Top tips for entertaining children when travelling
Whether you are boarding a long-haul flight for a far-flung destination or packing the car for a weekend mini-break, keeping children happy and entertained is essential for a stress-free trip. Little ones usually crave stimulation and you will need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep them occupied.
Our article is full of top tips to help keep the little ones entertained no matter how long your journey is. We also asked bloggers for some advice on travelling with babies, toddlers and older children.
Pack several activities
Children can often get bored of one activity so packing a few options to help keep them focused is a tip from Zena’s Suitcase. Zena has two children aged 6 and 4-years-old and keeping them happy during travel is something she has a lot of experience with.
She said: “Having tablets with their favourite apps and shows on will fill lots of time, but if they have a favourite toy, book or enjoy things like colouring I would pack those in an activity bag for them to travel with as well. Our children naturally reach a point where they have watched enough cartoons or played with a toy enough, and then they are keen to do something else. Having something for them to do in these moments maintains our status quo.”
If you are travelling with more than one child encourage them to swap their activities with each other to help stop boredom setting in.
We also asked Zena what words of advice she would give to others about to embark on a journey with children in tow: “There is no doubt that travelling with kids can be stressful, but it’s so rewarding. Children love to visit new places and have new experiences. It opens their eyes to the cultures and possibilities that exist in the world around them.
“You will love seeing the world through their eyes and observing the natural curiosity they have about the places you go. With some good holiday planning in place travelling with kids can be both an achievable, and an amazing experience for everyone.”
Pack some “presents”
Children love surprises, so giving them small presents to unwrap while on an aircraft, for example, is something which is sure to keep a smile on their face.
Blogger Vicki from Mumma and Her Monsters often travels with her husband and their children. Wrapping inexpensive gifts for the little ones to look forward to and unwrap is her top tip to help banish boredom: “Have lots of little presents for them to unwrap, things like cars or a small pencil and notebook. The excitement of unwrapping new things will keep them quiet for a while.”
Vicki also offers some words of advice: “Try to make it fun, there are so many games you can play and printable lists to check off when seeing certain things, have a look on Pinterest for great ideas before you go.”
Children love stickers, which is handy because a good sticker activity book can keep them occupied for hours. Playing with stickers can help children in so many ways including honing their fine motor skills, spatial awareness and creativity.
Kaz, a blogger at Ickle Pickle’s Life and Travels, suggests putting together a travel bag for children full of activities to keep them busy. There are plenty of sticker books on the market to choose from, from different scenes to dressing a character. Sticker books are light-weight and easy for little ones to carry themselves in their activity bags.
We also asked Kaz what other pieces of advice she could share: “Plan ahead and make regular stops allowing extra time for your journey. Make the journey fun and part of the holiday for everyone. If possible, travel to coincide with nap times, or consider travelling at bedtime.”
Changing your mindset
Like with many things in life, approaching a task with a positive mental attitude can really help the situation. Rosie, who blogs at Mummy and Boo, said: “For me, it's all about how you approach travel with children, if you imagine it to be stressful, then it will be.
“Yes, things go wrong, but they also go wrong for people who travel without children - there's lots of planning and prep you can do beforehand, but the biggest lesson I've taken from travelling with Boo is that children are pretty resilient. It's all about how you present it to them.
“Lengthy delays are never fun but instead of being negative tell the children it gives them extra time to do a dance-off, yes I have done this in a departure lounge many times, or time for another dessert. And remember, if you're feeling stressed while travelling, don't feel guilty. Instead, do whatever it takes to make it better.”
Remember the essentials
In the haze of packing fun games and activities to help keep children occupied it can be all too easy to forget the essentials, such as sachets of liquid paracetamol or a child’s favourite blanket.
Charlotte Pearson of the blog Mummy Fever said her number one tip is to be prepared: “I pack a busy bag for each child which includes their favourite things, things to do, a change of clothes, snacks and one new thing which I wrap. In my bag, I always carry wipes, Calpol, a thermometer and an empty plastic bag and hand sanitizer.”
Travel sickness is a common occurrence for many children, so a spare set of clothes is a must. Having a fresh set of clothing is also sensible in case a child spills their drink down themselves or smears chocolate everywhere.
Bags for messy clothes should also be an essential component of your kit when travelling with children – you need a place to put any stained clothing until you reach your destination.
Your arms can get tired very quickly holding a baby or toddler which is why a child carrier or sling is a great piece of equipment to have on hand. Whether you are wandering through the airport before a flight, or simply treading up and down the aisle on the aircraft, a sling or carrier is a great way to be hands-free for a while.
Hunger can strike at any time so keeping a variety of snacks to hand is wise.
Prepare ahead of your journey, especially if you have any fussy eaters in your group who may not be happy eating food bought on the road.
Pack the child’s favourite nibbles, things that you know they will enjoy and look forward to eating. There are plenty of easy finger-foods you can take with you, including crackers, fresh fruits, pretzels, cereal, dried fruit pieces and raisins.
As well as snacks, always make sure you pack plenty of liquids. However you travel there is always the possibility of delays, whether they be traffic or cancelled flights, and knowing you have enough water or milk to see you through those is important.
Pre-Bought Busy Bag
Karen from the blog Travel Mad Mum told us that she likes to bring a “busy bag” full of interesting activities and toys which keeps her little ones entertained when travelling.
Karen explained: “My top tips are to bring sleeping aids, activities and snacks to keep little ones comfortable and entertained. The best kind of activity is to make a busy bag with lots of new and intriguing things.
“They can be bought pre-made from a company in the UK called Keep Em Quiet. They are specifically designed to keep little ones happy on a long journey with things like mess free painting, 3d puzzles, and lots of crafts that are good for confined spaces.”
The key to travelling with children is being prepared for every eventuality and hiring household staff is a great way to enlist that extra pair of hands to help with all the jobs which need doing to get ready to embark on your next adventure.
Image Credit: Travel Mad Mum