This week I thought I'd share my tips for travelling with kids, being that last week was our big road trip to Ireland. We drove 5 hours from our house in Surrey to Wales, then took a two hour ferry to Dublin where we stayed for four nights. After that we drove 2 and 1/2 hours to Cork where we spent three nights. The most difficult part of the journey was the drive back as it involved a 5am start from Cork, 2 and 1/2 hour drive to Dublin, 90 minute ferry trip, followed by the 5 hour drive in the UK. Poor Jonathan was exhausted! :( But honestly it was so worth it. Having our own car, not having to deal with the stress of airport security, arriving way ahead of time, the flight itself and so on...I definitely recommend driving if you can manage it!
I am by no means an expert on travelling with children but we do it quite a lot and everytime I feel like I learn a little more. So here are my tips for now on what I've learned and what works for us!
1. Make a packing list for each child. This was something I covered in my packing video so if you want more detail on what I do you can go ahead and watch that! I seriously can't stress enough how much a packing list helps...and not just one massive list. You need to make one for each child otherwise it gets overwhelming. What I like to do is refer back to previous lists everytime we travel because they almost always end up being very similar. If it helps you can also bring the list with you on holiday so that you have it to use when you're re-packing everything back up. That way you won't forget anything or leave it in the hotel!
2. Bring a sh*t-tonne of snacks. Like, seriously...I mean loads. Believe me when I say they will run out and it will happen fast! I would say about half an hour into our road trip my two had already devoured almost half the stash I brought! Thankfully I packed way more than I originally had anticipated bringing so we were okay but by the time we reached Ireland everything was gone! What I really should have done is re-stocked in a Tesco or Dunnes Stores on our visit but I stupidly kept forgetting to! On our way I had packed fresh and dried fruit, Organix snacks, YoYos/bear paws/dino paws (fruit snacks) and water. Oh and another thing to remember when packing snacks? The BIN BAG and some wipes!! Because there will be a lot of waste and sticky fingers ;)
3. This is a hard one but my advice is to try and keep the routine as much as possible. I know it's so much easier said than done, trust me. But even if you try to just keep bedtime and wake-time the same as normal it helps a lot. Otherwise you're just going to have two (or however many kids you have!) very cranky, whingey children which isn't nice for you or them! We've had trips when the bedtimes have just got out of hand, so I speak from experience and I know how difficult it is! But I think if you're quite strict about it from the get-go and just explain to other family members/friends how important it is that they're in bed by a certain time they will definitely understand. Emilia and Eduardo are over the napping stage which makes it a bit easier as we don't have to adhere to that schedule anymore but I've found that if your baby/toddler naps you can get away with doing that in the buggy/car or on the go.
4. Don't overpack toys, books and things they use at home especially when you're going to be doing activities and/or visiting family. Obviously this is different if you're getting on a plane, train or bus where you'll need toys and things to distract them on long journeys (though iPads are a life-saver for this!). But I have made the mistake of over-packing toys far too many times...then we visit family & friends, the kids get loads of presents and we're left with zero packing space. Oops. Even this time, I brought far too many books. Once we're on holiday the kids are often so exhausted by the time bedtime rolls around that they don't even want/need a story. The key toys I bring are the comfort ones they sleep with for bedtime, some sort of entertainment for the journey (we had our car so we brought DVDs) and that's it.
5. This tip may only apply to me, I don't really know. But if you're anything like me and tend to sometimes stress about the kids' healthy eating going out the window whilst on holiday...don't. It's not worth it. I used to get so upset when they wouldn't eat certain things or would revert back to all of a sudden being fussy eaters at mealtimes in restaurants or hotels. Now I know it's normal and sometimes when their routine is all out of whack, all kids want to eat are the same three foods over & over. And that's okay. Something I've learned is that if you are getting stressed out and it's affecting your mood & holiday, just drop it. I'm pretty sure there were days in Ireland when my two didn't consume one vegetable. But now that we're back home and their routine has gone back to normal they are good little eaters again! I think part of it is a comfort thing; everything else is out of the ordinary so they only want certain foods that they are used to and anything else seems scary or unfamiliar. I mainly try to keep their snacks to healthy fruit (like at home) if I can and then I don't stress too much about the other stuff.
I hope these tips help you! I tried to think up what would genuinely help me if I was looking for this kind of information...travelling with kids is not easy but if you're a tiny bit organised, pre-plan some stuff beforehand and commit to enjoying yourself as a family & not getting stressed out you will be fine :)