Life is stressful enough without having to deal with bored children so whenever we travel any distance I always go prepared. And yes I did used to be a Girl Guide!
How to keep little ones occupied on a plane/train/in the car
Thankfully that old adage ‘children should be seen and not heard’ is well out of fashion and I love to chat with my little ones.
I do, however, like a bit of peace and quiet and especially on long journeys when chatting can quickly turn into arguing and competition for attention.
- This is where the
travel bag is essential.
We take one or two travel bags with us on planes, trains, in the car and even into restaurants if we think that we may have to wait quite a while for food to arrive. The travel bag is often left in the car boot so it’s easy to grab whenever the need arises.
Here is a list of essentials for the parent travel bag:
Create a named folder for each child. Once you are safely ensconced in your seat you can hand each child their folder so that they can choose their own activities.
In each folder you could pack the following:
- An age-appropriate colouring book – my children love the Usborne Doodle books
- Crayons or washable colouring pens; those with a colour at each end are ideal
- A sticker book that relates to something they love, such as Lego, animals etc.
- An age-appropriate activity/puzzle book
- A pencil
- A reading book – chose something that inspires them and for little ones possibly a book with ‘things to spot’ that will hold their interest if they can’t yet read
- A tablet or hand-held game, if they are old enough
- A small toy
- A selection of snacks (in your bag so that you can police them!) is an absolute must. On a recent trip abroad we had one child wailing ‘I don’t want to get on the aeroplane’ at full volume for ten minutes before we realised that she was just hungry and grumpy.
In my experience sweets are a complete no no, it may just be my children, but their behaviour is always adversely affected by eating sweets. Instead I pack little snack packs, such as mini biscuits, dried fruit and fruit jellies. Bottles of water are a good idea too (though you will need to buy these after passport control of course if you are travelling by plane.)
Again, it may just be my children but they are incredibly messy and so wet wipes and a light change of clothes is essential. I usually pack a plain t-shirt just large enough for any of them to wear plus spare undies/leggings for the little ones. A plastic bag is a good idea for messy clothes or for anyone who’s feeling queasy.
I also take a pack of activity cards, so when the novelty of their folder wears off we can play verbal games, such as I Spy, Consequences and Squish Squash (you may have a better imagination than me but I find these cards really useful prompts.)
And finally, ear plugs….only kidding!
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