‘Are we there yet?’. Well, no, we’ll never get there, because life is an existential journey whose only true destination is something we’re not going to go into right now, darling. But anyway, no. We’re not there yet.

Travelling with the little ones, we wouldn’t have it any other way, right? The soundtrack of endless enquiries and nursery rhymes, the feet kicking the back of your seat again, the in-car, old-school games whose rules are resolutely ignored…we wouldn’t have it any other way. Actually, we would. We’d follow this astute advice and hack our holiday with the kids for the better. Here are the IDEAL travel tips on how to holiday with children stress free.

PACK WISELY

Prior to parenthood, no one warned us about the amount of stuff you’d need to get through just one day with kids. Let alone, a whole damn holiday. Yet, counterintuitively, your holiday will be vastly improved, and the stress load lightened, by packing light and only bringing with you what you absolutely need. Of course, medical necessities, snacks, and entertainment are essential, but does the little one really need their lightsaber, superman cape and doll’s house? 

Indeed, with too many suitcases packed, you might lose sight of what’s important. Only the essentials, and you’ll make it easier for you to keep an eye on your children’s safety throughout the trip. Using carry-on luggage for your essentials can help smooth out the rough edges of your travel. Such a case makes for easy packing, easy access and a generally easier time.

If you consider using a piece of carry-on luggage for your quick grab items, make sure it has compartments as well as zip pockets, functioning wheels and a sturdy handle.

KEEP A ROUTINE IN PLACE…

It’s tough to placate the little ones on the longer stretches of road. Impromptu and carefree? Forget about it. It’s essential to have a plan of attack in place. As any parent will know, a significant disruption to a child’s routine can lead to grumpiness. Try to stick to their normal eating hours and bed time, and tailor your trip around it. Consider your kids’ daily routines and comfort zones when creating a travel itinerary that’s ideal for the family

…BUT LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM FOR SPONTANEITY

Yep, we realise we’ve just encouraged a militant, meticulous approach to penning your holiday’s itinerary, but it’s important that you leave some room for flexibility on your trip, too. Precision planning works, up to a point, but it can mess with the positive vibes of the trip if things are taken too literally. You know what it’s like with kids; a sudden urge to swim in a lake or have a picnic in the forest is certain to happen. It’d be a shame to deny that spontaneous spirit just because your hostel check-in specifies 6pm on the dot and you’re committed to following your itinerary rigid. Loosen up! This is meant to be fun, right?

SNACK SAVIOURS

Most children typically get hungry on long trips. And when this happens, if you’re not equipped with sustaining snacks, you might have to deal with unnecessary tantrums and meltdowns from your kids, which, in turn, is stressful for you. By bringing snacks along with you, you won’t be a slave to service station stops or expensive airport food. A little preparation goes a long way here, we think.

That’s why whether you’re taking a car ride or flying with your children, it’s essential to bring some healthy snacks designed to last the entire trip. These food choices might include whole-wheat crackers, cubes of cheese, grapes, raisins, and anything that makes them happy and full, of course.

LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU

Sure, we’ve spoken of micro managing several elements of your trip, to plan but not plan, to feed, to carry the load but not have it too heavy…but let’s face it here; the main pacifier on a trip is entertainment. This could take the form of old school I Spy if you’re on the move, or iPhone if you’re feeling lazy. Alternatively, if you’re stationary, a good old fashioned board game can be great fun on holiday. Keep things varied, above all else, and we’re sure you’ll keep the kids entertained.