Your days of carefree, unplanned holidays may be over. Now that you’ve got kids, heading off on vacation may require all the organisation of a military operation. The important thing when you’re setting off on a trip is to make sure your children have plenty of things to keep them entertained. Long journeys can seem to take an age to tots and they quickly get bored.
To help you avoid tears and tantrums while you’re enroute to your destinations, bear these tips in mind.
Reach for the electronics
OK, so it may take up extra room in your luggage, but make sure you take plenty of electronics with you. Gadgets like smartphones, tablets, handheld games consoles and e-readers can keep your family entertained on the road and in the air. If you get the chance, try to find some new games or movies before you set off on your adventure too. This will help to pass the time. Also make sure that you don’t forget your chargers. Bring some tunes along with the relevant audio equipment, such as headphones, too.
Stock up on books
Another way to keep your kids busy while travelling is to supply them with books. These items are failsafe because they don’t break and you don’t need access to power supplies to use them. If your children are young, you can add some colouring books to the mix and it's also handy to have some audio books with you.
Pack plenty of toys
A trusty supply of toys can prove useful on trips too. Try to choose versions that are convenient for children to play with while travelling. For example, steer clear of toys which have lots of small parts that can easily get lost.
When you’re stocking up on these items, consider getting some art supplies as well. Paper, pencils, crayons, colouring books and so on can keep kids entertained for hours on end.
Encourage your kids to keep a record
It’s also a good idea to encourage your youngsters to keep a record of trips. Give them a camera so that they can take pictures. If you don’t yet trust your tot with an expensive digital camera, give them a cheap disposable one instead.
Children sometimes enjoy making diary entries to document their adventures too, and this can help to keep them busy.
Break up the journey
Kids need regular breaks while travelling, so make sure you allow time for this when planning your journey. Ideally, you should be able to stop at least every couple of hours to enable people to go to the toilet or just stretch their legs.
If you’re children get restless, take these opportunities to let them burn off some energy. For instance, you might have time for a quick game of catch or tag.
Don’t let hunger strike
Kids are especially prone to mood swings if they get hungry, so ensure that you have enough snacks to give them while you’re en route. By stocking up on food and drink before you set off, you can prevent yourself from having to rely on sugary and unhealthy fast food (nice as it may taste!).
It’s rare for family holidays to be entirely harmonious from start to finish, but by following tips like these, you should find it easier to keep your little ones happy while travelling.
Josie Harper is a local children’s fiction writer and a mother of three. She has travelled extensively, her favourite part of the world being South America.