So, you planned your trip with military precision. You booked suitable accommodation ahead, checked whether there were steps down to the beach that would be a nightmare with the buggy, and you’ve jammed half the UK’s supply of wipes and a toy car in every colour in your handbag. Now you ‘just’ have to get through the journey itself…
Top tips for car journeys
- Audiobooks are brilliant for passing the time in a car and will save you from the dire fate of listening to your kids’ favourite tunes for hours (Baby Shark on loop. The HORROR.) We love Julia Donaldson’s stories, Paddington and Winnie the Pooh.
- Sometimes the old games are the best. I Spy will while away many happy miles, though for younger children it’s easier to play by colours rather than letters. One of Leanne’s sons ‘something beginning with G’ turned out to be ‘road’, after some pretty imaginative guesswork from the rest of the family.
- If you’re plagued by travel sickness – in which case, solidarity sister – avoid books and tablets and encourage children to look out of the front rather than the side windows. Don’t leave the driveway without what Candice calls ‘the bag of requirement’ including a full change of clothes (including underwear), a lesson she learned after a particularly dramatic bout of vomiting necessitated a hasty, mucky ASDA stop and a whole new outfit.
Top tips for airports
- Time, time, time. Try to keep your own stress levels low by allowing enough time for an eight-course banquet to eat a sandwich and enough time to read War and Peace in the bath for every loo break. We know it’s damn near impossible to hurry kids, so try to make sure you don’t have to.
- Make a spotter list of things to tick off in the airport. It’s a good way to get them moving when you do have to – they might see the next item on the list just around the next corner. You’ll probably need to offer a prize but try and keep the sugar levels in it low, so they’re not bouncing off the roof of the plane.
- Is there ever a moment as a parent when you think, “Hey, I actually DO have the number of hands I need right now?” If there is, we haven’t hit it yet. Backpacks make the best hand luggage for just this reason – because you need to hold little hands, push a buggy, find the passports, administer a swift wipe and rescue teddy from the floor at the same time.
Top tips for planes and trains
- Present kids with a different activity every hour. You can even present these as actual presents by wrapping each one up in bright paper. It will add to the excitement and – let’s face it – every precious extra moment they’re absorbed and busy is a bonus. To better hold their attention, we make sure they’ve never seen the books and busy bags we take on the plane before – the novelty buys us a few extra minutes.
- If you’re giving them a tablet to watch programmes or play games on, turn off the sound or give them earphones. Seriously. It’s highly unlikely your fellow adult travellers will be as enraptured as your kids are by Daddy Pig’s activities.
- Lollipops or something for kids to suck on are essential for take off and landing! Really helps with the ear popping (from the pressure) and lessens the chance of screaming.
- The climate on planes can vary wildly – one minute you’re all sweltering, and the next your teeth are chattering as the vicious air-con kicks in. Layer your kids up in soft clothing – even consider pyjamas, especially if it’s nap or bed time and you’re hoping against hope they might actually sleep – so they’re comfortable throughout.
- Our favourite My Busy Bots bags for travelling include “Are we there yet” (aptly named) and “Puzzled shapes”. With no mess, you won’t make enemies of the flight attendants. With no batteries required, there won’t be a meltdown because play has to stop. And as they’re reusable you don’t need a Plan B for the way home, saving you a panic-stricken sweep of a foreign airport at the holiday’s end.
And the one thing that got Candice through flying long-haul solo with two kids under four? Just keep thinking about how it CANNOT LAST FOREVER, even if it feels like it at times. At some point, in the not too distant future, the journey will be over, you can fix yourself a jazzy gin cocktail and the holiday can begin. It seems obvious but sometimes a little mental mantra – this, too, shall pass – is what you really need to get you through.
Happy – or at least relatively stressfree – travels!
Candice and Leanne x