Unless you live right near Disneyland then when you organize your holiday, you know that it means you are going to have to take into account how to get there. There are two issues that you need to deal with. The first is what transportation method you’ll use and the second is how you will keep your young children amused on the way. There is no denying that traveling with children is a whole new test of your parental ingenuity.
Do the scout/girl guides thing and be prepared with backups and lots of distractions. Who knows maybe by following these tried and true tips you’ll arrive triumphant at the other end…OK, maybe not triumphant but perhaps you’ll manage to keep your cool the whole way and that is something!
Here are 12 things you need to carry with you and not in the trunk or luggage hold:
1. A change of clothes for each child and socks (it can get cold on airplanes and the socks provided don’t come in any size other than big).
2. Extra clothes for you in case of spills.
3. Tissues (can you ever have too many where young children are concerned?), a few empty plastic bags (to contain any smelly nappies and dirty clothes) and a face washer. Take a Ziploc bag for the face washer so that when it’s wet, not everything else in your bag gets damp.
4. Variety of snack food (cereal, sultanas, crackers, fruit etc) in Ziploc bags. If you’re on a plane, the food never comes quickly or often enough and if you’re in a car, you can guarantee a child will be hungry 15 minutes after you departed.
5. Drink bottles – disposables are handy but sometimes having the comfort of a familiar drink bottle makes it worth taking your child’s with you. It depends a bit on the child and how adept they are at drinking from a regular bottle.
6. A new toy for each child – something they haven’t seen before and won’t see until you get going and they start to get restless. Make it something that isn’t noisy, doesn’t take batteries (or if it does, take some spares), that they can interact with, that doesn’t require your involvement to put it back together if it falls apart and that isn’t made up of a million pieces that can get lost down the back of the seat. A tall order I know but I can tell you from experience that it’s worth spending a bit of time choosing something that fits the bill.
7. A couple of books, preferably one or two new ones.
8. Balloons – they don’t take up much space and are perfect for that transit stop that seems to take forever. There is nothing like a child chasing a balloon to make everyone feel that bit better and lighter about life. The other thing to do with balloons is to blow them up and then let the air out slowly with the opening directed at the child. My children love this. They squint and turn their faces away and then double up with laughter and shout ‘more, more’. Again this may require a bit of discretion because the noise of an exhaling balloon can be loud and well, unbecoming.
9. Bubble mix – another space saver that works a charm. Best saved for outdoors.
10. Drugs. I’m going to get controversial here as I know this isn’t a choice everyone is comfortable with but drugs to help children sleep, especially on long haul flights, can be an absolute lifesaver – for you and the child. Taking children across many time zones in a steel capsule with an uncomfortable chair for a bed isn’t their choice for a good night’s sleep, so make it easier for them by helping them to get some rest. It means you will all arrive in better shape.
11. A favorite toy or sleep buddy (preferably something small) can be an enormous comfort to an over-tired or stressed child.
12. And lastly don’t forget to take something to read for yourself. You never know they may sleep or watch a movie and you could be left wondering what to do with yourself. Nothing too ambitious or bulky. A magazine or short story should do the trick
What should you put it all in? If you have to do any walking, a daypack is best because it won’t slip off your shoulders, leaves both hands free and has lots of compartments so you can find things, like your wallet, in a hurry.
If this list sounds like a lot to you, believe me when I say that being prepared can make all the difference between a never-ending ordeal and an unusual, possibly pleasurable way to pass time.