Our friends at Travel Bear started their business to make journeys for parents and little ones easier with simple solutions that are made to last and really easy to use!
As a family, they love visiting new places and experiencing new things, and so wanted to share their family’s top 10 tips for travelling with kids to help your adventures run smoothly and create wonderful memories.
BEFORE YOU GO...
TIP 1 – Do your research!
When travelling with young children, never assume that a location will have the facilities you need, or that they will be in working order. We’ve lost count of the number of ‘out of order’ signs we’ve seen on baby changing/feeding rooms or closed cafes! The best facilities can sometimes be in unexpected places. Some popular fast-food restaurants might not be where you want to eat but often have clean and operational baby change and toilets.
TIP 2 – Expect the unexpected!
In our 20s we thought nothing of jumping in my little car and trundling up and down the M1 without really thinking about tyre pressures or oil levels. These days we have more than ourselves to think about and don’t even travel the 40 minutes to the grandparents’ without making sure we have coats and water in the car, should we break down. It is always best to be prepared and the AA has loads of travel tips, as well as the most up to date travel information.
TIP 3 – The ‘night before’ trick
For longer journeys we pack nearly everything the night before. Our mornings are crazy on the best of days so using a few hours after the kids are in bed to calmly pack our clothes, toys and toiletries means we can then enjoy ourselves and be excited for the trip. In our experience it also means we tend to forget fewer things!
Tip 4 – Pack in pods
If we’re taking a longer break, we tend to pack each person’s things into their own little bag within a larger bag. We’ve found these amazing packing cubes which not only keep everyone’s clothes separate but condense items down. We also have a larger cube for dirty clothes, so you know exactly what is clean and what is dirty, which is amazing when you’re camping!
Tip 5 – Less is more
Is it even a road trip if your car isn’t crammed full of all your belongings? We have the following policy: if you can’t cuddle, drink, or eat it, it’s not going on the back seat! This makes it much easier to keep the car clean and tidy and keeps everyone safe in the unlikely event of an accident where unsecured items can be dangerous. There are also lots of collapsible boxes and bins out there for the back of the car,.
Tip 6 – Build in some buffer time
If being on time is important to you or you really must be in a location for a specific time, such as trains, flights or ferries, it helps to build in some time to lose. In our house, that was30 minutes, as we were always half an hour late for everything! Then we remembered that my mother still tells my father they need to be in a location before they really need to be there. Strangely enough it’s 30 minutes for them too… could this be an inherited trait?!
ON THE ROAD
Tip 7 – In-car entertainment
We find it helps to have a journey strategy, specific to your journey time. For longer journeys, we know our kids will spend about half an hour quietly looking out of the window before the novelty wears off. At that point, we play something like ‘I Spy’, then the ‘Rainbow Car Game’. After a comfort break with some running around, we usually put on a film or programme for the remainder of the journey. The Travel Bear Phone & Tablet holder is great for this, keeping the electronic device securely in an elevated position to reduce travel sickness and improve their posture. It also means a bit of calm for us, so we arrive at our destination happy and unflustered!
Tip 8 – Easy to find essentials
Our youngest is still in nappies so we keep a changing kit, also containing spare clothes and plastic bags for wet items, at the front of the car boot. That way we can reach it without tipping the entire contents of the car onto a service station car park! It also helps to try and pack the car in the order you’ll need the items. For example, if you’re going to need the buggy at the first pit-stop, it should be the last thing you pack.
WHILE YOU’RE AWAY
Tip 9 – Save money and the planet
During the pandemic we started to take everything we needed for shorter trips with us. It turned out to be a lot cheaper and created a lot less waste, not to mention how much healthier and more convenient it was! Rex London has a great selection of cute, but ultra-functional kit, meaning your packed lunch will look so much better than anything you could buy on the go!
Tip 10 – Sleep well
Lack of sleep is the ultimate trigger for our family. No one has a fun day if they’re tired, especially not the grown-ups! When looking for a sleep solution, it helps to consider your own child as well as their age. For example, our eldest gets very cold in bed so a cover that stays put is a must, while our second child is a light sleeper so thick air beds are a no-no, as they create too much noise and wake her up! We love the choice that Bundle Beds offers, for children of all ages.
Finally, remember, it’s meant to be fun! Being late, forgetting things, getting lost...finding the comedy in moments of stress is what gets us through. If you can’t do it in the moment, try to let it go and enjoy the good times as they come.
We think if you consider some of these tips, you’re more likely to have a funny story to tell than a disastrous tale!
A huge thanks to the Travel Bear team for putting this together, If you have a holiday planned with the family, take a look at these easy games to play with kids on a long car journey, some ideas for activities to play whilst you're away and our tried and tested top ten products for toddler adventures.