Much as we all adore the little darlings, children can be ever so slightly annoying when it comes to travel. Face it, it’s not much fun being stuck on a long-haul flight while some six year old kicks the back of your seat and deposits their gum in your hair. Still it can’t be easy being stuck in traffic on the M6 somewhere near Birmingham or restrained in a car seat while your parents argue with the SatNav or suffering mysterious ear pains when you’re coming into land.
Since sedatives are not an option – unless you take them yourself – we thought we’d explore the best ways of keeping children entertained until your reach your destination.
Kindles and tablets can be preloaded with plenty of entertainment and headphones are a blessing. Take some colouring books and pencils, or try My Book of Stories: Write your own Adventures which takes adventures like Peter Pan and Treasure Island and combines them with creative activities to let your kids create their own tales. £9.99 for bookshops or online.
Games and puzzles will keep them absorbed and entertained. These are all great when you’re on the move, to play as a family in the evenings or when it’s too hot to take the kids outside.
Dobble is a brilliant little card matching game that comes in a tin and takes just 15 minutes to play. It can be played on a seat back tray or a train table with ease; even the back seat of the car will do. It’s fast and great for kids of six and up, but there are also versions for younger kids. Two to eight players. Around £12 from local toyshops or online.
Timeline is more of a challenge for kids of eight or over. This time the cards each show an event and they have to be put in the right order to make the correct timeline. There are various options from General Interest to Inventions, History, Film and even a Star Wars edition. It may be educational, but it feels like fun – until the kids beat you, at least. Price depends on the set chosen, but expect to pay around £12.
Lastly, Smart Eggs are pocket sized puzzles that are utterly absorbing. All you have to do is get a wand all the way through the egg’s maze, using the tracks and holes provided. Sounds simple but it reduced our testers to silence for about ten minutes. £5.99 each and suitable for kids of six and up.
Top tips for travelling with kids…
> Travelling always seems to take twice as long with kids. Allow extra time for your journey and slow the pace when you’re away – you might be able to fit six museums into one day, but rushing around will just make the kids fractious and give you a headache.
> If you need a visa for your destination, the chances are that your child needs one too. Be sure to check several months in advance. Similarly, if you’re separated, you might need your ex’s written consent to take your child abroad. It’s worth checking out before you book.
> Children are too young to have mastered the art of travelling light. Consider sending your luggage on ahead via a specialist baggage courier, then it’ll be waiting for you. Alternatively, see if the airline will let you deposit your bags a day early, for an easier transit.
> Research a selection of things to do in case the weather is bad, or the kids are bored and take it with you. It’s best to have some activities that will suit your kid’s attention span and interests.