First tip, don’t do it, don’t travel with your kids, leave them at home with any relative who is super kind, yet naive enough to think your children are angels! No I am only joking, travelling with your kids is awesome, well at least most of the time. Taking your kids on a road trip and showing them new things, watching them embrace new experiences and meet new and interesting characters along the way is a priceless experience. There is something really special about witnessing your children discover the world around them.
Hubby and I thought it would be a great experience to take our car and our family over to Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry, (read about how that went here), after April vomited in the underground carpark of the ferry we were off to a great start. This was followed by her mother (yes that is me) feeling sick for hours, but with the help of some sea sick prevention bands and some nausea reducing medication I managed to not throw up. Therefore . . .
Tip 1: If travelling on a boat or even around bendy roads I highly recommend getting travel sickness bands, they work on the pressure points in your wrist and are all natural and safe for kids and adults. A good indication to whether you or your child will get sick whilst travelling on a boat, is if they or you get sick whilst driving on bendy roads. I always get sick going around bendy roads so that was a good indication that I would feel sea sick.
Tip 2: Let’s face it, even as adults we can get bored on long journeys, kids have much less patience (well most of the time, I’ve seen some pretty impatient adults too). So it is always wise to pack boredom busters. As much as we have it drummed into our heads to reduce kids screen time, this is a time to forget mummy guilt and just be that bad parent, just let them use their iPads, iPod touches, their DS, Nexus, Samsung tablet, or whatever device they have and enjoy, it saves so much of your sanity when you are all in a confined space for hours on end.
Tip 3. Even though I just said let them go crazy on their gaming devices, I wouldn’t solely rely on these as the only entertainment on long journeys, be it plane, train, boat or automobile, kids need variety, and besides that batteries do go flat. Pack a surprise pack for your kids, this works from Toddlers through to Teens (obviously what is in the pack varies greatly though). Sticker sheets, a travel journal, bright new pens, stickesr and colouring books, little cheap toys, travel games like mini Magnetic Chess, or Guess Who, and a variety of quirky items that can be found at a $2 shop. Don’t give the whole pack at once though, space it out.
Tip 4: Free from any mummy guilt is tip 4, because we all know reading is great for kids. Take your child to the book store before you leave and let them browse through the books until they find one or two they are really keen on. I encourage my older children aged 8 and 11 to read the first couple of pages to see if it captures their imagination. Once they have selected a book put it away until you are on your journey. Remember that whatever kids love to read is great, if they prefer a comic book, magazine, or a minecraft guide it doesn’t matter, any reading is great. Plus a new book for mum is always a great idea too! kindles are great space savers if you want to take several books, but I still love the feel of a real paperback.
Tip 5: Be weather wise. Check weather for the week ahead and pack light, yet smart. Check if you can wash where you are going, or if you need change for washing machines. We usually never use as much as we pack, and worst case you can wash in the sink if you pack a little supply of washing powder.
Tip 6: Wet wipes, you can never have too many wet wipes or hand sanitiser. Pack some soap, tissues and a roll of toilet paper just in case.
Tip 7: And in many ways this should be tip one! First aid kits are a must! Ensure you at the very least have bandaids, antiseptic cream (check the date), sting or burn cream, bug spray and always have sunscreen. Others I would add in is a bandage, vapour rub, mild pain relief medication such as paracetamol, alcohol swabs, and for the parents only, a nice bottle of wine. Make sure you always pack any medication you or your child needs, like asthma pumps. If your child is prone to allergies with weather changes, the great outdoors, foods, or bug bites make sure to pack some antihistamine.
Tip 8: Pack snacks, not only do we need food to nourish and fuel our body, but it helps pass the time when you have an apple to chew on. It is tempting to buy food everywhere you go, but it can bust the budget pretty quickly. So I suggest making sandwiches, pack fruit and other healthy snacks. It is nice to buy fresh food from the local markets where you are staying, live like a local, buy fresh and cook where you are staying if you can. It is always nice to stop along the way for a coffee and meet locals who can give you great advice on places to visit.
Tip 9: When driving around stop for frequent toilet breaks and run arounds, it helps burn off everyones tension. It is also a great way to see things that weren’t on your list and make discoveries. If you have time take the road less travelled, we found many quirky and beautiful places this way. If you are stuck on a boat for a whole day, I recommend walking around and seeing if they have on board entertainment, it breaks up the long day and can help distract you from sea sickness (if you’re lucky).
Tip 10: Remember kids are kids. This might sound obvious, but it is easy to get so focussed on where we are trying to get to that we forget to have fun along the way. See things through your children eyes and watch them discover new things. If you can, I suggest making your travel days shorter so that you can make stops and enjoy those stops!
Tip 11: Give them an allowance. Kids love feeling grown up. We gave our kids each a purse/wallet and some spending money. It was the cutest watching Adam, age 6, ask for and pay for what he chose to buy. His first choice was a chocolate frog from the chocolate factory, he was so shy, but he did it and was thrilled to get his change. It really is sweet watching them really think about what they should spend their money on. On this note let them make some choices about what they want to see on the holiday (as long as it is affordable), it makes them feel important and listened to.
Tip 12: I have briefly touched on this already, but I can’t say it enough, get off the beaten track. The top tourist spots are special, but allow some time to just explore and find your own way. Also listen to the locals, they really know the best hidden gems and if you get in friendly with them they will share these with you. We went into a really quirky cafe one morning and it has turned out to be one of my kids best memories, the lady let them all choose crystals for free and then told them to follow their dreams. She told us about a gorgeous water hole where they could go and cleanse their crystals and it was a truly magical place, one of the most beautiful spots we have ever seen.
I hope these tips help you plan your next adventure and make it an extra special one. Trips don’t have to be long or even overly expensive, but you do want them to be relaxed and an experience you will remember fondly. So don’t over schedule, allow time for detours and remember to let your kids explore. You will enjoy your holidays with your kids a lot more if you rejoice in their wonderment and sense of adventure!
Have you got some tips to share? I’d love to hear them.
Thanks for joining me, love Mackenzie xx
Go on get out and make memories with your kids!