Travelling with kids

Holidaying with kids can be fun - here’s how to plan for long journeys by plane or car

Before you go

  • When booking flights, consider when to fly. Leaving at night makes sleep more likely for young children.
  • Transit stopovers can work if you’re going a long way. If you only have one change of planes, it’s often best to press on.
  • Consider alternatives to hotels. Perhaps rent a place with a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen and laundry facilities. Do an online search for alternatives.
  • You’ll have to wash clothes no matter what, so take enough for a week and leave some items to chance.
  • There are books and apps to prepare kids for airports and flying.

Getting there

  • When flying, some parents prepare goody bags for their neighbours, but really just make it clear to other passengers that you are doing your best.
  • Bring pain relief and something to help with ear pressure – such as lollipops or drinks with a straw.
  • If you are breastfeeding, offer a feed during ascent and descent.
  • On a plane trip, food is your friend. You can take your own snacks, along with an empty bottle to fill up once you clear security.
  • On-board meals will keep kids happy for ages; be sure to make any special requests ahead of time if any of the children have allergies.
  • Break up the trip with treats – a Kinder Surprise or a sticker book will work well for young children.
  • Don’t take toys that roll – they will end up under someone else’s seat.
  • If your child has a special toy, bring it.
  • If you have a tablet computer, load it with apps. Older kids will love watching movies, while younger children will relish one-on-one time with you.
  • If you’re driving, an eight-hour drive might be four two-hour blocks punctuated with playground rest stops.
  • You might spend an hour of each block playing games such as I-spy and spotto, then have a snack and let the kids watch a movie or read a book.

When you arrive

  • Remember the formula for happy kids at home and apply it at the destination. That might be playgrounds, ice cream or a hands-on museum.
  • Your kids are resourceful, they can manage with a couple of treasured items.
  • Toys that spark the imagination will keep kids busy for longer – such as Lego, an inflatable ball or art supplies.
  • Rigid itineraries are hard to keep, make a long list to finalise after arrival.
  • Let the kids help make plans if they are old enough. If they feel invested in what you’re doing they are more likely to behave and enjoy themselves.
  • You could offer a choice between two activities or tell them about the area and work out what appeals to them.