Travelling with kids: how to stay sane and triumph

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Written By Karen Gee

As much as you might love them, travelling with your offspring can test boundaries and push buttons you didn’t even know you had. But with some forethought and planning you can make it a holiday to remember, for all the right reasons.

Get them involved

The fun of a holiday starts before you’ve even packed your bags. Thinking about where you’ll go and what you’ll do is exciting, and it’s a great time to start involving your littlest travel buddy.

Use this time to prepare them for that long-haul flight or 10-hour road trip, and also to get their input on key aspects of your holiday.

While you might not take their advice on where to stay (Walt Disney World Resort, anyone?), let them choose where you have dinner on the first night or which tourist attraction you’ll visit first. This gives them some skin in the holiday game, and that means they’re more likely to enjoy it.

Know your kids

It’s no good packing all seven Harry Potters in their daypack if your child isn’t a keen reader.

Again, get them involved. Talk with them about those parts of the journey where they’ll need to be kept busy, and together make a list of things they want to take (reminding them of course that the PlayStation can’t come).

If you’re travelling by plane or train, include activities you can do together, like card games, travel-size board games or audiobooks. That way, you’ll still spend some play time with your child.

Lower your standards

If you usually limit screen time for your kids, consider relaxing the rules while on holiday.

This can make things seem more fun for them, and give you bonus parenting points. Importantly, it can keep them occupied during long travel times or offer a quiet way to wind down after a day of heavy-duty sightseeing.

Get down with downtime

For little (and big) people, even a holiday can seem like hard work. Factoring in some kid-friendly downtime is a must, particularly if you’re on a long trip.

Give them some choice over what this might look like: play time at a local park? Going to a movie? Spending the day lounging around the hotel pool?

Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you know they’ll enjoy. You can also keep some downtime plans up your sleeve, to be deployed if you sense a travel-induced meltdown in the pipeline.

Plan … to be flexible

While planning is important, it also pays to be flexible. This applies to both your plans and your attitude.

Things can go wrong: flights get delayed, your hotel turns out to be a dump, the hire car breaks down. Maintaining a flexible attitude will not only help you deal with such issues, your kids will feel more relaxed when they see you keeping your cool.

Being flexible also means you can switch activities around without too much stress if your child’s in desperate need of a “downtime day”.

With a little planning, a positive approach and the involvement of your kids, you can make your next holiday the trip of a lifetime and create some fabulous family memories to boot.