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Travelling With Children

Updated on October 25, 2015

A few of my tips for surviving travelling with children. All my tips are based on my personal experience with my 4 year old son and my 7 year old daughter.

Travelling With Children Can Be Fun

Little Holigan, me and my little princess.
Little Holigan, me and my little princess. | Source

Travelling with my 4 year old Hooligan and my 7 year old Little Princess.

A while ago I wrote a couple of articles about travelling with toddlers. Now my children have grown and become more independent, making travelling easier in a way, but not less challenging as when they were younger.

Things have changed, we do not need to worry about nappies or toddlers sucking sand covered dummies at the beach, and we can even have quite a relaxing day at the beach while the children entertain themselves. But as they have grown, they have become a bit more exigent.

Here are a few of my tips about surviving travelling with children. If you have any, please write them down in the comments section, I am sure they will help other parents. My tips are based on my experience with my 4 year old hooligan and my 7 year old little princess.

My Tips about Surviving Travelling with Children

Travelling by Car

1) Some children have a tendency to be sick during long journeys. My little princess is especially affected by motion sickness. Through the years we have developed a few strategies to avoid her feeling sick.

  • Give her a lollipop. Yes, a “chupa chup” will slowly release sugar into her bloodstream and this will help her feel better.
  • Decrease your speed on bendy roads - taking turns at high speed is the worst thing you can do for someone with motion sickness.
  • Open the window where the child is seated. Sometimes just sticking her fingers out of the window, and feeling the fresh air can calm down her upset tummy.
  • Feed your child lightly before the trip. Avoid copious meals.
  • Entertain her. I have noticed that whenever she is entertained; singing, talking and laughing to others, she simply forgets about motion sickness.

  • Avoid reading. If your child reads during the trip, this will increase her motion sickness.

  • You can try special anti motion sickness syrup from the chemist. Here you do not need a prescription for them and they come specially flavoured for children.

  • If your child likes it, you can give her some candied ginger as it stops nausea.

  • Always have a plastic bag ready in case everything else fails. My daughter once had to use my newly bought sun hat… not a good idea!

Travelling by Car with Young Children

2) If your child has no issues with travel sickness he will enjoy watching his favourite films during a long drive. Even my little hooligan can sit in the car for more than 3 hours at a time if he is watching his favourite movies.

3) Have some snacks ready for the children so you do not need to stop for sweeties every time you pass a gas station. Besides buying your sweeties and snacks before travelling it is much cheaper than buying them on the road. In France, a 500g bag of Smarties individually wrapped in small boxes costs 2 euros in the supermarket as opposed to 2,50 euros each box in the gas stations. The same goes for drinks like fruit juices that you can store in a cool bag in your car.

4) Have long driving breaks. In Spain, France, Italy and the UK there are special areas on the motorway where you can stop for a rest. If weather permits it is much better to go for a picnic so the children do not need to sit again in a restaurant to eat. Instead, they can run around and enjoy the freedom of picnicking.

5) If your child is interested, give him a map to follow the route. Ask him to participate by looking for signs like Hotel signs, restaurants or parking. This will make the journey less boring for them.

6) My children get very excited about tunnels and bridges. I ask them to count how many we pass and to spot the next one. This also keeps them entertained.

7) Make sure your children are safe and comfortable in the car. Use car seats appropriate for their age. If they are comfortable they will be able to stand a longer journey without interruptions.

8) We have tried driving during the night, while the children are sleeping, but it didn’t work out very well for us. When the children wake up in the morning all bouncy and full of energy, we are just desperate to have a good nap… which of course is not possible!

Travelling by Boat .

I have never done a cruise with my children, so I will omit any advice about cruising with children. Our “water” experiences are limited to short boat trips and ferries.

The most important thing about travelling by boat with young children is security. If you are travelling during a lovely day it would be nice to travel on the deck as children will love to see the sea, the islands and if you are lucky some sea life like dolphins and whales. Being entertained looking for sea life will have the added benefit of making them forget about motion sickness. Never leave your children alone without adult supervision on the deck. It does not matter how safe it looks, don’t do it!

If the weather is not good and you are travelling in a cabin let your children entertain themselves by taking some photos. If the trip is short then, preferably, do not feed them on board. Wait until you are on land to feed them.

Ferry Boat Royan-France

Ferry boat Royan-France
Ferry boat Royan-France | Source

Travelling By Plane

This is one of the most expensive and boring ways of travelling with children. Remember that after age 2, children (at least in Europe) pay full fare seats. So for a family of 4 you will have 4 adult seats.

  • Most airports have a children’s area, but they are either too small or too boring for older children, so you can find yourself with the old ‘I am bored’ nagging at your ear during the two hour wait before boarding the plane. Intercontinental flights are very boring for most of us; so imagine a child having to endure 8 hours sitting from Paris to New York...not ideal is it?
  • If you want to do intercontinental trips, the best thing is to choose a nighttime flight. Even if it is more expensive it will be worth it as the flight time will coincide with your child’s bedtime which will allow you to have a rest as well. As a bonus, it will be easier for you and your children to get used to the local time when you arrive at your destination.
  • Let the airline know in advance that you are travelling with children. When you are booking your seats you can also book children’s meals and treat bags without extra charge. There are other advantages as well, like boarding the plane first and getting better seats.
  • You can also give your children their own little suitcase to carry along on the plane. The suitcase will serve to pack a thin cardigan, in case it turns cold on board, and also their books or toys for the plane. As a bonus, having to carry their own baggage will slow them down so they will not be running in the airport!
  • Make your children wear a little badge or carry a card in their pocket with their name, address, nationality and contact number. The card can become very useful if the child gets lost.

Good luck and enjoy your vacation!


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