The Christmas holidays may be over, but is anyone else already flicking through hundreds of daily flight and hotel deals trying to schedule your next big trip? Everyone knows the quickest way to get through post-holiday blues is to… plan another holiday! If you’re like me and have little ones in tow, however, travelling can quickly go from care-free relaxation to I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out stress in seconds.
On a recent beach break, our plans for lazy days splashing in the water were hampered when it rained for three days solid. Lesson learned; when it comes to entertaining young kids on vacation, you need to be prepared.
Here are 10 quick tips for taming restless toddlers and creating your own mini kids club on holiday:
1. You can’t beat a good old bucket, spade and watering can. Either pack your own or buy a set at your destination. Even if it’s raining outside, you can still fill up the hotel bath and stick your toddler in there with all their beach toys.
2. Stickers of all shapes and sizes. Wan Chai market offers a good selection and bigger stickers are better for tiny hands. Try creating a mini treasure hunt by placing the stickers all around your villa/hotel room. Big window stickers are also fun, especially on the plane.
3. Aqua doodle and aqua mat. These are perfectly suited for younger kids who haven’t quite mastered the art of colouring in. Aqua doodle sets are handy for plane/car journeys whilst an aqua mat is useful to play with by the pool.
4. Colouring books and crayons. I always bring colouring sets to restaurants to keep the kids quiet at dinner. Try to buy the triangular crayons as they won’t fall off the table. In countries like the US it’s commonplace to be given a colouring set when you are seated and it’s worth stashing them away for your own personal supply!
5. Balls. It’s amazing the games you can invent with a ball. My particular favourite is to lay on a sun lounger reading a book and play ‘fetch’ with my 3 year old (seriously, she loves it).
6. Stacking cups are incredibly versatile. Whether it’s stacking a tower, pouring water from cup to cup or housing various objects like seashells inside, kids love them. They are also easy to pack or you can create your own by thieving plastic cups from the plane.
7. Whilst you’re packing your own beach reads (wishful thinking?), don’t forget to pack your kid’s favourite books! I’ve always found hardback books with flaps to be the best bet for young kids. I also like to buy a children’s book written about our destination. You can often find these at the airport and they make for a super souvenir.
8. Snacks! Wherever I’m headed in the world, I always pack some snacks in my suitcase from cereal bars to dried fruit. It’s amazing how long a box of raisins can keep a toddler quiet for. Another handy tip is to take some bread rolls from the breakfast buffet to dole out as a snack later in the day.
9. I can’t list my top tips and not mention the grande dame of them all, the iPad. Whilst I always try to steer my kids in the direction of other activities, the iPad is a life saver. Whether it’s an app (the Peppa Pig ones are brilliant) or watching a show (The Wiggles is a winner), the iPad is now invaluable on a long-haul flight and winding down in the hotel room. Just make sure you charge it up before your flight, always pack your charger in hand luggage and buy a decent case for it. It might also be worth investing in some toddler-friendly headphones – Kidz Gear make ones with volume control or pocket the children’s headphones from your Cathay flight.
10. My parting words of wisdom- if you are truly after relaxation then you need to bring an extra pair of hands. Whether that’s in the form of a grandparent, helper or finding a hotel with a kids club, we all deserve a break. Check in advance the minimum age of the kids club and/or babysitting service at your destination.