During the year we all dream of the annual holiday during the Christmas break, however, it can also be a stressful time for families with changes in routine, long car journeys or day trips, and maybe planes to catch. The Raising Children Network website, visited by 30 000 Australians a day, has collated a list of top tips for travelling with kids during the holiday season.
Associate Professor Julie Green, Executive Director of Raising Children Network says planning prior to the trip can make it more enjoyable for everyone.
“The most important thing during the holiday season when travelling with children is to plan and to be flexible. There are often unforseen circumstances that can crop up such as delayed flights, car sickness or unexpected illness. Involving children in planning the holiday can give them a sense of ownership over the arrangements and increase their excitement, and perhaps even motivate them to help with packing!” she says.
“Whether families are doing day trips or holidaying away from home, travelling together as a family can be a great way of connecting after a year of school, work and other activities that keep families busy. Holiday time can open up opportunities to enjoy each other’s company by doing activities together, talking and sharing new experiences.”
Whether family travel involves hanging out in one spot or heading off to explore, holidays with kids are about planning for short attention spans and manageable travel times.
Here are raisingchildren.net.au’s top tips for family travel these holidays:
- You’ll need lots of breaks and fewer activities than you would if you were travelling on your own or with adults.
- Plenty of stops for meals and drinks will keep everyone’s energy levels up. Keep water and snacks handy for eating and drinking on the go.
- Try not to have too many things that children need to share. Sharing is hard at the best of times, so have a pillow and a rug each, rather than one to share.
- Everyone has more energy in the morning, so this can be a good time for the more demanding activities. Activities and local attractions to keep children entertained might involve swimming, games, playgrounds, carnivals, fun parks and movies.
- Don’t forget to plan down time for yourself too. If your children are busy with organised activities, are playing with other children, or are looked after by relatives or babysitters, you’ll get a break for yourself.
- If your holidays are going to involve long car, bus, train or plane trips, it might pay to think ahead about ways to keep your children entertained. Depending on the age of your child, it can be helpful to have books, toys and movies available.
- If travelling in the car, consider getting a sunscreen for the back windows to help block the sun. Also, some families take an old icecream container for accidents of any kind. It can also work as a potty if your child hasn’t been toilet trained for long and there are no toilets around.
- Take a change of clothes for each child, along with hats and something warm to put on.
- Take your child’s ‘blankie’ or favourite toy. This can make settling and sleeping in a different environment easier.
- If your child sleeps in a cot at home, check that you can hire one at your accommodation.
- Stick to your child’s normal bedtime as much as possible. The occasional late night might be a treat.
- For older children, teenagers (and parents!), devices can be great for long trips but try to have ‘device-free times’ and do family activities together instead such as swimming, going to see a movie, going out for or cooking a meal together, picnicking, exploring the local area and board or card games.
- It’s also OK for your child to feel bored sometimes! Being bored can motivate your child to find something creative or new to fill their time.