The pandemic has taught us many things: Internet shopping, working from home, applying our minds to use new technologies like Zoom and Teams, homeschooling and, of course, probably the most challenging, finding creative ways to keep children engaged and busy.
And now with the somewhat relaxed Covid-19 rules, we may once again travel across provincial borders to our favourite holiday destinations. We deserve a vacay – the pandemic is a stressful challenge.
Travelling long distances with kids can be equally stressful and demanding, so the question is, apart from stopping every two hours, what can one do to banish boredom and bickering among siblings so that dad can actually focus on getting everyone safely to the destination?
Here are a number of top tips to consider
1. Slow down. Two words that carry much wisdom. If you travel on your own, make a quick stop to pop in at the convenience store. Enjoy a cuppa and something to eat. With kids, it would be quite impossible to stick to the same timeline, and this also applies to sightseeing and visiting places of interest.
2. Handing the kids an iPad loaded to the brim with apps and games may seem like a good idea, but experience has proved otherwise.
3. Be prepared for things to go wrong, because it will. Scheduled and well-planned days and drives can become a nightmare when children’s preferences change.
4. Vigilance over kids when you stop for a break is critical. Small trackers are available that may be fitted to a kid’s belt or clothing items. While on this subject, ensure your kid carries contact details on them in case of an emergency.
5. Ensure that you, when crossing borders, have the required documentation on hand.
6. Small children must be seated in a suitable child seat.
7. Here is a good suggestion someone once made. Give children a camera (cell phone) and encourage them to make a photographic record of the trip. This may well include voice recordings of the chatter in the car and more.
8. Waiting in lines with kids anywhere can become truly tiresome, so buy tickets online when possible.
9. Allow the kids to take turns to decide what group games or other activities will be engaged in.
10. Be flexible in terms of activities, stopovers, games being played and downtime.
11. Be mindful when you pack and also encourage children to carry or move their own luggage. Even the little ones can carry something.
12. Before long trips, routes need to be explained to children and little ones. Encourage them to identify landmarks on route, otherwise their incessant questions may drive you up the wall.
13. Remember to pack a small first aid kit.
14. Ensure that you have packed enough healthy snacks. Stay away from too many sugary eats.
15. With the Covid-19 threat still with us, ensure regular sanitising and handwashing.
Remember, the best memories are made of experiences. Stay in the moment, go with the flow and allow flexibility to dictate the next experience.