A straw poll of my friends tells me that most of them will be taking a family holiday this year. During the winter months, I can’t think of a better time of the year to jet off for a winter sun break; warm your bones and enjoy some time away from the hectic festivities. A summer family holiday can come in all shapes and sizes. We like to hire a cottage in Cornwall for a few weeks, or hop on a plane for some guaranteed sunshine.
Sadly, I often think that trying to grab a break away with the family can feel like more trouble than it’s worth. By the time I’ve done all the washing and sorted out all the things you need to pack, I’m almost entirely fed up with the idea of going away.
Whether you’re going near or far, here are my top tips for packing and also keeping your kids entertained on planes, trains and automobiles.
Packing for your family holiday –
1. Keep a packing list on your computer, the things you always need to take, clothes, underwear, hairbrush etc. print it off and use it each time you go away as a check-list.
2. Travel light, or as light as you can. If there is a washing machine available you can plan to do a wash or two while you’re away. Yes it’s a domestic chore but I’d rather wash than pack half of my wardrobe.
3. Check the weather forecast before you go, it won’t be 100% accurate, but you’ll have an idea of what kind of weather to expect and consequently what kind of clothes you’ll need to pack.
4. Wherever you go in the world they will most likely have shops there. So it’s not the end of the world if you forget to pack toothpaste!
5. Don’t forget to bring a few of your child’s favourite things to help them settle. A book, a toy, a puzzle and their favourite snuggly for bedtime!
Entertaining kids on a journey –
If you’re in your own car then it’s often easier. You have your own space and you don’t have to worry so much about disturbing other passengers. We’re big fans of audiobooks and CDs for the car so we can have a family sing along. Planning a “spotting game” is always good. Ticking off when you see a bus, a lorry, a smoking chimney, that kind of thing. When all of your efforts are exhausted, we break out the portable DVD player. Nearly 2 hours of battery life and a pair of headphones are enough to restore tranquillity to the car.
Trains and planes are good for quiet games, such as the Shopping List game from Orchard Toys, Dobble or even Snap! If the kids are old enough some quiet time reading their favourite book can be good.
Whilst we do try and generally limit screentime; playing a game on a tablet, smartphone or hand-held gaming device could be a good way to wile away a bit of a long journey. Plus it will give you a break from endless games of I-Spy and Snap!
Travel is always a great learning experience for children no matter what age they are. Talking to them about where you are going and why, as well as what you might see or do there.
Getting the kids involved and invested in the planning of day trips and things to do whilst you are there is a great idea. It can help minimise whining if they’ve had to plan it. Showing them pictures of the famous landmarks in the area and maps of where you are going is good fun. Talking about currency and what the exchange rate is are all fantastic things to do. These not only get them prepared for their holiday but can also help to develop a whole range of skills and knowledge for later on.
Are you going away this year? What are your plans? What are your family holiday packing essentials?