How to travel stress-free with the kids

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Master the art of travelling with your children with these seven simple tips.

It’s a terrifying spectacle: a small child melts down in departures as the parents, trussed up in bags with cross-body straps, stare at each other and wonder what on earth ever made them think that a journey with small children would be alright? There’s a particular combination of physical exhaustion and acute embarrassment known only to parents travelling with children.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, because let’s face it there are times when everything goes wrong and you just have to get through it. With a little luck though, travelling with kids can be an enjoyable, even exhilarating, experience.


If it’s going to work, this needs planning. You need to think through every stage of your journey and make sure that you’ll have plenty of time. Rushing is stressful, and your kids will pick up on your stress and behave accordingly. A travel planning app like Tripit will let you access your itinerary offline, store codes and confirmation details and help you with directions.


Kids experience time differently to adults, waiting for an hour for them is like waiting around all day. So make sure that you’ve a plentiful supply of distractions. Snacks are great but don’t go filling them up with sugar because aside from the fact that it’s really bad for them, you’ll regret it when the sugar rush hits them. Good old-fashioned card games like snap may can keep your kids occupied for a while. Colouring books and activity books might also be just enough of a novelty to amuse them but in the end you’ll probably have to resort to the nuclear option: the tablet.

Fly early

Fly as early as possible. You’re less likely to have delays and with luck the kids will sleep through the journey.

Strategic location

If you can swing it, get seats near the bathroom, as the kids will probably need to visit several times during the journey.

Hand luggage essentials

Wipes, hand sanitiser, medication, first aid kit and water are all essential. Dress your children in easily removable layers so that you can keep them comfortable during the journey’s temperature changes.

Make sure you’re fully insured

If your luggage gets lost or some kind of accident happens, you don’t want the additional anxiety of worrying whether you are covered by insurance. Ensure that you’ve got a travel insurance that adequately covers you for all eventualities.

Set off with a positive mindset

If you are anxious and full of dread, the chances are your children will be too. This should be an enjoyable experience for everyone, so try and make it one. Involve your children in the travel planning. You’re going on a plane, train or ferry – how exciting is that? Tell them about what they are going to be seeing and doing so that their excitement will carry them through the boring bits. If it’s a holiday, give them a holiday budget so that they have control over what to buy and don’t endlessly ask for things.