Travelling with kids

With the beginning of the new year, many of our friends have started planning their holidays ahead. Several requests on how to make travelling with kids more enjoyable have found themselves into my inbox. After 10,000 km and six months throughout Europe in our van, the following has proven helpful. Bear in mind, every kid and every family is different, so what works for one, might be a complete disaster for another. Please feel free to add any tips you might have on this topic as a comment to this post.

Also, Wilson, our Fiat Ducato, is for sale. If you need a comfortable and reliable motor home to take you through Europe, get in touch!

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What do your boys do over the long travels in the car?

For long drives, timing the bulk of the driving with the kids’ nap time has proven invaluable. For us, this usually means heading off after lunch to get in a good two to three hours while the boys are having their nap. Then we have a break, stretch our legs, explore, make and have dinner, sometimes picnic on the beach and then drive on for another two to three hours, sometimes more if we aren’t tired.

How do you keep them occupied?

The few times we have had to drive while the kids were awake, every single entertainment trick on hand got its turn. It starts with a talk about what’s happening outside the window, goes on through endless books, some games that can be played while sitting in a car seat, singing songs, counting, finger games, snacks of course, more creative and fun snacks and talks about what to expect when we get to our destination.Towards the end, when all else fails, we sometimes pull out a DVD.

How many toys do you travel around with?

Not much, compared to what accumulates in the average family household, yet still a lot compared to what the vast majority of children in this world ever call their own. We left Sydney with a box of Noah’s favourite toys plus a few books. Noah’s granny also gave us a full box of Legos which has recently seen some fun additions thanks to Santa Clause. With the exception of books, Brio trains and Legos, most toys have quite a short occupation span. In other words they get boring fast. The kids seem to have much more fun with whatever natural item they can get their hands on out there – sticks, stones, sand, snow… there’s much more to it than ss.

What do you do with the kids when you get to places?

When we stop over in places, we either hang out with old or new friends, or explore. If the former provides for playmates, there’s nothing more to worry about. Children know no language, culture or racial barriers. They just get on with having a good time. If we go out to explore, we generally try to cater for the whole family. For example, we’d chose a museum which includes an area for kids, or a park with a playground, or a harbor where we can have an ice-cream after looking at boats or simply a lovely beach which always pleases everyone. Naturally, certain activities are out of reach with children, but on the other hand they open the door to so many other unique and unforgettable experiences. Most of all, seeing the world through their eyes makes even the simplest thing an amazing adventure.

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Overall I found that as long as we adjust to their schedule and respect their feelings and needs, just as we’d hope for ours’ to be met, it’s all good. Sometimes travelling with kids is pure and palpable joy, other times, it’s a great opportunity to practice patience, compromise and learn from and about each other. No matter what, it’s all worth it in the end as discovering new places and meeting new peoples expands one’s horizon and enriches one’s lives far and beyond what words can describe.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

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