Travelling with your little ones can be quite the challenge especially if the distance is considerable. Whether you are travelling by road, taking the train or flying the potential hassles are aplenty. Toddlers tend to get fussy and bored and if they have siblings then fights breaking out are very common. Bored and irritable children can be quite a headache over and above the hassles of long distance travel. That is why as parents you need to be prepared. Lets explore some basic ideas that can help you ease the fuss.
Tips for Travelling Long Distances With Your Child
Be clear to your child about time: Whether it is by road or by air be very clear with your child about the time it is going to take. In case you are taking connecting flights and there is a long layover make sure your child is aware of how much time he or she will have to spend at the airport. For long drives make sure your child is aware of the drive time and also keep him or her prepared for the drive to take longer. In case you are flying with a long lay over between two flights tell your child about the connecting procedure so that they do not get restless.
Packing: Involve your child in the packing process unless they are too young and cannot help at all. Letting your child get involved in the packing process and letting him or her have inputs on the things he or she wants to bring along on the trip will make them excited about it. Discuss why some things need to be kept back. Pack small travel packs for your children for the trip with small inexpensive items such as colouring books, crayons, sweets and story books and toys. These can help keep your child engaged during long journeys and flights.
Remember to Pack Enough Food: Your child is sure to feel hungry during long journeys. Make sure to pack enough food and snacks which would give your child something to do. But be careful not to pack on only sugary treats as getting your toddler on a sugar-rush is sure to backfire. Pack a mix of healthy snacks such as cheese cubes, breadsticks, fruits etc. It is always better to pack more food than required especially for infants and very young children to avoid running out in an unknown place with no guarantee of getting the same or similar things.
Carry Medicines: Whenever our family went on trips my mother and father would always carry all kinds of emergency medication like those for fevers, stomach upsets, vomiting, headaches and plasters for small cuts and wounds. This I find to be a very useful habit while travelling, especially with children, because this cancels out the need for searching for a chemist shop in an unknown locality. It is especially helpful if you are travelling through a remote area with not many shops.
Pre-Plan your trips: Try and curtail any kind of “before children” spontaneity in travel plans once you are traveling with children. Research well and book hotels in advance to avoid turning up at a destination and having to hit the road again in search of hotels. It does not hurt to be over prepared when traveling with children. Check for hotels with child friendly amenities. In case you are arriving by flight pre-book your transfers to avoid standing in queues with already testy and tired kids. If you are arriving by road then make sure you know the proper directions and do not have to waste time asking for directions and increasing the time spent in the vehicle more than necessary.
Take breaks whenever possible: It is best to try and take frequent breaks to ease the discomfort of long journeys. Instead of pushing on with tired, grumpy and bored children it is better to factor in extra time into your itinerary to get out for some fresh air, walk around with your child and then resume your journey. In case you are flying this is not possible. However, by letting your toddler walk around the aircraft, under proper parental supervision and not violating any safety rules, can break the monotony of sitting in one place for hours and also provide some form of relief to your child's muscles.
Sleep when they sleep: When travelling across multiple time zones your baby's body clock goes all off. They don't sleep when they are “supposed” to and sometimes even don't sleep at all. It is therefore best to adjust your sleeping to your child's. Look for signs of sleepiness such as drooping eyelids and less fidgeting and take advantage of the moment to take naps yourself. Keeping yourself at pace with your kids is very important on long journeys as you also get exhausted and need to keep yourself charged up.
Be Prepared for the climate: Read ahead and do your research on what kid of climate you can expect during your journey and also at your destination. Children who are dressed comfortably for the weather and journey will be happier in unfamiliar surroundings. Make sure your child is dressed suitably for travel. Insides of aircrafts can get chilly especially if you're travelling for considerable amount of time. Make sure that your child is appropriately but comfortably dressed for the journey. Don't pile on clothes that might make them suffocate and also do not dress them too lightly as they may feel chilly and uncomfortable.
Get them excited: Travelling should be fun. You have happy and excited memories of travelling as a child. The excitement of seeing new places and the break from the monotony of routine life is just as exciting for your child as it was for you once. So engage your little ones during the journey, point out interesting signs, sights even clouds and the setting sun. On flights you can get them to count the number of passengers on the flight to take their mind off.
Work Together as One Unit: As parents you need to be in complete sync with each other and help each other out during travelling, especially with children. Divide your duties and responsibilities well in advance so that there is no confusion at the time of the journey. Check, recheck and double check all arrangements and luggage to avoid missing out on any essential item especially for your baby. Get your older children to help you out by keeping the younger ones occupied.
Travelling long distance with children can be a veritable hurdle - one that often keeps families with new born, infants and very young children indoors. But with careful planning and preparedness this hurdle can be overcome. You need to remember the joys you felt while travelling as a child and need to get your child excited just like that.