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Since the holidays are approaching I thought this would be a good time to look at how to keep children happy, occupied and comfortable on your holiday.
I have been travelling with my son since he was a baby and time and experience have taught me that there are some things you don't leave behind.
It does not matter whether you go away for a night or a long holiday, some children simply cannot deal with being away from home, while others need constant entertainment - and this is tiring for parents.
Though going on holiday is exciting, the problem is you are moving out of your comfort zone. Hopefully the hints that follow will help. I have always found special backpacks useful.
They would include:
lSnacks - these should not be squishy, messy foods such as yoghurt nor should they be too salty because that makes children thirsty, and then they need to go to the loo more often.
lDrinks - preferably in a sports bottle with a spout to minimise spills. The best liquid refreshment is water.
lToys - logic tells me that providing children with noisy beeping toys will not make you popular with the other passengers if you are travelling by bus, plane or train.
These noises irritate car drivers too - especially dads for some reason. It is always a good idea to take your child's favourite small toy. My son's stuffed tiger is a must. It's a comfort item as well as a great makeshift pillow;
l Games - must not be the kind with lots of small pieces that can get lost. Take along games that will not start fights between siblings. See tips for travel-game ideas.
lPresents - this is always a winner. I always slip in a couple of wrapped (small) new toys, books or other presents for my son.
He becomes very excited when he finds the new item. It also makes the trip special and memorable as opposed to his whining about how much longer we'll be travelling and asking the famous - "are we there yet?".
lWet wipes and a small dry cloth - don't go anywhere without them because they are invaluable for cleaning up spills or just cleaning hands before and after eating.
lEntertainment - older children enjoy listening to stories and music, which can either be on a CD Walkman or iPod.
Even younger children enjoy listening to music and stories, but it is essential to monitor the volume on the headphones. If you can hear the music it's too loud and that should be non-negotiable.
Things to do in the car - some of these handy hints obviously apply to many different methods of transport and are not limited to just travelling time either.
lPlay "I spy" - younger children can look for different colours and other things that are easy to identify.
lTell stories and take it in turns to add to the story and the next person must carry on from where the previous person left off.
lPlay word association games - one person says a word and the next has to say the first word they can think of that relates to the word they were given.
If there is general consensus that there is no link between the words, then the person who gave the word is out. Alternatively, if a person takes too long to respond, the person is out too.
lGo through the alphabet naming pre-determined objects that begin with a particular letter. For example, everyone must name a boy's name beginning with A, then B, and so on.
Each name must be different. Use names, places, foods, clothes, animals, countries, cities and so on.
lGive the younger ones finger puppets to make up their own stories - these could even be the wrapped-up new items in the special bags.
lGive each child a long list of things they need to look out for on the drive and the first child to see them all, wins.
lProvide a bag of multicoloured pipe cleaners to play with and see what the children can create.
lSing songs together.
I love travelling with my son because I love the look of wonder on his face when he learns something new or experiences the unusual.
Happy holidays and safe travelling.
l From Kidzworld; the writer, Melanie Hartgill, is an educational psychologist .