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Family travel checklist: what to pack
What you need when you're travelling with children depends on how old your children are and where you're going. It helps to be prepared.
For older children, it can be good to pack:
- plastic bags - handy for rubbish or vomit
- spare clothes, in case of spills, accidents or delays
- hand sanitiser
- water in refillable drink bottles
- healthy snacks
- books, toys and games - ask your child to help you choose
- medication if your child needs it
- a first aid kit.
For babies and younger children, it can be good to pack everything on the list above and add:
- nappies or pull-ups
- spare cothes if your child is toilet training
- a portable changing mat
- your child's favourite cuddly toy, if he has one
- blankets or wraps
- a pram or car seat, if they're not available where you're going.
If you're travelling with children with additional needs, you might need to give extra thought to things like packing your child's medications and equipment, preparing your child for travel, planning your time and so on.
Entertainment tips for family travel
Long trips can be challenging for children. Family travel is more fun for children and easier for you if your children are entertained. Here are some ideas.
Babies and toddlers
- Take sturdy books that you can wipe clean.
- Keep toys in a bag and give them to your child as you travel, rather than all at once.
- Borrow some 'talking books' from your local library before you leave home, or download audio files.
- Listen to music that you and your child can both enjoy. Try Kinderling Kids Radio for family-friendly songs or check out our Baby Karaoke.
We did a six-hour car trip with our toddler and preschooler. We had all their favourite movies, heaps of books to read and snacks.
- Melissa, mother of a two-year-old and a four-year-old
- Play 'I spy' or guessing games - for example, 'I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 10'.
- If you have a screen or tablet device in the car, make sure it's fully charged and you have plenty of movies loaded onto it.
- Take some music that your child enjoys, or make a family playlist with your children before you go.
- Take some games - for example, checkers with magnetic pieces or card games.
- Sticker books or blank books and coloured pencils for writing and drawing can keep imaginations and hands busy.
- If you've got more than one child, packing toys and books for each child can help to keep everyone happy.
Our kids love playing 'spotto', even on short car trips: 10 points for every yellow car they spot, 20 points for orange, and 30 points for gold. Spotting the cars and keeping track of the score keeps them occupied.
- Catherine, mother of a five-year-old and an eight-year-old