Last year I posted this post about how to keep children entertained on a long train journey with children. We went on a five hour adventure with our children and it wasn't half as bad as we had both expected! We have also flown to France nearly every year since the kids were born and have clocked up tens of thousands of miles on my car visiting family all over the UK. These are my top 5 tips for holidays with children.
1. Don't panic. The kids will smell your fear and will make your life hell. Trust me! There's lots that can go wrong, so don't worry about it in advance and deal with it calmly if and when it happens!
2. Prepare. I would recommend packing a special bag for each child for the journey with one small new toy, a new sticker book and some snacks in. Don't let them open them until they are on the plane/train or in the car. I have found that a brand new toy keeps them entertained for longer than one they already have. I do the same for the return journey and buy another new toy (generally one for under £5). It's definitely worth it. Below is what we took on the train with us. Three sticker books, some finger puppets, two small Moshi Monster toys and some fruit stars. Unfortunately we hadn't realised the Moshi Monsters squeaked. The other passengers weren't so keen, but the kids loved them! We won't make that mistake again!
3. Bring technology. A phone/ipad/tablet/dvd player to keep them entertained whilst on holiday. You will get rainy days, or time when foreign television simply won't keep them entertained for 15 minutes and your own technology will definitely help you out here. Last year in France we had no working TV or DVD player but luckily I had downloaded a few films and episodes of their favourite TV shows before we left. It was perfect for that half hour before bed when they need calming down!
4. Routine. It's tempting to throw the routine out of the window, and if that works for you, then go for it. However, I have always found that sticking to a similar routine to the one you have at home helps the kids to adjust to their new surroundings and also ensures you have plenty of time to drink wine in the evenings!
5. Relax. You're on holiday. It's time to sit back and let the kids play. It's easy to expect too much of a holiday, but fundamentally, they exist for you to wind down, recharge your batteries and take a break. It won't be fun if you aren't relaxed - for you or anyone else!
So, those are my five top tips. I would also recommend taking some neurofen or calpol in case your child is ill. It is far easier to pack it than to try and find it somewhere in the middle of the night in a country you are not used to.
This is my entry into the Mark Warner Quarterly Blogger Challenge.