Do you have a big trip coming up with young children in tow? Don't
know how you're going to keep them amused and stay sane? There is no
denying that traveling with children is a whole new test of your
Do the scout/girl guides thing and be prepared with backups and lots
of distractions. Who knows maybe by following these tried and true
tips you'll arrive triumphant at the other end...OK, maybe not
triumphant but perhaps you'll manage to keep your cool the whole way
and that is something!
Here are 11 things you need to carry with you and not in the boot or
1. A change of clothes for each child and socks (it can get cold on
airplanes and the socks provided don't come in any size other than
2. Extra clothes for you in case of spills - especially handy if you
are going to have a child on your lap for part of the journey.
3. Tissues (can you ever have too many where young children are
concerned?), a few empty plastic bags (to contain any smelly nappies
and dirty clothes) and a face washer. Take a Ziploc bag for the face
washer so that when it's wet, not everything else in your bag gets
4. Variety of snack food (cereal, sultanas, crackers, fruit etc) in
Ziploc bags. If you're on a plane, the food never comes quickly or
often enough and if you're in a car, you can guarantee a child will
be hungry 15 minutes after you departed.
5. Drink bottles - disposables are handy but sometimes having the
comfort of a familiar drink bottle makes it worth taking your
child's with you. It depends a bit on the child and how adept they
are at drinking from a regular bottle. Don't rely on shop supplied
straws because they can get broken, bent and lost. If milk is still
part of your child's routine and they don't get it from you, don't
forget to take some milk or powder with you and bottles (take
sterilizing tablets if you need to sterilize bottles, much easier
and thorough than hot water from an urn).
6. A new toy for each child - something they haven't seen before and
won't see until you get going and they start to get restless. Make
it something that isn't noisy, doesn't take batteries (or if it
does, take some spares), that they can interact with, that doesn't
require your involvement to put it back together if it falls apart
and that isn't made up of a million pieces that can get lost down
the back of the seat. A tall order I know but I can tell you from
experience that it's worth spending a bit of time choosing something
that fits the bill.
7. A couple of children's books, preferably one or two new ones.
They can be a great distraction and usually have a calming effect.
8. Balloons - they don't take up much space and are perfect for that
transit stop that seems to take forever. There is nothing like a
child chasing a balloon to make everyone feel that bit better and
lighter about life. They can become a bit of a problem in a confined
space so you may have to make a judgement call about when to use
them. When you are just about to get back on a plane is probably not
the best time to bring them out! The other thing to do with balloons
is to blow them up and then let the air out slowly with the opening
directed at the child. My children love this. They squint and turn
their faces away and then double up with laughter and shout 'more,
more'. Again this may require a bit of discretion because the noise
of an exhaling balloon can be loud and well, unbecoming.
9. Bubble mix - another space saver that works a charm. Best saved
10. A favorite toy or sleep buddy (preferably something small) can
be an enormous comfort to an over-tired or stressed child. My sons
both have toys that they take with them on long trips. Actually my
oldest son will take 'snakey', a rather confused Lamaze caterpillar,
with him anywhere and everywhere if we let him. Thankfully, we have
2 backups just in case we ever lose him.
11. And lastly don't forget to take something to read for yourself.
You never know they may sleep or watch a movie and you could be left
wondering what to do with yourself. Nothing too ambitious or bulky.
A magazine or short story should do the trick
What should you put it all in? If you have to do any walking, a
daypack is best because it won't slip off your shoulders, leaves
both hands free and has lots of compartments so you can find things,
like your wallet, in a hurry.
If this list sounds like a lot to you, believe me when I say that
being prepared can make all the difference between a never-ending
ordeal and an unusual, possibly pleasurable way to pass time.
About the Author: Jill Brennan owns
and operates Espresso FICTION, where you can find intriguing short
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