chooses a chain restaurant and then races each other to see whose is spotted first.
If possible, nap! Better still, encourage the kids to nap and you’ve succeeded with peace!
Have a backup surprise at hand in case the journey becomes particularly tedious. Some great examples are scrapbooks that children can begin to complete and then finish while they are away.
Create a to-do list of all the things they want to do whilst on holiday, hand them a goody-bag from the local newsagents which includes a magazine, sweets and small toy or rely on the trusty technology if possible and produce a new DVD that they’ve not seen before.
You’ll easily buy yourself another hour or two.
Prevention is better than cure and so always monitor how the kids are doing with the journey. If they look restless, take a pit stop or if it seems that the DVD is nearing an end – prepare the next activity or snack… Keep ahead of the game. This is a battle and taking your eye of the ball could cost you the win!
...Enjoy your holiday!