Rachel Pearce offers her top tips for holiday bliss as she prepares to travel abroad with two very little people and a happy-go-lucky husband. What could possibly go wrong?
We’ve just booked our family holiday and the husband has already gone into full holiday mode. Shorts and sunglasses on… let’s go! I, on the other hand, am thinking about the practical aspects of travelling with an intrepid, newly walking one-year-old and a gregarious, potty-training three-year-old.
Occasionally, I let my mind return to last year’s holiday disasters. Shudder. There was the time we ended up in an epic motorway traffic jam on a very hot Friday afternoon. And the time hubs fell down a hole. And the time we forgot to pack the tent. And the time we all had dodgy tummies and ran out of nappies on a long train journey.
Here are just some of the lessons I learned…
- Travel early in the day. This year I’ll be waking everyone up like a thief in the night to avoid all traffic jams. They may be just as cranky, but at least the journey shouldn’t take quite so long.
- Sort out a decent playlist. My two love listening to “Baby Shark” on repeat, but too much of that will have you ripping your ears off. Get everyone to choose ten songs (or pick for them) and take turns to have your selection on. That way you can educate them about 80s power ballads, 90s R&B or Christian classics as you voyage. If your kids are older, load up their tablets with films, games and music so they can entertain themselves. Don’t forget chargers and headphones!
- Pack more low-sugar snacks and drinks. I thought I’d packed a generous array of snacks last time we travelled, but as quickly as I was ripping open packets and inserting straws they were guzzling them down! Remember… the more time they spend eating, the less time they’ll have for moaning. Have a plentiful supply of tissues and wipes on hand at all times.
- Prioritise sleep. Nobody’s at their best when they’re tired, and with long journeys, high temperatures, strange accommodation and unusual timings to contend with, there’s great potential for meltdowns. If blankets, teddies or dummies are needed for car sleeping, pop them in the night before so you don’t forget. Try to travel at usual nap times and, where possible, stick to the usual bedtime routine. It might sound dull, but it could really help with mood control and will give everyone a better chance to relax.
- Be kind to yourself. My top tip would be to book a day off/plan a quiet day post-hol so you can get everyone back into their routines and tackle the unpacking without having to face some of the struggles of ‘real life’ right away.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself! While holidays with little ones can be stressful and tiring, try to live in the moment. Forget about work and jobs that need doing at home. Explore the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Savour the sandy ice creams. Soak up the culture. Laugh at every opportunity. Let your clothes get mucky. Visit a local church, even if the service is in a different language. Thank God for holidays and each other. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And take lots of photos!