Pack. And then pack some more
Whereas you will, almost certainly, pack more clothes than you need for yourself, (what is it about going on holiday that makes us think we’re going to wear a different pair of shoes with every outfit and that we’ll need spares too?), children are a different matter. They will ruin a top by spilling some tomato-based substance down it; inadvertently draw on themselves with a felt tip pen or just become mini-fashionistas who simply refuse to wear something they’ve previously loved. So pack enough outfits, pack spares, and then add a bit more.
Are we there yet?
You can apply the same rule to the amount of time you factor into your trip. Always, always build in extra time, and then a bit more. You know how long the journey should take, but the actual time it will take is a completely different matter. False starts, pit stops for food/the toilet, or just to stretch their legs. We’ve all made the mistake as new parents of underestimating the faffing involved with children. And it’s not just the ‘going to the toilet’ or ‘grabbing some lunch’ that takes time. It’s everything they see in the short distance to the toilet or café that is of the upmost interest. The tiny bug on the pavement that they need to touch; the dog they have to stand and stare at, bolted to the spot; and don’t get me started on the wonderland of delights that is the service station shop… Older children really aren’t much better. They somehow manage to find things that make what should be a 10 minute stop a waste of half an hour. So give yourself and your little angels breathing room and everyone will be happier.
Entertainment is key
From an early age, children have an amazing ability to be bored at the drop of a hat. So when travelling, it’s a great idea to give them their own bag of things to entertain them. Then, when you hear the dreaded words “I’m bored” you can give them a choice of fun activities. Favourite toys, books, colouring and tablets loaded with apps, games and movies are lifesavers. But don’t be tempted to reveal all the fun at once – stagger the fun by introducing something new at different stages of the journey. And don’t underestimate the power of i-spy. Verbal games the whole family can join in with are a fantastic way to pass some time. There are the old-time favourites, but why not get creative and make up your own?
Get them involved
At every stage – from planning and packing, to travelling and being on holiday – involve them. Let them have a say in what they’d like to pack – then edit heavily before you leave so you’re not carrying around stones from the garden! Give them a choice of things to do on days out (but not too much, you’re better to try and steer them slightly). Above all, enjoy this time. It might get a tad stressful and you might wonder what you were thinking when you planned the trip, but often the more testing moments make for the most amusing memories!