Posted on 15 March 2010 by Dan Johnson
One of the hardest parts of any holiday can be the journey, especially if you’re travelling with young children. The dreaded cry of “are we nearly there yet?” is a staple of any joke about family travel, but it’s not laughing matter for parents who have so much to think about.
Whether negotiating a busy airport or embarking on a long drive, we have collected many ideas for keeping your little ones entertained, interested, or asleep – whichever suits you best!
And please add your own tips and ideas so we can share them with other readers.
Travelling with toddlers
When travelling with a toddler, try to plan your journey so that they are tired out when you set off. That way, you can guarantee you’ll get some peace before you need to start entertaining them.
If your little one doesn’t drop off that easily then prepare your in car entertainment! New toys and books with multi-images per page, with funny noises, textures and flaps to open and shut will occupy your toddler for longer. Colouring books and pencils or crayons are also a must.
Plan your stops
If you’re travelling by car, work out when your toddler is likely to need a break and work out your motorway exits. If it’s a long trip you’re going to need a couple or even more, which will probably add an hour or two on to your journey. Yes, the journey will take longer, but at least your toddler will burn off some energy running around the service stations (which are fabulous in France) and you can relax with a cup of tea and a croissant. French motorways also have toilet stops every few kilometres.
Choose your music
All kids love music and in a car especially, it’s a great way to keep them occupied. All right, so you were hoping to listen to Michael Buble rather than the Pirate Club hits, but at least this way you’ll have a quiet life.
If you prefer to fly-drive, there are a few things to consider.
Protecting your child’s ears on the plane
Taking off and landing can be painful for both adults and children. Allow your tot to suck either your breast, bottle or chew a gum during take off and landing since pressurisation of the cabin on take off and depressurisation on landing is tough on little ears. The flight attendants are usually very helpful on all flights about providing blankets for privacy if you ask.
Some popular ways of preventing ears from getting blocked during the flights are:
Hot Towels: place one hot towel over each ear. The heat expands the air in the middle ear relieving the negative pressure on the eardrum.
Blowing: if your toddler knows how to, get them to blow through their nose, while you hold the nostrils closed. This pops the ears and relieves the pressure.
Screaming: this is the easiest for toddlers to do, despite being annoying for others. Screaming in fact reduces the pressure on your toddler’s eardrums and eases the pain.
When travelling to Europe it is very easy to get hold of the usual baby items such as nappies and food, so don’t worry about filling up the car with two weeks worth of supplies.
You can also hire out many of the essential items, including travel cots, baby baths, buggies and high chairs from as little as 50p per night.
What are your top tips for keeping kids entertained on the holiday journey?