Every parent knows that children and travelling is a match made in hell. Long flights, train and car journeys often ruin getting to the destination, and get your vacation off to a stressful start. It doesn’t have to be this way though.
Whether you are travelling with your own children, supervising a school trip or even entertaining foster children, it can be an experience that tests even the most patient of adults if you don’t go prepared.
There are a whole host of easy and inexpensive ways you can keep your little ones preoccupied. Whether you’re faced with 2 hours on a train, or 6 hours on a plane, we’ve compiled a list of 10 fool-proof ways to keep children happy when travelling:
1. Flight times
Children like routine and will get pretty cranky if you book a holiday with terrible flight times. Try and fly in the evening so they can sleep on the plan, or first thing in the morning so by the time night falls they’re already in the right routine.
2. Fast check in
No-one enjoys queuing for ages at a check-in desk, especially your children. To keep them – and your fellow passengers happy – opt for the fast check in options. This will mean you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying your holiday rather than stressing out.
3. Carryon luggage
Letting your kids packing their own carryon luggage is a great way to get them involved. As long as they can carry it themselves, pretty much anything goes. Tell them to pack enough pens, paper and games for the whole journey and keep as stash for coming home too.
4. Simple entertainment
Sometimes it is the little things that can keep your kids happy when travelling. For example, play ‘I Spy’ out of the train window, or show them the in-flight magazines on a plane. Things like colouring and sticker books are great too because they’re lightweight but will keep them occupied for ages.
5. Help them through take off
The pressure changes during takeoff and landing can really upset your little ones. If they’re old enough, give them a hard boiled sweet to suck. If not, tell them that yawning and swallowing can help stop their ears popping.
6. Don’t forget food
Children get hungry on long journeys and plane and train food isn’t always kid-friendly. To keep them happy, be sure to take your own snacks and food for them to eat. Nothing is worse than a hungry child, so do your best to fill them up at the airport or before you leave.
7. Take a surprise pack
If you’re taking a particularly long journey, you should think about taking a surprise activity pack. When your little one starts to lose interest and become irritable, whip out these additional games and treats. This can help keep everyone occupied at the tail end of a lengthy journey.
8. Take it in turns
Don’t go it alone when it comes to playing entertainer. Share the workload with your partner and take a nap or a walk up the aisle to relieve the stress. Your child will only become unhappy if you are, so breaking things up like this keeps everyone happy and alert.
9. Encourage nap times
If travelling at night, take a blanket and pillow and encourage your child to take a sleep. This will prevent them from becoming irritable and will help you and your partner rest a while too. Planes and trains aren’t always comfortable, but a little sleep is better than none.
10. Keep transfers to a minimum
Your journey doesn’t just end when you get off the plane. If you have coach transfers as well, try and keep these to a minimum. This will bring your overall journey time down, and give you less time to play entertainer.