Most parents and caretakers know firsthand that traveling with kids can be a very stressful experience. Regardless of the age or number of children, it can be a challenge to keep them entertained and content when in transit. Keeping a few practical tips in mind will help keep the entire travel experience stress-free and make any trip far more enjoyable for both parents and the kids.
Pre-planning and organizing is the key
The key to ensuring a peaceful and enjoyable trip with kids, whether by car, plane, or train is to start working on things well before setting off on the journey. Make sure that the locations chosen to visit – whether they are cultural, sports-themed, educational, or just plain fun – offer age-appropriate experiences that children can appreciate and understand. Having activities or attractions geared to children’s ages will go a long way toward keeping them engaged and content.
Involve the kids in the planning and packing stages of the trip. Allowing kids to contribute ideas for places to go and things to see will give them particular aspects of the trip to look forward to, and in many cases enjoy even more than they normally would because they contributed during the planning stage.
As far as packing goes, have them participate as much as possible, filling the suitcases as well as their own travel bag. Give older kids that are able to read a list of things to pack; for toddlers and preschoolers, draw pictures of the items that should go into their bags and make a game out of packing. Also allow kids to pick a few things that are not on the list to put in their travel bag.
When it comes to what kind of behavior is acceptable and what is unacceptable when traveling, it is important to establish these boundaries before leaving by letting kids know exactly what is expected of them, and what will not be tolerated. Waiting until you are all in the car, plane, or train to do so – or, even worse, until a crisis has developed – can have stress levels reaching a peak in no time.
Planes, trains and automobiles: The best ways to travel with children
When choosing how to get to a holiday destination, the needs of the children should always come first. Air travel may be the most practical way of getting from point A to point B if the trip will be relatively quick; domestic flights and direct or one-stop flights will almost always be preferable. Keeping in mind the age of the child or children and their particular needs is vital. Younger children will need tending frequently, whether this involves diaper changes, bottles and feedings, or simply getting out and stretching their legs for a while. Older children and teens will be able to tolerate sitting for longer periods of time more easily.
Train travel can be relaxing and enjoyable for both parents and kids, and is still a very popular mode of transportation in the UK and the European Continent. Beautiful scenery and comfortable seats make it a great option for kids of all ages, and the ability to get up and walk around freely while traveling is unique to train travel. Many trains include sleeping cars, ideal for long trips and tours, and kids will love the panoramic domed lounges found on many trains in the UK.
Whether driving the family vehicle or taking advantage of car rental deals, going on the road with kids will be the most budget-friendly and practical choice for many trips; this is particularly true for larger families, as well as for shorter day or weekend trips.