Family Travel TipsJune 22, 2012 No Comments
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
It’s a common chorus shouted from the back seats of the car every time we set off on a family holiday. And that’s just one of our children’s many travelling phrases. Others include; ‘I’m bored’, ‘I don’t like any of this food’ and ‘when are we going home?’ I mean come on, it’s enough to drive you mad when you’ve spent months planning and even longer saving for this dream family holiday.
picture courtesy of Brittany Ferries
However as the years have past, necessity and a sense of desperation forced me to acquire a few key travel survival skills that have made my holidays much more enjoyable. Here are some of my top travel tips…
Rule 1: Stay positive. The attitude that you approach your holiday with is very important. If it nears with a sense of dread, your children will sense your fear; if you get stressed, that stress will filter down to your children and when tension levels are high, family arguments are guaranteed. Don’t expect everything to be perfect. Things will go wrong – queues will be long, restaurants won’t serve your kids favourite meals, you will get lost, but rather than getting stressed, think of it as part of your holiday adventure.
Rule 2. Involve your children in the planning. Make sure your children get enthused and excited about their holiday. Show them pictures of where they are going, tell them about the exciting things you’ll be doing and seeing and get them to keep a travel diary or scrap book of their holiday. This gives them a good point of focus during their trip and will encourage them to focus on the good parts
Rule 2: Travel prepared. Pack a ‘family essentials’ bags for the boat or airport and bring it with you on any day trips during your holiday. Make sure this includes the following: baby wipes, Calpol (or whatever form of medicine you prefer), plasters, an antihistamine, inset repellent, sweets and a bottle of water.
Rule 3: Try to keep to their routine. Flights can be at the most awful times, but where possible book ones that allow you to keep to your child’s normal nap/bedtime routine. There’s nothing worse than taking a grumpy, over tired child onto a long flight. The same applies to activities you do on your holiday. If your child is normally in bed by 8pm, don’t expect them to stay up late every night without it having an effect on their behaviour.
Rule 4: Travel with toys. The idea that your child will amuse himself or herself for a six-hour flight, crossing or drive is just unrealistic. You may like looking at the scenery, but they won’t. Help them chose a few well-considered toys to bring with them on the journey. Avoid toys with lots of small bits that will get lost, or fragile toys that will get broken. Their DS or PSP, colouring books, travel games, cards, puzzle books and so on should all provide hours of distraction. Hold back a new toy to unveil later in the holiday as a special surprise on a day that your child is feeling especially bored.
Rule 5: Always have treats with you. It’s a holiday for goodness sake, it’s okay to give them a few more sweets than normal, especially if you can use them as a reward for good behaviour when you really need them to be good – such as during airport security. Just don’t fuel them up with too much sugar and then expect them to sit still for hours on a plane. Choose low sugar sweets.
Rule 6: Don’t plan too much. Learn to take your holiday at a relaxed pace with a ‘lets see what today brings’ attitude. By all means research the things to do in the area, but don’t expect to do it all. There are days when the kids (or you) may just want to chill, and that’s ok. The purpose of a holiday is to leave you refreshed and relaxed.
Rule 7: Where possible go all-inclusive. We learnt this very early on. Our children are like bottomless bin, there’s just no filling them. Eating out can be expensive, especially if you’re in a holiday resort. It’s so much more relaxing if you know that your children can eat and drink whenever they feel like it without you having to bash the Visa card every hour.
Rule 8: Kids clubs rock! Oh yes, we love kids clubs. The children get a few hours of supervised play with kids their own age, and we get to lie by the pool and read a chapter of that long neglected book. It’s a win win situation. Most kids clubs are free, but some are obviously better than others – do your research in advance and everyone will be happy.
Rule 9. Never travel without health insurance. It’s irresponsible to go on holiday without proper travel insurance – anything could and can happen and it’s foolish to think otherwise. On a trip to Turkey we were extremely grateful we had insurance when my husband ended up being ambulanced to Istanbul hospital where he remained for three nights. The bill was thousands but thankfully it was all taken care of by the insurance company.
Rule 10. Enjoy yourself. Spending quality time as a family is vitally important, whether you’re at home or abroad. Let your hair down, relax and have a bit of a laugh with your kids – that’s what holidays are all about!
Next week: How to survive airport security with kidsTags: travelDEVELOPMENT, ENTERTAINMENT, PARENTING