With the Summer holidays firmly upon us in Scotland, my thoughts are once again turning to how to entertain the kids when we’re travelling. I’m soon to be flying with three kids by myself and experience dictates that I need to be prepared! So when Tots to travel approached me to share my tips for a family friendly holiday – I thought I’d share some of our tried and tested methods for travelling with Babies, Toddlers and bigger Kids too:
One – Use a Sling for little ones
With smaller kids – I could easily carry Katie until she was 3 – the sling is your friend when it comes to travel. It allows your hands to be free and there’s no chance for the kids to wander off!
Last summer, our initial flight was delayed which meant a very quick dash to our connecting flight. Thankfully, with Thomas in the sling I could just give Katie a piggy back and run as fast as possible! With Mike carrying all the bags and Ben shouting for people to get out of our way we made it with time to spare!
When we went to America, I managed to hire one that was more suited to hot weather as well. It was totally breathable and much lighter than our usual one. As things turned out, Thomas was really poorly whilst we were away so the ease that I could carry him about was invaluable.
Two – Get a Travel Buggy
We have the MOST amazing buggy for travel as it folds up to fit in the overhead storage on planes and trains. This means that we’re guaranteed to have it on arrival and there’s never any fear over lost luggage!
There’s a variety of similar buggies available on the market and I would say they’re invaluable. Ours is robust enough to stand up to the cobbled streets of Edinburgh – and ensures that the kids are comfortable on holiday as well.
Three – Sneaky Snack techniques
Thankfully – my kids like to eat. That said, rules on meal times entirely go out the window when we’re travelling. I like to take food that takes a long time to eat and they can eat in any way they want. Katie really loves kids chop sticks which usually results in the slowest meal ever. This is obviously completely acceptable when there’s time to kill- so the combination of these with smoothie melts is definitely a winner.
With babies who still drink milk, it’s always worth timing a feed with take off and landing when flying. Or actually allowing a dummy for this time. Ear pressure is bad enough for adults – for babies this seems to be ten-fold as they don’t know how to pop their ears. Now the kids are older, I always take a stash of lollipops to help with this too.
Four – Make the most of Technology…
Whilst I’m not a massive fan of screen time – all these concerns go out the window when travelling! Particularly on longer journeys. I like to really restrict time on the iPad in the run up to travelling so they’re super happy to see the devices too!
I usually download a few of their favourite shows on BBC iPlayer and then have a couple of brand new apps to explore.
Thomas still isn’t really that bothered by TV but actually LOVES looking at photos. Obviously, I could pack a little album but my phone easily suffices. If I know I need to keep him occupied then I just ensure I have photos of everyone he can identify and then an array of animals. This means we can have a round or two of what noise does the animal make too!
Five – …but don’t discount old school games!
We LOVE eye spy. Katie doesn’t know her letters particularly well but it can easily be adapted. Just say ‘I spy something that is the colour X.’ That way even younger ones can join in too.
Ben really likes drawing cartoons so last summer I found a ‘how to draw’ book. We each took a turn to follow the steps and then Katie got to vote on her favourite. It was a good way to spend time entertaining each other on our journey.
Six – Plan Toys Wisely
Many people advise wrapping up small presents to unwrap on the plane but somehow I’m never organised enough to do this! Instead I just take a small zip bag with a selection of toys that ‘do’ things. Think small cars with doors that open and close or a small torch with a button to press. Obviously, I avoid noisy toys but actually – anything that the kids can just investigate!
Our travel Aqua Doodle is brilliant for mess free drawing – and is good for a round or five of naughts and crosses too! Last summer I also found these Lacing Pictures for Katie, but they actually ended up entertain Ben (then aged 11) as well. We all ended up having races to see who could complete them first and obviously there was a good number to complete. They took up little space and weighed next to nothing – which is a good call for travel!
Seven – Utilise Books
I usually take a combination of books – one that is tried and tested and then a couple that are new. One that I know they’ll like – so something similar to something they have. And then one that is completely novel and more of a gamble.
Eight – Play with your food
Obviously, a travel essential is LOTS of wipes and a spare set of clothes for everyone. So, why stress if mess does happen?
Whilst I’m not advocating food fights, when flying I don’t see the problem in asking the air attendant for ice and a selection of straws. This combination just seems to entertain them no end.
Nine – If flying DON’T board early
Obviously, people with young children are often asked to board planes early on the proviso that they’ll take longer. But in reality this often means that you’re adding up to half an hour to your time on the plane! With good organisation there’s no reason you’ll take longer to board than others – so why punish yourself like this?
I would MUCH rather entertain the kids by looking out the windows of the airport. Or even playing in the soft play! It’s so much easier to entertain the kids in the terminal so I really don’t see the rush.
If you know you’re going to take a long time to board then I get not wanting to annoy other passengers. But in comparison with how long some people take – my kids are pure speed.
Ten – Don’t worry
There’s only so much planning that can happen. Last summer, I thought I had all the bases covered. But then Ben needed specialist sun cream (think factor 2 billion) and Thomas ended up having emergency surgery. Although I had a packed an epic first aid kit, ultimately I needed an electronic thermometer and all of our carefully scheduled days went out of the window!
Sometimes it’s just best to throw the best made plans out the window, relax and just enjoy beautiful surroundings and time as a family.
P.S. This is a collaborative post with Tots to travel – but all the tips are mine!