‘Are We There Yet?’
If I had a dollar for every time my son has asked me “How many more minutes mom?”, I’d beat Bezos hollow! As much as I adore travel to new places, it’s the actual traveling that scares the socks off me. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out, at other times my eyes. But I go for the sigh loudly and answer route – “Trust me, I want to get there faster than you.” While writing this post on travel activities for kids including travel games, car activities, travel snacks for kids, every ‘Are we there yet’ moment came flooding back to haunt me!
I mean who are we kidding. The dads immediately become deaf, dumb and blind to the frazzled moms trying to handle a bag, a stroller and a manage a (usually) screaming infant. Or we get the dirts from other passengers when our child decides they are going to stand on their seat and stare at people behinds. Or better yet, when our child decides they are going to take a stroll down the aisle while having no regard for other peoples’ personal space……not embarrassing for us at all!
I set out on the quest for sharing some tips and tricks to keep kids occupied during travel. It took careful dissection of the scariest parts of my travel memories to come up with answers. And flipping through years of embarrassments, meltdowns and nuclear explosions, I managed to come up with Top 5 Things that can help you next time you travel with your kids.
Whatever your mode of travel be – air, car, train, ferry – be prepared. Have a checklist of what you need to pack from games to ipads, books, change of clothes, wipes, travel snacks for kids, medicines, everything but the kitchen sink! Make sure you have everything you might need for the apocalyptic tantrums you little one might throw.
I always carry a change of clothes because accidents and spills can happen. Medicines are also imperative because you never know if you get your particular brand name type and what the availability is.
A recent survey conducted in the UK suggested that up to 80% parents were willing to give their child an electronic device during travel to keep them occupied. I’m the last one to judge anyone on that. There are times when I am happy to put the ipad in front of my son just so he can let me have quiet time. But incase that’s not your drift, remember to carry games and toys to keep them occupied.
The market is flooded with so many travel games for kids from uno to doggle. Colouring books is always a great option, specially the kinds where you fill the pen with water. Another favourite is the scratch and paint books. Good old fashioned family games like I-spy, counting cars, 20 questions, never lose their charm. So many good travel toys to choose from!
Whatever the time of your travel, plan nap times ahead and schedule meal times accordingly. Ofcourse you want your child to fall asleep the instant you get on the plane/train/car, but neither do you want to carry around a 20-kilo deadweight in addition to baggage.
4. On the move
If you are at the airport or train station, use the space to have your child wander and tire their little legs. Let them run around so they can eventually pass out.
Incase you’re on a road trip, use the flexibility to stop and stretch your feet as often as possible can and soon as you feel them getting angsty. Slip in a bit of sightseeing, or play some sort of car activity for kids like ‘what can you spot’ and take a little breather.
Never underestimate the power a snack holds. Whether or not you choose to bribe your way into silence with candy, but a well-timed travel snack for your kid is always welcome. And before you tch-tch me on the candy bit, remember that giving kids a small piece of candy to suck on will ensure the air pressure changes don’t bother them. So haha.
Also, remember that not every airline/train/ferry will cater to your child’s specific needs. Plus their meal service times might not coincide with your child’s meal times.
Carrying several zip lock bags of interesting snacks for travel is imperative also when you have a fussy eater (like mine). Apple slices, yogurt covered rasins, freeze dried fruit, juice boxes, goldfish, crackers, grapes, the list goes on.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with kids during travel, but sometimes the most obvious eludes us in moments of anxiety. No one is going to be immune to losing their cool when kids decide it’s their way or the highway, but remember we are all in the same boat. Go to your happy place, put on a brave face and say “We’ll be there so soon, you wont even know!”
Pin it for later!
This is a guest post by Priyanka Chaudhery. Priyanka left the corporate world behind to raise her son and eventually pursue a career in wine. She now enjoys blogging at Princess SmartyPants and exploring passions like travel, food and yoga.
What is your best tip for keeping kids engaged during a long journey? Share with us in the comments below.
Subscribe to Zest In A Tote Digest, my monthly newsletter, for travel tips and inspiration.