I am sure that many of us have heard horror stories about being cooped up in a car or airplane for hours at a time with cranky kids. “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” “Megan is ‘looking’ at me!” “I have to go to the bathroom–RIGHT NOW!” There are endless instances when children can get on our nerves when travelling. Here are a few tips that may help soften the travel woes…
Create a TRAVEL SURVIVAL KIT packed with small travel toys and games. Use a bright back-pack or tote bag dedicated to the purpose. Include age-appropriate toys, such as an etch-a-sketch for preschool drawing fun, magnetic letter board for a toddler, sticker, puzzle or joke books for a grade-schooler. Interactive games can keep siblings happy-like Brain Quest cards with age-appropriate puzzles and questions, or even a simple deck of playing cards. Nowadays, portable DVD players and hand-held video games can keep kids trouble-free and occupied for hours. If you do take electronic things like a Game-Gear, be sure to take extra batteries.
Snacks can be healthy carrot sticks, crackers, pretzels, cheese or fruit. Try to keep the sugar content down for less hyperactive kids. Choose juice boxes and water bottles instead of canned soft drinks.
Take CD’s along with their favourite music, as well as family music that you can all sing together while travelling.
Make sure your child uses the bathroom at every opportunity–before leaving home, in the airport before getting on the plane, right after eating on the plane (the line-ups for the few bathrooms can mean a long wait), before getting on the bus to go to the hotel or a sight-seeing trip.
If going on a beach vacation or cruise, of course sun-tan lotion is a must, as well as hats and sunglasses. Also take a skin cream in case of sun-burn. Be sure to include fun bandages and a small first-aid kit. Include some tummy-pills such as Gravol for car/bus/airplane trips, and constipation or diarrhea medicine.
Another item to take along on your travels would be a history or fact book about the place you are visiting to keep the child involved. Play games asking them if they can find the historic site you are visiting in the book, or an eye-spy game locating various types or trees, flowers or birds. Even allowing them a kid-proof disposable camera for them to take their own pictures would be helpful in keeping the child interested.
Be sure the children have had enough rest before the journey. Tired kids are cranky kids. And limit their intake of exotic foods to prevent tummy problems. It is nice that children will try and enjoy different fruits in another country, but too much papaya or avocado can wreak havoc on even the most mature stomach.
Many resorts are child-friendly and these can be a family traveller’s best friend. These ‘geared-to-children’ places offer everything a child or parent could want, from child-centred snack bars (serving pizza, hamburgers and macaroni n’ cheese), kid-friendly swimming pools, special computer rooms, sports and activities, to group games (where children can interact with others in their own age group). Many of these family resorts also offer babysitting services that allow Mom and Dad some quiet time of their own.
Take along a special security blanket or teddy bear to make travelling not so frightening for younger children. Travel pillows, window-sun shades and a warm coverlet can increase the child’s comfort level when sleeping in a car or on a plane and reduce the travel blues.
Travelling with children doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With careful planning, plenty of rest and controlled activities, parents and children can enjoy vacationing together.