With the summer holidays just around the corner I thought I'd share some great ideas for travelling with tots- whether that be somewhere in the UK or abroad, for a day trip or a couple of weeks.
My first and probably most important tip would be to make a list. It sounds ridiculous but if you try and pack for a day trip, or longer, the morning you are travelling, you are bound to forget things - usually the most obvious things and you end up feel stressed before you've even started. If you know you are going on a trip somewhere, start making a list a week or a few days before you go and take the stress of travelling with children away.
For day trips, think about all the things that you use on a daily basis; keep a note pad or your phone handy and jot things down as you go. It's no good sitting down at the end of a long day to write it as you will have forgotten things by then. Don't forget to consider drinks and snacks or food for the day as they can be really expensive to buy when you're out and about. A cool bag and some of your child's favourite items could make a great picnic and save you a small fortune. Once you've sorted your everyday items (and added in a spare change of clothes for any accidental spills!) think about the weather; do you need sun cream and hats or a rain jacket? Don't forget your camera and make sure it's charged the night before. Importantly, add some lightweight items that you can use to entertain your little ones on the journey not forgetting to hold one or two of them back for the return journey. See below for some ideas.
For holidays or longer trips, again, think of your every day items including night time and then think worse case scenario in terms of clothes needed. I would actually use two separate lists for holidays; one for hand luggage and one for suitcase. Your hand luggage bag is probably the most important as with small people around, you will probably need to access these items a lot and usually very quickly. Think specifically about the items you need and then add things you could use to entertain your little ones.
If you want to see what we packed for our holiday, check out my other post here
Be realistic about how you can entertain your little one on long journies; depending on your child's age and their usual interests, they aren't necessarily going to be happy with one activity to entertain them for the duration. I have found the best way to keep my daughter entertained is to use activities that she hasn't done over the past few days. Things I've used that don't take up a lot of space are:
• Printable colouring sheets from Snapfish (they also have cards and origami) and pens or pencils
• Little toys (cars/figures) that can be used on a tray or on their lap - I have found that if you wrap up little toys (they don't have to be new, just toys they haven't seen in a while) it adds to the excitement and therefore keeps her entertained for longer
• For cars, why not try a car seat tray?
• Books she can 'read' on her own or favourites she will never tire of
• I made a quiet book which always goes down a real treat as you can change the pages so mix things up and I only use this for travelling
• Stickers - I can't express how much I would recommend stickers; I don't know any child who won't be entertained for a while with a pack of new stickers.
• Electronic devices - never underestimate the allure of an iPad or Kindle. I have downloaded some of Isabella's favourite films and TV programs onto my Kindle and when all else fails, this comes out and is a real treat.
I think my next tip would be to take PLENTY of snacks. If you know you will be travelling for a long time I would take the snacks you know they like and will eat rather than trying to be healthy. Although it's really important to give a balanced and healthy diet, one day isn't going to be the end of the world. For flights etc I would take things that won't get too messy and won't spill; for days out, you can be a little more adventurous - I freeze tube yogurts and wait until they melt which a) keeps them cool but b) helps keep other snacks cool too.
Hopefully this will help keep summer trips a little happier and less stressful.