21 Jul Travel Tips for Days Out with Young Children
How to make sure everyone enjoys a day out
Once children come along the idea of spontaneity can go out the window. But with a little pre-planning, you can still enjoy trips out… to the shops, the beach or the museum; even if there’s a bus or train trip to get there.
But wait, we sense you hesitate a moment. If your little one is still toilet training, then the idea of any kind of journey might be a game-changer.
Not if you follow our top travel tips, they’ll help open up a world of opportunity.
Tip 1: Plan of a-pack
Okay that’s a terrible pun, but making sure you have everything you need will take away most of the stress; whatever happens, you know you’re prepared. Remember the bag packed ready for the dash to the hospital when you were expecting? Just knowing it was there helped to relax you didn’t it?
Most trips need the same basics, so you can keep a bag packed ready for any opportunity: include a day’s worth of fresh nappies or pull-ups; skin cream; baby wipes; a change of clothes (something that covers you if the weather changes or you need a back-up set because something gets spilt, leaked or knocked over. We’ve all been there!
Pack with light layers of clothing that can be added or removed to suit the weather, and which can be rolled up to cushion the bag. And for toddlers include a bib and a beaker with a non-spill lid. (Pull-ups are great for longer journeys even when you think you’re just through the potty-training phase, helping you both relax for the journey). And you’ll need a bag to carry any dirty nappies until you can dispose of them appropriately. That’s when finding a toilet with suitable facilities will make life easier.
- Then there’s the weather to allow for: have a waterproof as well as a hat and sunblock, this is the UK after all. And if you are braving the beach then take suitable shoes for them to get wet while paddling – and a bag to hold the wet items on your return home. Our beaches have many sharp objects, from broken shells to – sadly – broken bottles, and you don’t want the day to end in A&E.
- You’ll also want the iPad (and its charger), and favourite storybook, a carton of juice for the journey; their favourite small, light, soft toy. You don’t want the sharp corner of their big fire engine, it will only dig into your back all the way around the museum, trust me! And this needs to be an enjoyable – and relaxing – day out for all of you.
- Toddler snacks can be added fresh from the cupboard: such as small tubs of carrot sticks or raisins. But do pack toddler-friendly plastic cutlery, as not all restaurants will have this available.
Tip 2: Know your route
- Plan ahead for suitable toilets, maybe see if they are child-friendly with adequate changing places and child-friendly equipment
- Plan your route before you go. Apps can now give you train times in an instant, plus connections to local buses, tide tables, opening hours. This doesn’t remove any spontaneity, it just makes the best use of the day once you decide to go.
- If the sun is shining, check the weather app: is it the same at the coast? Is there a cold wind from the North that will freeze your ice cream better than the corner shop’s freezer?
- Will there be an entry fee? Investigate queue-busting options such as booking in advance or purchasing timed tickets for top attractions.
- Check online for local discount vouchers.
- Print out a map of the venue, if there is one, then you can plan the day’s activities on the journey and help build up the excitement.
- If there’s time, make your own packed lunch. Then you don’t need to worry if the café doesn’t have any of their favourite foods, or the queue is too long once they get hungry, or the prices are too high for you to relax.
- Don’t plan to do too much. As we all instinctively understand, it’s better to go to just one thing, take your time to explore it, and relax on the journey there, rather than try to cram in too much and be rushing around with a tired and frustrated child.
Tip 3: An overnight stay
- Logistically, we’ve just gone to a whole new level. You’ll now need a travel cot, potentially. You’ll also need pyjamas, and more nappies, in fact, more of everything. Their favourite toy will be good to help settle them into a strange room.
- Think location, location, location: remember, you might not think camping is such an ideal adventure when they are cold at 2am or scared by a noise outside the tent. It can be just as big an adventure making a ‘tent’ out of the bedsheet in you hotel room – and a whole lot more comfortable for you once they’ve finally fallen asleep.
Tip 4: Essential items regardless
- Any medicines you need to have with you at all times
- Mobile phone and charging cable
- Antibacterial gel and toilet wipes. Some public loos are quite unsanitary
- Essential first aid items such as plasters and Calpol sachets.
- Up-to-date photograph of your tots.
- If you’re potty training, consider packing a pop-up travel potty.
- Antihistamine, if you know they’re allergic to pollen
- Paper and pens to draw – get them to draw their favourite memory from the day. You’ll feel it was all worthwhile when you see their reaction.
- A disposable camera for them to use can be a good alternative, it encourages them to observe everything, gives them a record of the day, and you might be surprised at some of what they photograph
- Spare change for local parking at meters
- A child locator for peace of mind
Toddlers like their freedom, just like the rest of us, so traditional reins aren’t likely to keep them calm. Technology has now come to the rescue and you can use a child locator instead – a small unit attaches to their belt or shoe and you keep the transmitter. If you cant see them, just set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.
Or if that’s beyond the budget, write your mobile number on a note and pop it in their pocket, or simply scribble it on the back of their hand.
One to avoid
Sugary sweets or fizzy drinks: a sugar rush will not help any of you on a day trip. Keep the treats to fruit, breadsticks, carrot sticks or their personal favourite equivalent. Now keep calm, and carry on as the poster says!