I think we are all going a little stir crazy at the moment and itchy feet now need scratching.  Everyone seems to be talking about holidays and getting away for a few days.  And with most governments suggesting we opt for ‘Staycations’ here are some travel tips to get your holiday off to a flying start.

I’m not going to focus on COVID travel guidelines and common sense practice of social distancing, face masks and hand-washing as this should hopefully now be second nature to us all.   Issue 27 of the Growing Child  outlines important travel tips that may help make the journey enjoyable for your toddler, younger children and the rest of your family.

The first thing I believe, is your holiday starts when you close your front door and start your journey! NOT when you arrive at your destination.  If you can get this into your family’s mindset (and your own) your trip  can be FUN, RELAXED and a time to RECONNECT. Here’s how!

Plan, Plan, Plan!

Trips that are well planned are usually more enjoyable for young children.  So take time to plan the details of your travel.  For example, how far you will travel each day, where you will stop for lunch, etc.  Having made your plans you can then be flexible if any changes should be necessary along the way.

Involve your children as much as possible in making these plans.  Even though your young child is not capable of reading a map, they will enjoy being shown the line on the map that shows where you are going.  In fact drawing a simple map with key landmarks highlighted can lead to a treasure hunt along the way!

Your children will enjoy seeing and hearing about all the sites as you travel and hearing the sounds of the places you go through.  There are so many ways you can make this exciting, looking out for bridges, red buildings, blue cars, famous landmarks and so on.

Help them develop their imagination and dream up ideas about where these travels will take them.  This is easy to do with brochures and pictures of where you are going to for your holiday.

What to bring?

Okay the plans have been made so it is now time to consider what you need to bring.

Something many forget so I’ll put this at the top of this list.  A good basic first-aid kit like the one you might have a home.  Have your child pack a bag of some toys to bring, help them decide on what toys would be better for the car journey.  Make sure that they are involved in the decision.

A good idea is to bring a pillow and your child’s favourite stuffed animal.  That way, even though they will be sleeping in a strange room, they will have the comfort of a familiar friend.

Be sure to bring some snacks as well as something to drink.  During these summer months young children can become dehydrated inside a hot car.

As I said earlier your holiday starts when you close the front door. When my children were young we tried (most times) to look at the trip as part of the holiday rather than getting from point A to point B.  Give yourself time to be relaxed and allow for flexibility, bring a picnic.  This provides an opportunity for children to stretch and exercise outside more so than if you stop at a restaurant. Particularly given current social distancing measures and the added stress this brings for families.

On the road!

It goes without saying that all journeys begin with seat belts and car seats. These are essential for safe travelling.

If your journey is a particularly long one, try and keep to your child’s normal routine for eating and sleeping.  This will help your child be less unsettled whilst being away from home.

As already mentioned, young children love simple games during car journeys. And as your children get older you can make games more sophisticated!  A great way to reconnect and for your family to feel this really is a time spent together.

Some parents like to bring along DVD players with recorded cartoons or storybooks, some sing-along music or a songbook whenever they travel.

Whatever you do, try to make this time on the road quality time together as a family.  The more enjoyable you make the journey, the happier your children will be.  And, vice versa, the happier your children are, the more likely you too will enjoy the journey!