Family holidays are what you go on to unwind, relax and destress while giving the kids memories to last a lifetime.
But the only thing that has the potential to ruin our dreams of sandy beaches and reading books by the pool is the journey to get there in the first place.
I don’t know about you, but travelling anywhere with two small kids can be stressful for me, even if it’s just 30 minutes to their grandparents’ house.
The problem with long journeys is they’re boring, and we all know how children react to boredom!
But I’ve survived a road trip to France with a my toddler and the lengthy car journey down to Cornwall on another trip with her.
There are lots of things you can do and ways to prepare for a long car, train or plane journey that will take the stress out of travel so you arrive at your destination ready to enjoy your holiday.
Here are my ideas for stress-free long haul travel with young children:
Food is a great distraction technique. Their mouth is busy, so they won’t be saying “mummy” every five seconds.
Be sure to plan ahead and bring snacks with you, as service stations and airports may not have exactly what your child likes. I find bananas, raisins, breadsticks, satsumas, packets of child-friendly biscuits and crisps are brilliant.
Of course check if you’re travelling by plane about the rules for what food you can and can’t take into your destination country as some, such as Australia, are very strict.
Download some children’s TV to the iPad
Amazon Prime has lots of downloadable content now. Load up your iPad with episodes of Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig or whatever their favourite shows are. This can keep them occupied for hours on end!
Create a travel art pack
My toddler got this fabulous lap tray to hold a drawing pad for Christmas. It’s got pockets on either side for pens and pencils and there are straps to hold the paper in place.
Simply hand it to them in the car or on the plane and let them doodle. Why not challenge them to draw a self-portrait or a picture of the car or aeroplane?
Bring lots of books
Another fantastic distraction technique. If you’re on a plane you can read to them, but of course if you’re in the front seat of a car this is tricky. Try to pick visual books, such as lift-the-flap ones or others with some interesting pictures in that your child will be happy to flick through themselves.
Make a busy box
Get a small tin or box and fill it with little toys, such as finger puppets, cars and small blocks. My two actually find it really entertaining just emptying and then refilling a box of goodies such as this. It’s a fabulous distraction technique.
Time the naps
On our first drive to Cornwall, which took us six hours, our daughter was still having two naps a day. So we timed our departure to coincide with her first nap, then stopped for a snack when she woke up. Then when we got back on the road we kept driving through her second nap, then stopped when this was due to end.
She did end up sleeping a lot more than she normally would, but it was handy to at least try to maintain a bit of her normal routine on the long journey.
For lots more family travel tips and fabulous family-friendly holiday destinations check out Tots to Travel.
Do you have any tips for long journeys with children? I would love to hear from you.
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