No matter how old (or young) your children are nor how far (or near) you are travelling, the mere fact that you are proposing a coordinated family effort requires a round of applause at the very start. Well done you! Given our vast experience of car journeys, train travel, flights and even cruises, we at Kids in Madrid have boiled down the key factors to keep in mind to this magical list of ten tips for stress-free travelling.
Top ten tips for stress-free travelling
- Plan the route in advance. Imagine yourself in the car, on the train or at the airport with your family. What does the journey look like? Check out the place you are visiting via satellite photos on Google maps. Familiarize yourself with the landmarks and think about driving or walking around them to your accommodation.
- Make the journey sound exciting! Children of all ages react positively to an enthusiastic parent who entices them to think about the idiosyncrasies, the sights, the smells and the presence of the places they are either going to drive through or are headed towards.
- Work with flexible margins – you don’t want to miss a flight, nor have 3h to kill before a train is due to set off, but do allow for potential moments of self-indulgence like a coffee at the train station or a snack at the service station along the way.
- Have lots of treats See them not as tools for blackmail, but rather as rewards for good behaviour!
- Allow the kids to play games on the journey and wherever possible join in as a player yourself. Our travel essentials bag always includes Dobble and a pack of cards. Try not to interfere when tensions run high. The kids are probably just displaying the same low intensity bickering which they usually indulge in at home. It’s a good sign! They are comfortable enough to pick on each other.
- Always carry essential paperwork in a bum bag. Bum bags may not be trendy, they may not be attractive, but they are the most useful piece of luggage you can wish for. Where else can you carry your tickets, phone, money and that ubiquitous packet of Kleenex, hands-free?
- Download new content for yourself and your children – don’t reply on 4G or Wifi to provide streamed entertainment. Pre-select some goodies in the knowledge that at some point during the day you are going to be able to listen to a podcast or watch a series whilst your children are distracted by their latest YouTube fad or are glued to a film.
- Don’t forget to carry a spare outfit for yourself and your children. Kids will inevitably spill food, manage to lean against something dirty or generally get themselves grubby on a journey. They are also prone to spread mess to others, especially parents, hence the need for a plan B outfit for you too.
- Try not to wear your Sunday best when travelling! In our experience the best clothing to travel in is that you are most comfortable in, although we would draw a line at travelling in pyjamas – unless it is a toddler on an overnight journey, of course J.
- Use the fabulous Project Me worksheets to help program and carry out the best possible version of your travel plan. These downloadable sheets are easy to use and can be quite addictive! The more you put into preparing for the trip, the better result you are going to achieve.
Share your best travel tips below. We look forward to hearing them!
Check our travelling section out for more tips.