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You’re off on summer holiday and you’re really, really looking forward to some relaxation or at the very least a few work-free days [NB due to modern technology you may find that you are able to check work emails while away. Avoid the temptation as much as possible, even if it means basing your entire holiday choice on wi-fi blackspots]. Firstly, though, you need to get to your holiday destination. Travel with children can be interesting. The important thing is to plan for the worst case scenario and then everything less than this is a bonus. Workingmums.co.uk has some tips.
1. Travel as light as possible, but pack for the occasional emergency, eg, five hours spent in the departure lounge or on the M25. In terms of medical equipment, take the basics and buy anything else when you get to your destination. It may be cheaper there. If you are going to a resort, research the nearest discount supermarket and how you can get to it. Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. Bearing in mind the inaccuracy of many weather reports, pack one item of rain-associated wear per child.
3. Implement a Ryanair-type baggage restriction on children. You could even create a baggage check box so you can restrict the size and weight of their luggage and make it a kind of game. NB go through all their packing and weed out the things they have packed on the basis that they played with it last and suggest alternatives which are 1) lightweight 2) you know they will play with 3) do not require batteries and 4) do not look like suspicious items in a customs x-ray machine.
4. Bring something to do on the trip to keep them occupied. Again, consider lightweight items like comic books or puzzle books. These are not only easy to pack and carry, but have the added bonus of keeping them potentially busy for hours. You could pack a couple of items like a magazine and a pack of cards in a special holiday surprise bag to add to the overall excitement. Get them to make up their own games too, but make sure the rules are simple and they don’t keep changing them as this could cause the dreaded sibling rivalry which blights many a trip.
5. Make use of travel paraphernalia available to you such as the in-flight magazine for potential games like guess the price of the duty free items or guess the destinations highlighted. If the plane gets stuck on the tarmac for hours you may have to be especially inventive.
6. Bring snacks in case of emergency, but make sure they are not thirst inducing. Even if you have packed lots of drinks, the potential for a toilet emergency will be high and the likelihood of this occurring in the middle of a traffic jam on the middle lane of the motorway is high.
7. Bone up on travel games. Youtube has probably got a whole channel devoted to them that the kids can swot up on beforehand. Ensure that any musical selection includes one of your own favourite CDs so you are not subjected to Thomas the tank engine on a loop as this could be your enduring memory of the holiday. Create some kind of dance routine to your own songs so that everyone sees them as fun, although NB this will not work on teenagers for whom you are essentially a cringe-making embarrassment to humanity. Under no circumstances allow your partner, if you have one, to take charge of the CD selection if you don’t want to spend the entire journey listening to obscure music from his youth. Convince them that a collaborative approach is best, even if they think their musical taste is infinitely superior to yours.
8. Break up the journey regularly unless everyone is asleep. On no account wake up sleeping children as they are unlikely to be in a good mood and not good moods can last a very long time in a confined space – or at least it feels like it.
9. Ensure that every time you pass a toilet you check no-one needs to go. You will only regret it if you don’t.
10. Always carry wet wipes as well as emergency receptacles in case of toilet, sickness and other disasters.
Picture credit: digitalart and www.freedigitalphotos.net.