Planning your family summer get away? No matter if it’s by plane, train or automobile – travelling with kids can be stressful. To ensure you get your family vacation off to the right start, we’ve pulled together some hassle-free tips for making travel with kids easier for everyone.
Avoid making enemies
Remember the more you tell children not to press the attendant call button the more they will do it. Respect the comfort of other passengers by dealing firmly with unacceptable behaviour, such as kicking the seat, but be prepared for some passengers to give you the “raised eyebrow” treatment merely at the sight of your little darlings.
Let go of your rules for the day
If you have a baby, make sure to reserve one of the bassinet seats on an aeroplane; it will ensure both your child’s comfort as well as your own. For toddlers and older children, let them watch as much TV as they want – it will keep them happy and entertained and will make the time pass by faster.
When flying with young children, we recommend packing chewy sweeties and lollies. Also, we recommend Colour Wonders for little ones. These markers and books are wonderful because the colour doesn’t go on anything but the colouring pages. And if you buy new books to surprise your children on the flight, it will keep them busy for ages.
Don’t skimp on treats
Pack snacks! A hungry child is a grumpy child, so snacks are critical. We recommend packing small boxes of raisins, oat bars, and some “bribe/reward” items like small sweet treats. Also, consider sweets that can be sucked for older children, to reduce pressure on ears at take-off and landing.
The great thing about trains is that you usually get a fairly decent sized table on which to spread out your things. So remember to bring lots of colouring pads, activity books, and comics to help the journey go by. And don’t forget that train journeys are the perfect opportunity for a game of I-spy or travel bingo (where you tick off a list of things you might see out of the window, such as church tower, tunnel, etc).
Splurge for comfort
See if you can get discounts on first class by booking ahead – if travelling out of peak hours these tickets can be very reasonable and will give you guaranteed seats. Once again you may not be popular with fellow travellers so make sure you encourage good behaviour. If travelling with children overnight, reserve a sleeping car if possible. Children love it! Overnight train trips make for a rough ride, so being able to lay down with the children instead of sitting up all night is a blessing.
Stock up on books and movies
Hire an audio book from the library, and have each child bring two or three books to read. Having a DVD system in the car also helps keep them entertained. All of this, combined with their favourite pillow and blanket, make for happy and comfortable children.
Involve the children
If your children are old enough, have them help you research the route, compile a schedule and pick a few options for rest breaks. Giving them joint ownership of the travel plan offers them an incentive to look forward to the journey rather than lapse into moan mode.
Manage your expectations
See as much of Canada with the children as you can, but don’t expect them to care about the scenery. They won’t! If you’ve got plenty of time, drive only a few hours at a time, and give the children plenty to get excited about at the next destination.
Pack separate bags of toys, games, books, and snacks that relate to each county or country you will drive through. Every time you cross a county or country line, take out the new bag of goodies to keep the children entertained while also teaching them something new about each place.