Many parents feel stressed when they think about travelling with their little ones. Travel can be hard on everyone, so it’s important to make sure you’ve packed everything you need to ensure the experience goes smoothly.
Even children who are normally well behaved can get anxious on a long plane or car ride. For us, it’s not unusual to hear our toddler in the back seat say, “I want to get out now” or “are we there yet” after only 20 minutes into a 5 hour road trip.
So, what can you do if you’re worried about keeping your little ones entertained when travelling? Here are a few tried and tested tips and tricks to keep everyone happy when travelling – even Dad!
Keep your little ones happy when travelling by train.
- Bring a tablet loaded with your child’s favourite shows and games. We travel with both an iPad and Windows Surface. We love the Apps available on our Ipad and our Windows Surface allows us to download their favorite movies and shows. A couple hours can easily fly by when kids watch their favorite shows and play their favourite games.
- Bring treats and rewards. A small gift or special treat once you arrive at your destination is a nice way to welcome the kids and to thank them for being good. We use it as a way to discuss the travel day. We talk about how they were good and ways they could improve for next time. Some people disagree with this “bribing” approach, but we’ve found it works well in moderation, especially on long travel days.
Keep your little ones happy when travelling in the car
- Play music. Bring songs that your little ones will enjoy. Listening to “Wheels on the bus” and “Old McDonald” on repeat may sound like torture, but it sure beats listening to a crying baby. We also bring calming music and crank it up when the boys appear to be tired. It works every time.
- Plan frequent stops. Don’t expect to drive the entire way without stopping. Instead, break the trip into a series of segments. Look for a few fun things to do along the way and focus on these destinations, rather than the end goal.
- Wear comfy clothes. Nobody wants to sit in jeans for hours in the car, instead put the kids in loose cotton clothing. Take off their shoes bring extra blankets and pillows. Driving doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
- Be strategic with your departure time. We always try to leave an hour before our boys’ typical nap time. Often times this helps them fall asleep during the car ride, which makes it easier for everyone.
Keep your little ones happy when travelling by plane
- Bring proper child headphones. If you’re kids are not old enough for regular ear buds, get them child headphones with an adjustable headband and large ear cushions. It helps regulate the noise level without having ear buds continually fall out.
- Be selective when choosing your seats. Try to book an aisle and window seat when traveling with both parents. Then, when at the airport check-in counter, ask the agent if the plane is full. If it’s not, ask to have the middle seat blocked off for you. Most airlines are accommodating and willing to help out traveling parents. We’ve been able to secure the extra space a few times by simply asking. If the plane is full, we just ask the middle person to move to the window or aisle. We also find that you’re more likely to have open seats closer to the back of the plane.
- Bring a pillow. Not the small, awkward travel pillow, a normal size fluffy pillow. Yes, it’s a little bulky but it has been a life saver many times. It helps our toddler get comfy to sleep and it helps prop up our infant while breastfeeding. And when it’s not used by the kids, we use it.
- Bring a variety of snacks. Pack a lot of snacks. Then double it. Bring what your child likes. For us, this is not the time to be super parents. We bring stuff our toddler loves, even if it’s not the healthiest options. Travel days are meant to get from point A to B, and by bringing food that your kids like means they look forward to travel days, instead of dreading them.
Now your your turn! What do you do to keep your kids entertained when travelling?