Summer is just around the corner and most of us will travel with our kids by airplane or by car for hours, and hours, and hours… Your destination might only be 3 hours away, but when you are asked “Are we there yet?” every few minutes, you can mentally say goodbye to relaxation and hello to anxiety attacks. But travel with kids shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world!
Here is some helpful advice on how to plan for your trip:
- To prepare, tell your children as much as possible about where you’ll be going. If appropriate, involve your kids in planning for the trip as for most of them the anticipation and preparation is half the fun. Gathering up a few brochures and travel pamphlets or going on line with your kids and letting them see a few of the attractions of your trip will pump up their interest level considerably.
- Tell them what you expect regarding their behaviour. For instance, you can tell them that fighting in the car is not allowed or that washroom breaks are for everyone.
- Always be prepared for that car sickness with plastic bags and wipes.
- Bring lots of fun things for kids to do: video games, cards, stickers and colouring books. Listening to audio books gives the kids something to do with their minds as it stimulates their imagination. A disposable camera will keep your child busy looking out the window of the car for cows, horses, or anything they might find interesting. The pictures will be blurry, but that’s beside the point!
- Pack a bag with items that all your kids will need such as small snacks, additional set of clothes, wipes and new toys. These toys don’t even need to be new but rather small toys that your child enjoys but hasn’t played with in a while. Don’t bring this bag out until the day you travel, and only give them one toy at the time.
- Also pack individual little bags for each child with items they choose to bring in the car or the airplane. These little backpacks can hold their favourite toys, books or games. Don’t forget to write the child’s name and phone number inside the bag.
- Snacks that you might want to take with you: crackers, apple sauce and fruit cups, individual cereal boxes, rice cakes, pop tarts, fresh or dried fruits. Try to stay away from sweets as we have all experience the effect sugar has on our kids.
- Take frequent breaks, at least every two hours. Look for playgrounds or rest areas with room for kids to run and play.
- Give older kids a map and ask them to help navigate or challenge them to find out how many kilometres to the next town.
- If travelling with a toddler on the airplane, bring an empty baby cup and use it instead of the Styrofoam cup and straw the flight attendant will use to serve drinks.
- When travelling by air check the amount of luggage you are allowed to take with you and the size and weight restrictions. Split belongings between the cases for all the family so if one case goes missing all of the family will still have an emergency change of clothes.
Travel is a wonderful opportunity for quality family time and you and your kids can really enjoy the wide world around you. If everything else fails, lower your expectations. Remember this is a holiday and you need to have fun!