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travel with young children – Part 2 – accommodation and travel time

Travelling with little ones

There is no doubt about it, travelling with little ones takes more planning and preparation. To find my tips and tricks for packing, click here to read part 1 of “Travel with Young Children”. There are many little “hiccups” that you can have while travelling with your children, but hopefully the following advice will help you out along the way.

child, sleeping, car seat

car travel

If you have to travel any substantial distance by car, one of my top recommendations is to try to plan your trip for a time when your child would normally be sleeping. This allows you to have at least a little bit of stress-free travel time. 

If your little ones are awake, many parents choose to entertain them with tablets or videos, but if your children are anything like my daughter, this makes them carsick. We learned the hard way on a trip to the Madrid airport that letting our daughter read in the car provokes her carsickness. So, you can do other things like playing games with them to keep them entertained. Get them looking for things outside, play “I spy”, get them counting the red cars they see, etc. Another thing that helps keep my kids entertained is listening to stories or simply putting on music, usually from their favourite movies. 

If your child gets carsick, try snacking as a preventative measure. Keep some crackers, plain cookies, pretzels, or rice cakes with you and let your child eat one when they start to feel sick or if you know a really curvy stretch of road is coming up. Don’t let them drink yogurt drinks or smoothies or too much water as this will just slosh around in their tummies and make them feel worse. Plus, if they do vomit, it makes a bigger mess! 

When travelling with kids, plan to make more stops than you normally would. We usually plan to stop every 3-4 hours with our kids. At that point they usually start getting a bit antsy and grumpy and they need to get out and stretch their legs. Plan ahead and look at your route to see if there are highway stops or if you’ll have to take an exit to find somewhere to stop. 

car seat, baby, asleep

Plane travel

Plane travel with children can be incredibly exciting, but also a bit stressful. You never want to be THAT parent on the plane with a screaming kid. Before my first long plane ride with two little ones (aged two and a half and 5 months) I did A LOT of reading online about ways to keep kids entertained on long flights and there are a few tricks that I have tried out and others that I’ve discovered on my own along the way that have been successful which I’d like to share with you. 

The first useful tip is to get a small, child’s backpack. Be realistic about what your child will actually be able to or want to wear, don’t get anything too big for them. In these backpacks go the things that your child can play with on the plane or in the airport while waiting. 

Help them choose the things that they will bring. I usually encourage my kids to bring small toys that are easy to wipe down with disinfection wipes and that won’t roll away or make too much noise for the passengers around us. I also always put a colouring book and some pencil crayons in as well. One amazing trick is to buy triangular pencil crayons so they don’t roll around on the tray table. You will also likely want to bring a small sharpener that has its own self contained part for the shavings.

Another item that I usually stuff into the bottom of their backpacks is a small, light blanket. I’ve learned the hard way that not all airlines will provide blankets free of charge. I roll up the blanket nice and tight and hold it with one or two hair elastics. If it is not needed as a blanket, it can also serve as a pillow. But, I recently came across a great find which is a little pillow which converts into a neck pillow for travel. It has a handy little snap that allows it to be attached to a backpack or other bag very easily. Its a fun animal design to make it appealing to the kids.

Another fun and entertaining tip I read about is to pack some small “surprises” for your kids to open when they get bored on the plane. I always keep these in my hand luggage so that they are close-by for when I need them. The original suggestion was to bring one for every hour of travel time on the plane, which might be good if your kids are really busy and hard to entertain but I’ve found that for an 8.5 hour trip I’ve only needed two per child because later they swap and then it’s still like a new toy. Some suggestions are a puzzle book like the one in the picture. Each page has a new puzzle as part of the story. Post-its and stickers are fun too as they can “decorate” their space on the plane. A small, magnetic marker white board is also a great idea as well as small puzzles, some building blocks, basically anything small and light that you think will keep your child entertained for an extended length of time. 

hotel or rental apartments

Staying in a hotel or rental apartment with young ones can be a bit of a headache. They are usually not designed with small children in mind. 

When the kids were younger, we used to ask the hotel for a cot or crib for the kids, but most would only provide one and since we had two kids, we had to find a solution for the other child. Some of the things we have done are to push a chair or sofa against a wall to create a closed sleeping space or to push it up against the side of the bed. We would then ask for an extra bedsheet to cover the furniture and we always had our little travel blankets to use for them for warmth. We have also put our oldest into the crib and slept with the youngest in bed with us.

Now that they are bigger, we usually have them share a bed and push it against a wall to avoid falls. One trick to avoid rolling out of the bed is to place a pillow under the bottom bedsheet and make sure it is really well tucked in so that the pillow won’t fall out. This has worked well for our kids, but some kids move and roll and climb more than others so it might not be a safe enough option for everyone. The picture shows an example of the pillows tucked under the sheets. 

Travelling with kids is a lot of fun, but it requires patience and work. I am a planner and I like to have things planned and organized before every trip, but sometimes with little kids involved things don’t always go according to plan and I am learning to roll with the punches and be more flexible. I hope that some of the things I have learned along the way can help you on your future trips.

What do you think?

As always, I’d love to hear from you! Do you already do some of these things, or do you have other tried and tested methods? I’d love to hear from you about your travel experiences and how you make the most of it. Leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram or here.

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