School’s out and there’s an exciting buzz of festivity in the air. Last minute shopping and families prepping for their holiday or journey back to their hometown. For some, these road trips are amazingly fun but there are some who dread the journey ahead. The packing, the hours of traffic, the screaming kids, the sleeping arrangements….urgh.
Planning a road trip with kids is not for the faint of heart especially if they are still little. But there are things you can do to help make your journey/holiday more pleasant.
For all matters related to kids, I turn to my most reliable source…my band of girlfriends. Tactically experienced modern mums with plenty of tips and tricks up their sleeves. With 12 kids between us aged 10 months to 13 years (and one of us with a pair of twins), they’ve had their fair share of travel experiences. I called on my girls for advice and here are some of their best real life go to tips!
Schedule Travel Around Sleep
This tip is especially useful if you are travelling with babies or young children. Whether you’re travelling by air or on ground, you might be able to even squeeze in an hour or two of uninterrupted peace and quiet. Whether it’s scheduling your travels around nap time or night time sleep, it all depends on what you and your family can accommodate.
Before the journey, best to ensure that the kids are well fed and they’ve had their diapers changed to avoid any unnecessary interruptions to their sleep. Believe me, you don’t want to have to wake your toddler up because of a leaky diaper situation. Good luck getting her back to sleep again. I like to prep a bottle of milk for them just as I begin my journey (my kids are milk monsters) and before long, they’ll both be fast asleep. Something about a moving vehicle…
Entertainment & Snacks
So what happens when the kids are awake? …..”Are we there yet??” x 10,000!
It’s hard enough keeping yourself awake from the drive but to also play entertainer to frustrated, impatient kids is another thing! Let’s face it. It’s not their fault. They’re kids. They’re not programmed to sit still and be quiet for hours. So do yourself a favour, think about how you’re going to keep them entertained. And if that to you means, singing Wheels On The Bus all through the town with your kids then great. If not, get creative. Mini colouring material, activity books, a pair of headphones, gadgets, action figures / dolls or if your vehicle comes with one of those nifty drop down screens then cartoons, music videos or a movie would definitely keep them happy! The trick is to pace out the activity. Don’t bring them all out at once.
This is also a great time to introduce new toys or activities. We like to save up presents (especially toys) received on their birthdays. They get to open 1 new toy a month. This helps keeps things fresh and they learn to appreciate what they have. This could be a great time to unbox a new toy and it should keep them preoccupied.
Be sure to pack their favourite snacks too. Probably not a great time to try NEW snacks cause you know…they might totally hate it and then what! Pack snacks that you know they’ll eat and variety of it if possible. Let them indulge a little. After all, it’s a holiday right?! This could save you the pain of having to stop over some dodgy rest stop to grab a dodgy snack. Another handy tip is to not bring out the goodies all at once. Surprise them so they don’t get bored.
Check out these BABY MEL Kids Lunch Bags – great for school and travel !
Always Carry On Extras
Admit it. Life is just so unpredictable with kids. One minute they are ok, and the next you are catching vomit with your bare hands and praying that it doesn’t overflow. (Obviously speaking from experience) So it pays to pack an extra set of essentials with you especially if you’re flying. If you’re a paranoid packer like me, there would be extra clothing, a small towel, diapers, wet wipes and a few handy plastic bags to store soiled clothing. Cause you wouldn’t want to stuff pee or poo poo stained pants into your bag!
Check out Case Logic Berkeley Bag – A laptop bag that is so roomy, its a perfect Go To travel bag to store all kids essentials and even yours!
If you can help it, book a villa or an apartment! For the love of your sanity, do it! Firstly, kids love space. Getting all cramped up in a hotel room may leave them feeling restless. Secondly, if your kids aren’t the best of sleepers or if they are not used to sharing a room, then having that extra room can help everyone have a great night’s rest. Thirdly, if you’re travelling with babies or toddlers then having a small kitchen around is ideal for prepping food!
But of course, there’s always the concern of budget. If the budget doesn’t allow and sleeping in one room is our only option, then be sure to check with the hotel if they are able to provide cots, or mattresses. And just like you would at home, try to keep to the same routine and stagger their bedtime. My 3 year old takes a longer time to wind down and go to bed so I would put my 20 month old to sleep first then attend to her.
The amount of things parents have to worry about when they travel with kids is crazy! No wonder we have travel anxiety! The annoying part about food with kids is that “in between age”. You know? That age where your baby has just entered toddlerhood and is already experiencing bits of restaurant food but can’t go all the way yet so you still need to prep his meals. You get what I mean right? I know you feel me.
As a Chinese mum, I feed my kids porridge and noodle soup almost on a daily basis. When you travel, porridge is one of the easiest meals to prepare. When it comes to prepping meals for my kids, I bring my portable rice cooker set with me everywhere. It is so convenient. You can prepare porridge or soups with it.
I like to prep my dry ingredients (rice, sweet potato/pumpkin, dried oysters/dried scallops…etcs) into individual freezer bags and I portion my ingredients by day, which means I’ll cook once enough for both lunch and dinner that day. When it’s time to cook, pop all your ingredients into the portable rice cooker, add water and voila! If there is a local supermarket near your hotel, even better. You can grab some fresh ingredients there. The best part is, you don’t even need to stand around to make sure the rice doesn’t burn. The cooker automatically turns off once the water runs out.
When I say I am a paranoid packer, I am not kidding. Again, you just never know when travelling with kids. One minute they are ok, the next, they are running a mild fever. We have a Dopp kit just for first aid. Below are some of the basics that I carry, but if you have kids with allergies, be sure you always have your prescribed anti histamines with you.
Ear Thermometer (Be sure to bring cap refills)
Paracetamol / Ibuprofen (in both Syrup & suppository form)
Vaseline (Useful to smooth out dry skin and when using suppository)
Cool Fever patches
Anti Septic Cream
I hope these tips were useful! Enjoy your holiday but most importantly, enjoy your time with the little ones. It may not seem like they’ll remember anything at this point of time, but I believe that these experiences as a family leaves a positive psychological foot print in their hearts and minds forever.
I would love to hear your amazing tips as well!