No matter what time of year you travel, going on holiday with children can be a challenge. What could be a peaceful getaway can quickly become stressful if you find yourself surrounded by grumpy children. Here are ways to make the most of your holidays and keep both you and your children happy.
Ideally you should time any flights or long road trips so that your children can eat and go to sleep at their usual time, traveling overnight to your destination. This will eliminate many of the problems with keeping them happy and entertained. It will also avoid getting them off their usual sleep schedule. Fortunately, children can sleep through most anything so if you can get them tucked in to sleep, they should stay asleep during your travel.
Boredom is the enemy. If you are traveling by plane, there may be little to keep children entertained, unless you bring things yourself. Even airplanes with inflight entertainment will have large periods where the videos are unavailable like before and during takeoff. Make sure you have ways to keep kids occupied. Bring small toys or colouring supplies so children have something to play with even if the plane’s entertainment is turned off. You can also download videos or games to your smartphone or tablet.
The best bet is to come prepared with an assortment of entertainment options. Small children have short attention spans so they won’t be able to focus on one thing for very long. Bring a few favourite soft toys for your children to play with during the trip or cuddle up to while they sleep.
If you’ll be traveling by car or train you can try to incorporate the scenery to help keep your children entertained. You can have a list or bingo card listing sights for each child to find in order to earn points. Another option is to call out interesting sights as you pass them.
Bit of Home
You can help children feel more secure and comfortable by bringing along a few of their favourite soft toys. A baby blanket or each child’s pillow can make it easier for your kids to adjust to strange settings and get to sleep. Baby carriers can be a good way to keep younger children comfortable and secure while traveling. Once you reach your destination, familiar music can also be used to mask distracting outside noises so your children can get to sleep and stay asleep in unfamiliar surroundings.
No Small Pieces
Remember that some of toys your children might want to bring along might not be appropriate for travel. Avoid anything that is noisy other otherwise disruptive. Make sure you leave toys or games with small pieces at home. Try to limit the number of toys each child brings. One or two superhero action figures might be fine. Having their entire superhero collection along could turn your relaxing holiday into a never-ending search for a missing or misplaced toy.
Eat & Drink
We’ve all become accustomed to the fact that airplane food cannot be trusted. Even if food is provided, it is unlikely to be very satisfying. When traveling with children the food is an even greater concern. Children might be fussy eaters and refuse to eat types of food that is strange to them. Eating something unusual might even lead to tummy upset. Your best bet is to bring food with you. Keep in mind that your children might be too distracted to sit down and enjoy an entire meal. Bring plenty of small portions of foods your children enjoy so they can snack as the trip continues. Food can be a good way to distract children as you travel and use up some of the time your kids might otherwise spend being fussy.
As much as possible, try to stick with the normal timing of your children’s routines. In addition to trying to having your children stick to their usual bedtimes, you’ll want them to eat at their usual times as much as possible. You can even bring a book so that your children can receive a bedtime story before they go to sleep during your journey. Make sure your kids are wearing comfortable clothing for the trip. You might even put them in sleepwear so that they feel ready to sleep.
Be sure to start talking to kids before your trip so you can explain what they should expect. This will give your children time to ask any questions. Make it clear that this is a positive experience so that your children won’t be concerned. Kids also need to be taught how to behave while traveling and on holidays. Creating expectations now and practicing good manners can reduce problems during your trip. Not only is a sudden issue disruptive to your holiday fun, it can make your kids more reluctant to travel the next time. Keep in mind that the people around you want to enjoy their holidays, as well. Strangers might have less patience with dealing with children than you are, particularly if the children are unhappy with the trip.
Taking mini trips to shopping centres or drives across town can be practice for your children before you take off on your holiday adventure. It will give your children a chance to adjust to the idea. In addition, you might identify unexpected problems and figure out a solution before you are stuck in an uncomfortable or stressful situation in the middle of your travels. Preparing now can make your travel go more smoothly so that your whole family can get the most out of your holiday.
When you are looking forward to your holiday, perhaps you are hoping for hours spent exploring museums and other educational locations so your children can learn as you go. Maybe your plan is to spend your holidays soaking up the sun on a beach. Unfortunately, your children might not share your excitement about specific pursuits. You can help win your kids over to your style of travel by talking to them about it ahead of time. Pick up an age-appropriate book that talks about history of the sites you plan to visit. Tie in your beach adventure with your children’s favourite movie so they can imagine spending time finding Nemo or swimming around like the Little Mermaid. For example, reading stories about castles could make your kids more open minded about spending time touring historical locations.
Don’t expect your children to have as much patience and longevity as you do. Keep tours short and expect to split up your time at the pool or beach so that your kids don’t get bored. Plan for frequent stops and have snacks and drinks on hand to keep everyone nourished and hydrated. Don’t forget to stick with your children’s normal nap routine as much as possible.
Keep Kids Involved
Children can quickly tune out when presented with educational opportunities. Traveling from place to place can make some children grumpy. Even if you are just staying at the beach for a week, you probably have different places or activities you’d like to explore. To keep your kids positive about the holiday experience, find ways to keep them entertained and engaged. That could mean letting kids pick up their own postcards to collect each place you visit or gather items for a scrapbook.
Some children will love coming home with a rock collection while others will be more excited about the next experiences they’ll be able to tell their friends about later. Today’s social media kids might be thrilled to be able to take pictures they can show their friends of their travels or of the huge fish they caught.
There are a few common problems that can quickly derail a fun holiday. Fortunately, you can prevent them. Make sure your children drink enough liquids throughout the day. Airplane travel is particularly dehydrating and an increase in activities and a change in schedule can lead to children not consuming adequate amounts of liquids. Be sure to give your kids enough to drink throughout your holidays. Even being slightly dehydrated can make even the most upbeat kids irritable or tired.
Lack of sleep is a common issue. A change in routine, the difficulty sleeping in a strange place, or more active days than usual can short-change your kids on sleep. This, in turn, can make it more difficult for them to cope with strange surroundings or busy schedules. Be sure to schedule plenty of downtime and naps so that everyone in your family will still feel good at the end of the trip.
Sunburn is another major concern. Be sure to apply sunscreen to your children regularly throughout the day if they are going to be outside. That is particularly important if they are in and out of the water. Hats and clothing designed to protect skin from the sun can make it easier to prevent sunburn. Sunshades or umbrellas can enable your family to spend more time by the water without as much risk of excess sun exposure.
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