Tom and I are lucky enough to have done a little bit of travelling in the last 4.5 years. With family spread out through Australia and New Zealand, it was inevitable that we would head off on adventures together. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than creating memories with him and pushing him a little bit outside his comfort zone!
He is a pretty relaxed kid when it comes to travelling so I thought I would share some of my tips for travelling with a child. We've been on planes, trains, ferries and buses and our longest trip was 12 hours door to door!
Packing efficiently is something I have mastered the art of! As a single parent there isn't anyone else to help carry the bags and when we head off on our adventures we often have changeovers and pit stops along the way. And the last thing I want to have happen is for me to be laden down with heavy bags while trying to control a sometimes energetic 4 year old. So I never pack more than 4 outfits!
I include a selection of long and short sleeve tees so we can layer and always a cardigan, jumper and jacket. Even if we are going away for longer, you can usually wash clothes when needed and if I don't limit myself to 4 outfits each we end up taking everything we own including the kitchen sink!
One thing I always pack when we go anywhere, even if its to stay with family, is a pillowcase for Tom. I let him pick which one we take. I have done this since he was little and it helps so much having something in the bed that is familiar and his. Makes bed time so much easier!
We also always take a DVD or two, his fave/best PJ's (the ones I don't mind him being seen in public in if necessary), our Pineapple Heads bubble bath (again for that bed time consistency), some Skully's Lavender Sleep Aid and more recently the Frankie Apothecary Kawakawa Balm. I love this balm. Often, planes/buses have air con going the whole time which dries your skin out. This stuff is magic! I use it on my face and hands to help with my dry skin and irritations and it has made such a difference. Tom gets a bit of eczema and this helps relieve the itching for him like nothing else!
For the actual journey itself Tom carries his own backpack. He normally has a few of his favourite Siku toys in it and more recently we have started taking a little note book and some colouring pencils. I think 4 years of him seeing me write in my diary has rubbed off on him and he likes to do the same thing! I usually have the toys in a zip lock bag so they are easy to find in the backpack and easy to get him to count to make sure they are all there before they get put away.
The iPad is always charged up and loaded up with games for him. We love ones that require him to solve something so puzzles are the go to at the moment! Chugginton has been and will no doubt continue to be his favourite. These headphones are specifically for kids. They limit the volume so even if the iPad volume gets cranked, he wont damage his hearing.
Imaginative play is encouraged in our house so his camera comes with us for him to take photos of his best bits of the trip, and some books always come in handy. I make sure that he can carry the backpack himself so am sure to not let him overload it with toys.
Snacks on the journey are an absolute must! Airport food is so expensive and he usually doesn't like it anyway. Tom has always been a snacker so I make sure we are armed with lots of choices.
I use the Kai Carriers filled with pretzels, popcorn or crackers. They're a good way to portion control snacks and easily refillable. Even though he is 4 he still thinks custard is a treat so we usually have a few pouches in my bag, along with a couple of boxes of raisins and some bliss balls. The Banana Frooze Balls are mine and Toms faves! They taste like perky nanas. Mandarins are the perfect travelling fruit, especially at this time of the year when they are in season!
I am a little bit OCD when it comes to public toilets. When you are travelling long distances you have no choice but to use them, so I always carry a box of tissues and some baby wipes. I can't tell you how many times they have saved us from an unfortunate situation! As is their want, kids seem to always want to go to the toilet when you are in a new environment. This is fine on the train or the plane but buses don't seem to have them anymore so I can't stress enough how important it is to remember to take them before you get on the bus. There are few things more embarrassing than having a full bus of people watch your 4 year old pee on the side of the motorway!
Speaking of buses, it isn't a requirement for Children to be in a child restraint on a bus. Which sort of astounds me. But any bus trip we have been on I have taken his car seat. Our one is able to be secured with a seat belt so I can strap him in like normal and when he falls asleep, which he always does, I feel happy knowing he is secure and also comfortable and well supported.
Probably the number one thing that has kept me sane on all our adventures is to just remember to relax. I don't look at it as a 'holiday' for me. Rather an adventure for us to create memories. He picks up on my anxieties and if I am stressed, so is he. Travel should be about giving kids new experiences and exposing them to new things. I had to learn to let it go if he didn't want to have a nap, or fell asleep at 5pm after a big day. It makes the whole adventure more fun if you just go with the flow and not worry too much about ruining routines. We have never had any issues settling back into ours when we've returned home.
Tom and I are off to Christchurch on Thursday on the bus and staying 3 nights in a hotel in the city. We are going to Disney on Ice and the Antarctic Center and also meeting some new friends we've made through Instagram. I can't wait and get as excited as he does about heading off on an adventure!
Thanks for reading & Happy Days