If you have a young family (kids under five years of age) you’ll know that long journeys don’t often make for the best of circumstances. Having been to America and to Australia with my youngest, I feel pretty confident that if you prepare in advance for pretty much every eventuality, you’re going to at least be giving yourselves a fighting chance.
There’s nothing to stop you jetting off around the globe and although you may have had a couple of bad travel experiences before – learning and developing a strategy is often the best advice. There was a time when just heading for an hour or so at the beach was considered brave but now we would barely blink at the prospect of flying to Asia or travelling overland through Europe.
If you want to discover a few tricks of the trade for yourself then check out my top 5 list of things to know which should set you off on the right track. There’s nothing to fear except fear itself so grab your little ones kicking and screaming around the world and watch them come back as knowledgeable adventurers, hungry for more.
Take a Break
Wherever you’re intending to go, breaking up a journey is key to success. As with anything that appears to be a challenge, tackling each stage in a manageable chunk will often allow you to approach and deal with a situation with a lot more confidence. If you’re travelling overland then see if you can stop off for a few rests along the way for at least an hour or more. How about staying overnight at another destination to add to the adventure and allow your kids to see more of the route? Of course, a 13 hour non-stop flight isn’t going to give you much room to manoeuvre but if you can break up your journey then you won’t regret it.
Things to do
Whilst travelling, be it: driving through Europe, flying to Asia or heading off on your USA tours, finding things for the kids to do will keep them happy and occupied for as long as they remain interested. Variety and familiarity is the key to success and if you can supply them with activities that you know work for them then make sure you stock the lot. A new comic or activity pad is a great idea if they’re able to follow instructions on their own or otherwise a hand held video console is perfect if they’re at the age to watch cartoons or even films. Eye Spy will only last for so long but as long as you have an arsenal of games to play together or things that the kids can do on their own then you’ll lessen the chance of a melt down en-route.
Kids love to nibble and drink no matter where they’re going but remember that sugar-laced snacks and fizzy drinks can often have the reverse effect of what you’re wishing to achieve. Keep to tried and tested grub that you know they adore and try to make sure they won’t get too messy in the process. Avoid sticky food like honey and ice lollies and try to stick to dried food such as cold pasta and bread sticks. Snacks not only provide sustenance and fend off any hunger moods but they also help to pass the time which is exactly what you need on a long journey.
If you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment such as a ferry or aeroplane it makes sense to bring cuddly toys and pillows that kids know and love. Try to get them as comfortable as possible before you set off and by surrounding them with duvets, blankets and cushions from home they’ll be more inclined to rest and sleep which will lessen the impact of the journey. Getting your child in their favourite pyjamas with Mr Snuggly Rabbit is a really simple way to put them at their ease and allow them to feel more relaxed. The more uptight a child is then the more they’re likely to get upset so ensuring you’re taking the smells and the touches of home with you as you travel is a brilliant means of keeping everyone happy.
This is a fabulous way to monitor a child’s levels of naughtiness and tempt them into a well-deserved treat at the end of a trip. Try wrapping up a variety of presents and then saying that if your child is good then they get to open a present every hour or so. If the present is well-wrapped and adds to the longevity of their good behaviour then you may not even need the child to open all of them however, from finding something new to do for a few minutes to having a carrot to tempt them into good behaviour – this is a tried and tested winner on long journeys – good luck!