Sometimes, as a parent, it's hard to believe that your little darling has a purpose on this earth other than to torture you. Any mum you ask is bound to have her fair share of horror stories (though some may have repressed these memories). An alarming number of these horror stories will generally be about travelling with kids.
With the holidays around the corner, and with a strain of wanderlust that's more catching than h1n1 going around; We're going to share some travel hacks that will hopefully save a few of you from PTTD (post traumatic travel disorder).
The biggest travel related dilemma is, how much do I need to pack, versus, how much space do I have? Here is a small list of "must haves".
1) Diapers : the general rule, of how many diapers to pack, is +-5 per Day, and then 5 extra.
2) Snacks: a variety of little snacks can keep your little sweetie occupied for ages. I like to pack an assortment of healthy finger food and junk food. Though please do remember, what goes in, does have to come out. If travelling with toilet trained children, you need to be prepared to visit some grimy and dodgy toilets.
3) Toilet kit: most public toilets are far from istinjah friendly, so it's always a good idea to carry a few emergency supplies. Roll up water bottles are a life saver, and they take up very little space. Other essentials include, disposable toilet covers, sanitising spray, anti-septic wipes, and hand cream. If Road Tripping, it also helps to plan out your toilet stops in advance.
4) Spare clothes: as much as we may plan, and as hard as we may try to avoid them, accidents do still happen. Drinks get spilt, children get nauseous, even the occasional air-hostess has been known to drop a tray of curry on a passenger. One of my most horrible travel tales involves spending 7 and a half hours, out of an 8 hour flight in vomit soaked clothes while carrying a sleeping infant.
5) Medication : unfortunately, while travelling children do occasionally get ill. Whether it's just the sniffles or a full blown bug, it's convenient to have tried and tested medication that you know agrees with your little one. I always carry something for pain and fever, suppositories, allergy medication, a nasal spray, an unmixed antibiotic, anti-nausea medication, and anti-diahorea medication (smecta is one of the few approved for little kids)
6) Entertainment: if you allocate at least two activities per hour of travel, you should be able to avoid having a ratty bored little traveller. My favourite things to pack are
1) A tablet pc, loaded with new and exciting games. It doesn't matter what skill you'd like your kid to aquire, there's an app that can help with that.
2) Books: I like to pack one new exciting book as well as one or two old favourites.
3) Colouring in activity packs are always a winner with kids and can often keep them occupied for quite a while. When these ready made activities do start to get boring, it's fun to play variations of classic games such as i-spy. For my preschooler who can't read or spell yet, she draws the object she's "spied" and tries to have us guess it.
4) Toys: it's lovely to have a new little toy and an old favourite as well. To make it a little more exciting, you can wrap these little toys up like presents. Another must have to occupy a child in a small space is a tiny tube of bubbles, the kind that are sometimes given as party favours.
5) audiobooks: if travelling in a car, lots of children's books are now available in audio format. It's a fun and engaging way to pass time together.
6) road trip essentials : for older kids whose car seats don't recline, a neck pillow can go a long way to make them comfortable. Other essentials include blankets, wipes, and a packet for dirt. Any mum will tell you that children seem to have special magnetic dirt attracting properties, and they also can't hold empty wrappers for more than 1.5 seconds.
7) Flight tips : a good nasal spray can really help relieve ear pressure during take off and landing. Other things that can alleviate sore ears, are sucking on a pacifier, or chewing some bubble gum.
8) bucket loads of patience : the rule of thumb is, if you're able to laugh about it now, you should be able to look back on it fondly later. Holidays are only to make memories after all.
Ayesha Parak-Makada currently owns a toddler playgroup in the Musgrave area.
Her book “Sticky fingers, a sensory play recipe book” is on sale at the Al Ansaar book shop.