When I was single and carefree going on road trips, I would say “I’ll just grab something to eat on the road”. But those days are well and truly over, as all parents now know! This is a must when travelling with kids… it can save us from a potential crisis, as hungry kids are meltdown kids! Here are some food and drink travel tips:
1) Keep food and drinks up front with you or at least in reaching distance. There is nothing worse on a car trip than screaming hungry kids when you cannot pull over to grab something from the boot!
2) I tend to pack special boxes of little nibblys for each child. They love having their own boxes of goodies and it keeps them quiet for quite some time! A win-win situation for everyone! I love kids’ lunch boxes with different sections in them, which I can then “top up” with other food items I keep in my zip lock bags. These lunch boxes also come in handy when we are at our holiday destination for taking on day trips etc.
3) If however, you are not a fan of taking containers – snacks in small zip lock bags are useful.
4) Remember not to take food that can stink out the car!! This can potentially cause motion sickness in kids (and us!).
5) Store food in a cooler bag with an ice pack to keep things nice and chilled. This is essential to keep food from going bad – especially in summer!
6) Use Stubby Coolers to keep milk for babies cold or hot (which ever the case may be) for a short time. This is perfect when you expect to feed your baby in the next hour or so and your bottle carrier is full with other full bottles for your car trip.
7) Bring plenty of fluids! I tend to bring lots of water bottles instead of soft drinks etc, as they can get sticky and can add to the sugar intake of the kids!
8) I am a bit more relaxed with my usual “not too much junk food” attitude. My thinking is one day of eating this kind of food is not going to harm them. I just watch their sugar intake … so they do not get too hyper!
9) Great snacks to take with you that are not too messy are:
pieces of fruit
pieces of cheese (stored in a cool bag)
carrot and celery sticks
little treats – chocolate, sweets, chips, lollypops (great as it takes them ages to suck on them which will ensure you peace and quiet for at least 5 mins!) Treats can also be used as prizes for your car games.
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Galapagos Marine Iguana
If you loved to travel and did a lot of this as a single person or young couple it’s easy to assume that having a family will end this, or at least change your travel plans for quite a while. When you backpack around the world as a young singleton, staying in hostels and taking short-term backpacker jobs, you may not be aware of many families with young children on the road. Does that mean they’re all staying home, or going to all-inclusive family-friendly resorts where opportunities for ‘real’ travel is limited? Not necessarily. There are plenty of families traveling the world with young children, and many of them actually find that having the kids in tow actually enriches their travel experience. Here are some of the reasons why traveling with your kids can actually exceed some of your pre-parenthood travels.
You get better value for moneyAnyone who has indulged in long-term budget travel will probably have already discovered that hitting the road for a year and acquiring experiences is actually often cheaper than staying home and acquiring stuff. Having kids invariably leads to an even higher level of consumerism. On the road with kids you cut down on the expenses of new clothes and toys (not to mention expensive childcare and extra-curricular activities) and replace them with priceless new, shared experiences which are often free or very cheap.
Many people are put off travel with a family, thinking that a family of four will spend four times as much as an individual traveller. That’s not usually the case. Babies and young children can fly almost free on most airlines if your child is young enough to share your seat (usually under two years old). If your kids are over two you will have to pay for flights(75% for international fares) but once on the road family travel can be pretty good value. In fact sometimes four (or more) can travel almost as cheaply as a couple.
Apartments, cabins or campsites often costs the same regardless of how many people there are in it, and certainly wilderness camping (often free or by donation in government maintained wilderness areas) is the same. If you’re renting a car you’ll pay the same and use the same fuel if you have a couple of kids in the back, and kids stay free at many hotels and even eat free with a paying adults at some restaurants. You’ll need to do some research to find the good deals, but travel costs don’t necessarily increase in direct proportion to the number of travellers.
You take it slower
Younger kids just can’t tolerate long days of car travel and if you can survive two toddlers whining in the backseat for 10+ hours then you deserve a medal! I love road trips, especially in a foreign country, but I know that in the past I’ve probably missed out on things along the way. It’s harder to miss these when you travel with kids as they need to stop, stretch their legs, go to the toilet and let off steam at regular intervals so you can schedule stops at sites along the way to coincide with these breaks.
You’re less likely to push on to the next town when the kids are tired and hungry and will therefore see places you’d never have stopped at under other circumstances. You may cover less ground in any given time travelling with kids, but you’ll see more of what there is to see, just because you’ll be forced to take it a little slower and stop more frequently. The results are often a more interesting and in-depth travel experience.
They’re an icebreaker
In many cultures, kids are welcomed, adored and made a fuss off constantly (to almost annoying levels in some cases!). Locals immediately engage with the younger children in many countries which breaks the ice and often provides additional levels of service or bonus treats of special foods in restaurants, small gifts or even meeting more of the family.
Young children can break through cultural and language barriers with enviable ease. If there are other kids within playing distance, a game will soon ensue, and if language differences make it difficult to communicate about the rules, then… Well, who needs rules? Playing the game is often a goal in itself.
Kids can break the ice with strangers by exclaiming over a pet, asking impertinent questions (which only sound cute coming from someone so small), or asking to join in a game. None of these are as easy to carry off as an adult travelling alone.
You get to see the world through their eyes
Kids see things differently. They have a whole different perspective and it’s not just because they’re smaller, although that can help sometimes too! Kids see the wonder in a new place, new activities, new animals and new food (OK sometimes they don’t like all the food that’s on offer)
Kids tend to comment on sounds, smells, tastes and textures that are strange to them. The things you might take for granted and not even note in your travel journal, which is a shame because that kind of detail makes for great memories of your travels at a later date, not to mention wonderfully descriptive writing if you plan to try your hand at travel writing.
Travelling with kids means you get involved in activities you might have missed out on. Would you have taken that miniature train ride, visited that wildlife centre or talked to that street performer if your kids hadn’t insisted on it. Perhaps not, and often your travel experience is richer for having done these things.
You have the pleasure of seeing your kids grow and learn
Travel is an education. A completely different, more challenging and more pleasurable education than your kids will ever get in a classroom.
You’ll get to see your kids; learning a foreign language, navigating their way through transport hubs, hiking through wilderness areas without impacting the natural environment, reading maps and understanding and appreciating the differences between home.
You’ll see them gaining a knowledge and understanding of other cultures, and witness the sense of connection they feel as world geography and history starts to make sense to them, based on their own experiences and observations.
You become closer as a family
In a world where many families don’t even have time to eat a meal together on a regular basis, imagine being together 24/7 for a few weeks, months or even years travelling, eating, sleeping, learning and exploring together!
Imagine having the opportunity of building these great shared experience and memories to draw on as your kids grow up and away – truly priceless!
Travelling together gives family members one of the few things money can’t buy – the time and opportunity to spend quality time together away from everyday life pressures and grow closer as a family. Isn’t this what we are all striving for?
Finding babysitters when you’re travelling presents unique challenges, whether you’re a parent who just needs a night out or you’re looking to find a babysitter on a regular basis. You need to find a childcare provider for your little one, but you have to do so in an unknown community. When you don’t know what resources are available to you or which businesses and people are worthy of your trust, how do you even begin to search for a quality childcare provider?
A good starting point is to check with your hotel when you make your reservation to see if they offer child minding services or can provide you with a list of recommended babysitters. Always ask about what types of pre-screening the hotel has in place for babysitters to qualify to be on their recommended list. Allow time when you arrive to meet with the candidate/s so you can assess personally their suitability for your childcare requirements – gut feel always plays an important part in these decisions, make sure you trust yours!
Do some on-line research, there are various babysitter sites available covering many destinations around the world that allow you to search their databases, advertise a position and view profiles of potential candidates. If you have a selection of candidates before you depart, conducting interviews via Skype will allow you a good insight into the best match for your family’s requirements. This could be a good way to introduce your child to the sitter so they are familiar with their face and voice so meeting them in person won’t feel like they are strangers.
You can also check out local parent bloggers, family related companies/services/magazines and reach out to them on Twitter or Facebook for a local recommendation
Check your destination’s local phone book for a babysitting agency or child care service before you leave on your trip. If visiting friends or family, use word of mouth and ask if they know someone suitable or can refer you to a reputable agency. If in a more remote location, try contacting the local playgroup, pre-school or primary school and ask if they have any staff that offer babysitting services or can recommend any local sitters.
Five Questions You Should Ask At A Babysitter Interview
To ensure you hire the best possible candidate for your child, it’s helpful to be prepared. Here’s a list of five questions you should ask at a babysitter interview.
- 1. Ask what experience your babysitter has had and whether she has any experience with a child in the same age group as yours.
- 2. Ask for references that include past babysitting jobs that a candidate has had.
- 3. Find out your babysitter’s schedule and availability, making sure it coincides with your needs.
- 4. Find out if your babysitter has had any first aid training and is familiar with what to do in case of an emergency involving your child.
- 5. Ask what type of philosophy your babysitter has in taking care of children and that you are comfortable this will work with your child.
Above all else, whichever way you locate your babysitter, allow plenty of time beforehand in your selection process so you are comfortable with your choice and can actually relax while you are away from your child. Perhaps schedule a short visit before your main outing to allow your child to meet and start building some trust with the sitter. This will also give you an insight into how they interact with each other and a greater level of comfort when you are away for a longer period of time.
The final and most important step – Go out and have a good time!
If you have a child or you yourself suffer with motion sickness, there is always a little trepidation when planning any travel knowing you will have to deal with this.
Here are a few ideas to help manage this on your next journey.
So exactly what is travel sickness and what are the signs your kids are suffering from this sickness?
Motion Sickness is a condition in which there is a disagreement between a person’s visual and perceived movement. E.g. what your body senses is different to what your eyes see. Dizziness, fatigue and nausea are the most common symptoms of motion sickness
Motion sickness in children is common. Whilst not all kids will suffer from motion sickness or travel sickness, it’s best to be prepared. If your children are displaying signs of travel sickness, consider our tips for travelling in the car (or by other means of transport).
The best option is motion sickness prevention for children.
Try some of these tips on your next journey:
* Ensure children are seated in the car high enough to view the road and encourage them to look ahead on the really windy bits. If old enough, perhaps consider seating the sufferer in the front. Reading or looking down at a game screen really is bad news if they are prone to travel sickness.
In a plane, perhaps avoid the window seat. Although the scenery is not quite the same as in car, looking out into the sky can have the same effect.
* Have a supply of refreshing mints that they can suck on. This not only seems to relieve the nausea but also provides a distraction.
* Having small sips of cold water can sometimes also help ease the suffering.
* Keep a small spray bottle of water with a few drops of tea tree oil in the car and a quick, refreshing spritz of this can help revitalize a child not feeling 100%.
* Keep children’s diets as healthy as possible prior to travelling. Lighter, fresh healthy food has less of an impact on sensitive tummies.
* Break regularly, give your kids the opportunity to get out of the car, stretch their legs and visit the toilet. All of this will help them to feel normal again, even if only for a few minutes.
* It’s also import to carry the essential items in case an accident does occur. An empty ice-cream container is the perfect item to keep in the car, or really any container of a reasonable size. You don’t want anything too big, taking up too much room.
If on a plane there is usually paper bags provided. Perhaps pack some large zip lock bags in your hand luggage as these make a sturdy alternative and can be closed securely to dispose and lock in the smells.
* Another thing you can do for motion sickness in children, more for comfort’s sake than anything else is have a little hygiene pack, wipes, sanitary bags etc, things to help clean up little accidents, or help refresh your kids and help them to feel better.
* If you’re travelling by car to a holiday destination you are likely to have clothes with you, however they may be difficult to get to if packed at the bottom of the boot. If you are anticipating that your kids will suffer from travel sickness then pack a day bag that is easy to access and fill it with changes in clothing, face washers, wipes, a hair brush, all those things that will help your kids to feel refreshed when they have previously been feeling ill.
* When planning your travel, if possible consider which route you are going to take. It’s best to stick with main roads that are straight, not windy if there is a choice. Even if it takes you a little longer to get to your destination, it may be worth it to avoid sick kids.
* You can actually purchase medication to assist in dealing with travel sickness. However you will need to investigate this prior to your journey and ensure you have something age appropriate. Most medications are only designed to help prevent travel sickness not fix it once it is already in motion and you need to be wary of possible side effects.
* You can also purchase acupressure wristbands such PSI Motion Sickness Wristbands which are a great Drug Free Option. These are fully adjustable bands that use acupressure to prevent and relieve motion sickness. Just place one on each wrist (fits up to an 8½” wrist) before travel.
* You could also consider copper bracelets to try and prevent it. This is a great alternative for those wanting to avoid medications, or for kids who are a little reluctant to take them.
Hopefully these tips help make your next journey a little easier.
Gone are the days of when we could pack in five minutes ready to set off on a car trip across the state with not a care in the world. Just hearing those words “road trip with kids” is enough to make many parents break out in a cold sweat. To some parents, travelling in a car with the kids would be their worst nightmare! But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The key to success with road trips is all in the planning. The more thought you have put in before you drive out the garage, the less stressful the drive should be. Here are some helpful travel tips on planning for a car trip with children.
1. Prepare Your Vehicle
Have your car serviced a couple of weeks prior and check that your Road Side Assistance membership is current and that you have your card with you(just in case!).
2. Consider traffic conditions for planning departure times
Consider the peak hours of Friday night or long weekend traffic and work your departure time around these. If leaving work early on a weeknight is not possible then consider going after dinner when the kids are bathed and ready for sleep in the car. Before heading off, check for up to date traffic alerts from your local roads authority. These sites are great for highlighting road works, traffic accidents, road closures, time taken on freeways, cameras etc.
Road Report Northern Territory
Main Roads Western Australia
Queensland Dept of Main Roads
3. Plan driving for kids sleep time
If possible, this is a great way of passing more time in the car without you having to hear the dreaded words “are we there yet?” On long journeys, try to break the journey into two-three hour blocks with scheduled meal and play breaks slotted around younger kids sleep times
4. Research Rest Stops
Knowing in advance where playgrounds, parks, interesting sites are along the way allows the journey to be planned around these. Having a break every couple of hours helps children cope with a long drive. Even just 10 minutes running around a park or taking in the view of something interesting can make the time spent in the care more bearable. Fast food restaurants with playgrounds are also a great option to stop at, as they have playgrounds, refreshments and toilets all in one (especially if it’s raining)!
5. Break your journey up by staying overnight?
This is a great way of starting your holiday early and much better than driving for 10+ hours straight! Research places along the way that would make a great overnight stop. Look for: farms or interesting museums, scenic towns, beaches (this is always a great start to any holiday) or wineries with lots of grass for the kids to run around in etc.
6. Packing food and drinks for your car trip
Being prepared with snacks for the car really will keep your sanity intact on any road trip. Keep food and drinks up front with you or at least in reaching distance. There is nothing worse on a car trip than screaming hungry kids when you cannot pull over to grab something from the boot!
Consider packing “special” snack boxes for each child (especially the younger ones) as they love having their own boxes of goodies and will keep them amused for quite some time. Lunch boxes with separate sections are useful, or ziplock bags are useful. Some good snack choices could be: dried fruit, actual fruit, pieces of cheese (stored in a cool bag),crackers/biscuits, mini muffins, muesli/fruit bars, carrot and celery sticks, little treats – sweets, chips or lollypops (great as it takes them ages to suck on them which will ensure you peace and quiet for at least 5 mins!)
Pack plenty of drinks (water preferably for the car, as it makes less mess and keeps sugar levels down!), but perhaps at rest stops have soft drink or juice poppers for a treat or reward for good behaviour in the car.
I hope that thinking about these things in advance, will help ease the stress of going on car trips with your children.