Travelling tips with kids: Tips on how to prepare before travelling with kids & free activity pack
Updated: Apr 15
I have teamed up with Mireia from @discoveryplaytime to bring you a series of posts on travelling tips with kids. This series of post originally were posted to my Instagram page @playwithmemammy last year (2021) and I have put them into one blog so that they are all together.
The idea around the series is to give you practical tips on how to prepare before travelling with kids. These will be tips that you can use on the go, if you get stuck in traffic or even if it starts to rain! (We all know how much Ireland loves the rain!). We also have a free 13 page activity pack with lots of fun things to keep the kids busy in the car, on a plane or where ever you are.
The aim is to help ease any stress that could arise while travelling with kids and help keep the kids busy and happy when obstacle are throwing in our direction. We all know how impatient hungry kids get when they are waiting for their dinner in a restaurant!
These tips we will be sharing are things we have done with our own children while travelling which helped make the whole experience less stressful so we want to share these with you.
Preparation is the key. You might not need all the tips we will be suggesting but it's always good to be over prepared.
Travelling tips with kids: Device tips
I was a mothers who swore my kids wouldn't own a tablet before they were born but let's face it they can be a life saver! A little bit of screen time never hurt anyone! Here are our tips on when it comes to devices when travelling with kids.
48 to 24 hours before travelling make sure all current downloads are up to date and device updates are done. Download some new movies or TV programmes from Netflix or Disney that your child enjoys. Always make sure you watch them first to ensure they are age appropriate. Delete any movies/programmes they are no longer interested in.
24 hours before travelling ensure all devices are fully charged.
Download some new educational & interactive games. Always play any new games first to make sure it is age appropriate and that your child will be able to play it with out adult help. Nothing worse than downloading a new game and realise it doesn't work! Get games that follow your child's interests. Some games have mini games within them and these are great as they give more variety. Free games are just as good as paid ones! Watch out for in house purchase on games and always delete your card details off devices after finishing downloading what you want. I made that mistake before
Audio books are great too on devices especially for long car journeys. Dee Hollhan has a great playlist of children's audio books on Spotify.
Tonies box is a good one too for listening to stories in the car or where your staying that night.
We avoid kids YouTube because if WiFi is bad it can lead to frustrated kids so we always avoid things that WiFi is solely required for.
We still use our portable DVD player and the boys love taking it on our trips.
Headphones! Make sure you have headphones for each kid.
Use a separate bag for devices and store headphones, chargers, and all devices in the one bag, saves on time and you know where everything is!
In case of emergencies and we happen to forget ipads or they die (which can happen!) I have a few games and Disney downloaded on my phone, just incase!
Have you any good device tips you have that helps when travelling with kids? If so leave them in the comments below.
Best toys to take on a holiday:
Miriea talks about what the best toys to take with you. Nobody wants to carry unnecessary items on a holiday, but at the same time you need to make sure you have enough. These are a few toys that will definitely keep your child busy at different times, you just need to choose when it is the right time to take them out.
Drawing – Drawing pads, notebook and crayons, colouring book, wipe-clean activity books, magic drawing pads (the one that has pictures and a pencil where you add water and when you wet the picture the colour pops out). I personally find the drawing pad amazing. Kids can draw with a little pen (or with their nails) and with the click of a button the picture disappears, and they can draw again!
Fidgets – They are so engaging and relaxing. Linking discs, sensory bottle, spinner, popper… They all keep their little hands busy and it is a great activity to release some stress when they have to be sitting down for a while.
Family games – Card games take very little space and they can be so much fun to take with you when spending a full day (or more) out. They are perfect for quiet times as everyone needs a little rest at some stage. Uno cards, snap cards, mimic games…
Outdoor toys – Sand bucket and tools, a ball, bubbles… These toys always help to make the most of your trip! If it’s a one day trip there is no harm in keeping them in the car “just in case!”
Books – Quick trip to the library before heading away on a holiday will help you to get a few new books your kids haven’t seen before so they will really enjoy looking at the different pictures and discovering new stories.
I find the shop Flying Tiger a great place to gather some little toys to take with you. Having a few new items will be very engaging for the kids. The Orchard toys range (you can buy from @discoveryplaytime) can be great for traveling too as they offer fantastic value and good variety of little games and colouring books easy to carry everywhere.
What toys do you always take with you when travelling? Let us know in the comment section below.
Busy Bags :
What is busy bags I hear you ask?
A busy bag is a little bag/lunchbox of toys or activities that will keep your child busy for a certain amount of time.
Why are busy bags effective?
If you have your busy bags prepared before a trip, they are handy to wip out at a moment when you feel your child is getting impatient, frustrated or annoyed at waiting ( ie. Dinner, traffic jam etc). It allows them to focus on the activity inside the bag rather than what they are waiting on.
How to make a busy bag?
Think about what you already have in your home or what they are interested in. Use some toys/activities you might have put away that way they will become completely new again. Think about things that will hold their attention long enough. Put each activity/toy into separate zip locked bags/lunchbox so that each activity can be found easily and that they don't all get mixed up.
You could also put in small puzzle/puzzle book, wipe able books, some small toys in the bag, small travel board games, cards and tattoos. We love taking tattoos with us, easy to put on with a baby wipe and take off with a baby wipe too!
I always have a separate bag (little kids backpack) were I hold all the individual busy bags and activities so they are all in one place and easy to take with you. You don't need to take massive amounts with you, but do think about a variety of things. For dinner we usually take 4-6 busy bags/activities with us and for longer trips between 12-14 busy bags/activities. We also take our tablets and DVD player with us, see our device tips post that we have a previous posted.
Check out the original post over on Instagram to see the videos on DIY busy bags click here
Let us know in the comments below if you make busy bags and what your little one likes to do while waiting.
This is the last post in our series of travelling tips with kids with Myself and Mireia. You can also find the 5 posts all together in the guide section of my Instagram page.
Snacks & juice:
Don't know about you but the minute my boys get in the car an almighty hunger comes over them! Nothing makes a car journey feel ten times longer than hearing 'I'm hungry' ten million times! I always pack a lunch for them even if it's only a half hour car journey. We use a lunchbox with a variety of snacks, try avoid or limit high sugar snacks as the last thing you need is hyper kids in the back! I always fill a 2lt bottle with juice too and leave it in the boot. This can come in very handy in the summer when the car can get very hot.
We always start our road trips with car games as everyone is excited and full of enthusiasm including the adults!
We talked about library books above in the section 'toys to take for a trip'. It's handy to keep a few library books for the car especially ones they haven't seen before as this will hold their attention for longer. If you don't have library books maybe take some books they haven't seen in awhile that why it is making them new again.
Stabilo 3-1 pencil are great fun for car windows as they easily wipe off. Suction toy items are fun for the window too taking them on and off. Jelly window stickers can also be used on the window. We avoid any normal stickers in the car because the window is the first place they will stick them and boy are they hard to get off again!
You don't need a massive amount of toys in the car, you could use some of your busy bags but be careful what you give then as things tend to fall on the floor! The voice recorder from @discoveryplaytime is great fun for the kids to use in the car.
We always try and leave the tablets to last when everyone is getting tired and you have used all up your energy at the start if the trip. See above on device tips post for more information.
Last year I slowly introduced the boys to packing their bags on their own. I make a really simple check list for them to tick off, picture, word, how many & a tick box. I started with only 3 things originally way back in the summer & built it up over time. They both now can independently pack their own bags.
The boys go through the list one thing at a time, pick out what they need/want, lay it on the bed/ floor and tick it off. On my 4 year olds list he has the same amount of boxes as the numbers to help him count. By laying it on the floor/bed I can have a quick check without them knowing & can direct them if they are missing something. When they pack everything in, I don't check as I've already glanced over it when it was layed out. Very simply idea to promote independent, responsible, care for themselves, give them control over what clothes to put in the bag (eliminates tantrums over my choice of clothing), gives them free choice, learn valuable life skills, improve self esteem and teamwork as my 7 year old when he is finished helps his brother out. Bonus it's one less thing for me to do!
I've shared this idea plenty of times on my story over the last year and I always get at least 5 comments wondering if it works on husbands!!!! I can only confirm it works on kids 🤭
Free Hoilday fun activity pack:
The boys and I worked together to create this holiday pack. They love, I spy type games so with this in mind, we created some pages around this. The activity pack is geared at school aged children but parts of it can be used for younger children. We hope there is something inside it for everyone. We will definitely be using it in the car, camping and of course after all it is Ireland so it will come in handy if/when it rains!
To download click the link below
This link has now expired
We really hope you enjoyed our series and don't forget to check out out Instagram pages @playwithmemammy and @discoveryplaytime. If you have any tips you would like to share please do in the comment section.
We hope you have a great holiday where ever you go.