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Travelling with kids? Here are 9 travel hacks that actually work

Travelling with young children can be daunting. Most parents worry about keeping their young ones entertained, comfortable, and quiet while holding onto their individual sanity. That’s probably why parents from across the globe are always on the lookout for useful travel hacks to smooth the process.

Forget about the obvious family tricks and brace yourself for nine of the most out-of-the-box yet wonderful solutions. Although some are rather strange, they really can work.

Bring a pillowcase
Lugging a spare pillow around isn’t practical, especially for those who have toddlers wanting to be carried. But, what happens if you’re unlucky enough to miss your flight or get delayed somewhere for a long period and nap-time is looming? In an emergency, a pillowcase can be used to create a makeshift pillow and clean space to lie down. Simply stuff it full of whatever is handy – jackets, jerseys, nappies, extra clothes – and voila. It offers a comfortable, convenient rest spot and could be the difference between a total meltdown and some blissful shut-eye.

Don’t forget the lollipops
Most children onboard an aircraft experience a certain amount of pain during take-off and landing. The ‘ear-popping’ is a result of a quick change in altitude and can be quite startling for younger kids. The easiest way to reduce the pain and take your children’s minds off of the unpleasant experience is by offering them a lollipop. The sucking and swallowing will alleviate the ear pain, and the sugary treat is sure to keep a smile on their face a little while longer. 

Long-haul flight entertainment
Every parent’s worst nightmare is having to survive a long-haul flight with their children who usually can’t sit still for more than a few seconds. How on earth do you keep them entertained for so long in a cramped space? Sue Garrett, General Manager Marketing and Product at the Flight Centre Travel Group, has a few suggestions.

“I always recommend that parents buy those cheap ‘sticky’ toys, like puffy removable stickers or gel clings, which children can play with on the aircraft window. I’ve seen these things mesmerise kids for hours on end. If you can’t find them ahead of your flight, Post-It notes work just as well. The little ones can have fun scribbling on them beforehand,” she explains.

Pack a shower curtain
Kids are messy. There’s no way around it. From meal times to scribbling and good-old messy play, keep the damage to a minimum, especially if you’ll be staying in a luxurious hotel or with friends or family. The easiest way to manage the mess is with a shower curtain. Use it to catch spills and crumbs, protect floors from paint splashes, crayons and whatever else your kids play with.

The sunburn soother
Sometimes, no matter how liberally and how often we apply sunblock, kids just can’t escape a touch of uncomfortable sunburn. And it usually starts to sting much later in the evening, after a bath, when the pharmacy is closed. But, there is a wonderful sunburn soothing hack to keep in mind while you’re away.

Problem-solving pool noodles
Bed rails are cumbersome, which is why most parents choose to leave them at home when heading off on holiday. If you are concerned that your kids might roll out of bed without one, a pool noodle makes for a convenient substitute. Just place the useful pool toy underneath the bedsheet on any open side of the bed your child will be sleeping on.

Perfect your packing technique
One of the most daunting and time-consuming tasks is packing! “Make a list of everything… weeks in advance and add to it whenever another essential item comes to mind,” insists Ronel Carver from Roodepoort. “That way, you can be sure that you won’t leave anything important behind. Also, be sure to start the packing process a few days before to minimise the chaos,”

Plan each outfit for your kids for hot and cold weather and factor in any activities you plan to do each day. Save time and keep stress levels low during your vacation by keeping each day’s outfits in a separate plastic bag (including all accessories like socks, nappies, bibs etc.). Label the bags so that you know exactly when it should be worn. Then, place the dirty outfit back inside the bag when it has been worn. What an easy way to stay organised!

Travel strategically
Where possible, book your flights with your children’s nap time in mind. Even if they’ll only be asleep for about an hour, that’s one less hour that you’ll need to worry about entertaining them and keeping them calm. Try to plan the rest of your travels the same way. For example, if you need to take a bus ride into town, or when you’ll be travelling by car to a different destination that’s a few hours away.

Sneaky snacking
Keep a packet of raisins or cranberries in your handbag or pocket when out or on the plane. Bring them out whenever you notice your little ones getting niggly or impatient. Hand them out one at a time so you can hold onto their attention for as long as possible.

See? Weird, wonderful and totally fool-proof! Hold tight to these kid-friendly travel hacks and you’re sure to enjoy a more pleasant family holiday – no matter what other challenges may come your way.

Written by Bianca Delport, a freelance writer who wrote this piece on behalf of Big Ambitions.

Photo by Dvir Adler on Unsplash

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