Tips For Travelling With Kids
Claire is the creative brains behind Play Hooray. Her feed is full of activities to keep little ones on a creative learning journey. We pick her brains about how to keep even the most active little ones entertained whether they are on a plane, train or ferry.
Claire you’ve recently been on a 6 hour ferry with your little boy. How did you keep tantrums and boredom at bay of that long?
This summer our family holiday travels have included a three hour flight, a six hour ferry crossing and a seven hour stint in the car, phew! Thankfully not all at once! Mason is now 20 months and a complete whirlwind. He's active and interested in EVERYTHING just like any other toddler so I had to think ahead and plan how I was going to entertain him. Admittedly, the ferry crossing was actually the easiest form of travel and I would highly recommend it to anyone with young children. At first, I couldn't get over the six hours part, how were we going to keep him entertained for six mind numbing hours?! However, in reality it flew by. We paid an extra £21 for a cabin which was an absolute life saver. It meant Mason had space to roam, play and even launch a shoe at his Daddy's head (thats another story!!) and we were safe in the knowledge we weren't disturbing others! When the sea got choppy and we all started to feel a little queasy, we were able to close the curtains, turn off the lights and engage in a family nap. I'd packed a variety of activities to keep Mason busy and downloaded a lifetimes worth of Twirlywoos onto the Ipad because lets face it, when a toddler has had enough nobody can compete with an Ipad, not even a play specialist!!
What ‘activities’ do you recommend taking that will fit into hand luggage?
OK, there are two things to consider before packing to entertain a toddler;
1) What are my child's interests? 2) What will keep them entertained?
For example Mason is going through a vehicle 'loving stage' so before we went I was on the look out for anything along those lines. I found a fabulous little set of transport board books in Lidl and three packs of stickers in the pound shop. I kept them hidden from him until the journey to maintain their 'wow' factor! These sorts of things are great because i know they will occupy him for a lengthy amount of time. Secondly, I thought about all the activities he likes to do when playing at home such as fiddling with items and engaging in pretend play so I packed things along these lines; chunky beads on a shoelace to thread, a padlock and key, a whiteboard and a plastic tea set for role play. These were all things I knew he would want to do and that cost very little incase they were lost or left anywhere.
I also make sure I have a variety of snacks with me. Food can be an absolute saviour when travelling with a toddler (and husband) so its worth planning the snacks you want to take. I know it sounds silly but a toddler can take a good hour chewing on an apple in comparison to inhaling a banana so its worth packing items that will provide nutrition as well as entertainment!!
If parents only have space for three thing/toys to take on holiday what would you recommend?
OOOh Emma, thats a tough one!!
1) Most importantly a notepad and pen! This is a total must whether travelling across the world or going out for dinner. A notepad can provide a variety of options whether its drawing, puzzles or even ripping out pages to make things with. Slide a pack of stickers in there and you've got a winning combination!
2) A book. Mason adores books especially ones with flaps, touchy bits or sounds!! I always have a book with me and have been known to go to a restaurant with the entire range of 'Thats not my ...'
3) A scarf or pashmina. Random i know but actually very helpful. Not only does it shade a sleeping baby or jam in a car window to block the light. It also provides opportunities for Peepo and den building!
We recently went on holiday and left H’s bag of toys at home…it was a bit stressful. Any advice for creating activities from surrounding while we’re away?
The best thing in this case is use your imagination, you will suddenly find yourself becoming very creative! We were in a similar situation in Spain with only a limited amount of toys brought from home so had to call upon items from around the villa. You can find potential in almost anything, mainly the items in your recycling box! Plastic bottles and yoghurt pots combined with utensils from the cupboard are great for water play, cardboard boxes become building blocks, pillow cases becoming bags, bedsheets and pegs become dens and egg boxes become sorting trays. You can nearly always find new and interesting food items in the local supermarkets for messy play in the bath and nearly every toddler I know loves water play! Don't forget, its actually really good for children to get bored. It stops them relying on you to entertain them and encourages them to use their imagination to come up with their own games!
Finally…what are your top travelling tip for keeping children happy and busy?
I've thought about this very carefully and have two I'd like to share with you! When travelling with a toddler we've learnt not to plan and just go with the flow. How many times have you planned for naps but when the time has come you've got no hope of getting the little hurricane to close their eyes? In the end, its the adults in more distress than the children. We've learnt to just see what happens, I've learnt to look for triggers of when Mason is tired and I know what will guarantee a nap. But at the same time, I've learnt that its not the end of the world if he doesn't sleep and just to have plenty of tricks up my sleeve until he does.
My final tip is (drumroll)... a bedsheet! What?! i hear you cry but its true, I promise you will thank me for this one! A single bed sheet will fold up into most suitcases or travel bags and it has literally saved my sanity. When sleeping in the same room as a toddler, you know as soon as they open their pretty little eyes and clock you flat out they are going to scream the luxury villa down until you put them in bed with you. At this point Mason turns into a wind up toy, rolling around the bed headbutting and kicking you until you give up with idea of sleep and give in to playing in bed! By pegging or tying up a bedsheet between you and that darn travel cot it will give you those extra couple of hours in bed. I'm not promising miracles but perhaps just a little more holiday shut eye that will help you function as a human!
You can find out more about Claire here.
Hope you enjoyed our Travel Tips post. Let me know what you think and where else we should check out. Or if you have some travel tips you'd like to share please get in touch.
**This is not sponsored :)
Fresh Air Stories: Kat Brown in Kent. The first in a series of interviews talking openly about how we can get our kids outside more.