Travelling with children

I really believe I have tried it all as a woman and a mother. Bike, boat, car, train, plane. I have not yet been on a balloon ride but I would say I am a very well and established traveller with one or more children – my own, friends’ and my sister’s. I have laughed, cried, used words I can not repeat here. I have completely planned everything to a tee and I have thrown myself on a last-minute train planed 1 hour before the train departed.

“to move , to breath, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live” Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), Danish author and poet

To travel is to live – and might give you grey hair

Looking back on some of my trips still makes me upset and I can feel the stress from that day deep in my bones, yet I smile when thinking of other trips. I remind myself that I survived and learned valuable lessons about my own strength and children’s ability to adapt to different situations. When Stefanie is telling me how she is planning her trip from Aberdeen to Bath; bus, flying bus again, and timing it all I smile because she is so good despite hating flying. I look at Oliver coming home from a trip to Copenhagen, taking the green bus from Bristol to Bath on his own. In July he will be responsible for his cousin on the way home and I get a tear in my eye because he especially has come very far; from a 3 year old that panicked when the word car trip was mentioned, to being an independent almost adult man. As a teacher I have had 50+ 6 year olds on a trip on buses and trains with 6 adults. That was the best trip ever! I have also had trips with 5 children and 2 adults that was so stressful that I almost called my head and asked him to send a cab!

Planning your trip

One thing is for sure, regardless how much you plan – you can not plan for it all. All you really need is:

  • One really good bag
  • Passport
  • Cash
  • 2 credit cards
  • Emergency numbers written in easy reach
  • After that everything else is going with the flow
1987 mobile phones

This is not my first mobile phone, this is 1996

If you really need to call someone borrow a phone. No one has ever denied me help in a situation where I needed it.  Mobiles are a relatively new invention and we survived fine without them!

Traveling with children requires good coping strategies

Regardless how much you plan you must take the child’s personality into account. It is not only about the trip itself. I postulate that you have 3 types of children when travelling. And they all have trickier points and different coping strategies. It relates back to the blog about different learning styles. The 3 types:

  • The happy child – this is the dream travel child and trust me they are very rare but do exist, but it is still good to have a back up plan A (Phoenix)
  • The Anxious child – this child will be easy to travel with if you involve them in planning the trip and give them jobs to do or responsibilities. Until the age of 4 they can be a bit stressful to travel with, but manageable. Always have a backup plan A and B (Stefanie)
  • The Stressed child – this child really doesn’t respond well to change. Until late in age the child will struggle. When older the child will understand that if you would like to go to granny for Christmas, we need to travel. Planning is essential and have a back up plan A, B, C and D. And whatever happens, just remember the child struggles too (Oliver).

I do know that no child is only 1, 2 or 3. The happy child has a bad day and the stressed child gets to know the routine of travelling after a while and then only new destinations will be a challenge.

Planning when traveling with children

When you plan your trip, it is not only how to get from  A to B or the time that is needed. It is so much more about how the different child reacts when getting from A to B. The more prepared you are and the more back up plans you are able to draw on, the less stressful for everyone. Maybe instead of a week by the sun the whole family together have you considered that the easily stressed child should have a lovely week with the grandparents. Do not see it as punishment but as actually meeting his/her needs.

When you see a family on a train or bus where the children scream, the dad looks like he will take out a gun and shoot you and the mother is as pale as a ghost, they might be on plan D. And they might be there for no fault of their own, but circumstances out of their hands – force of nature.

Travelling with children is the focus at The Tiny Tots in June

I will focus on travelling with children of different ages, transports and situations. There will be funny stories, stressful stories and stories that just are told because I like telling a good story. Please do not only take my words for it.  The mothers from The Tiny Tots mothers group have volunteered  (OK, I bribed them with cake) to tell some of their stories and their reflections on the trips. Stories to come are about:

  • The best camping trip with a baby
  • Why we do not use the car on trips in the future
  • Travelling to France on a honeymoon with a toddler
  • For the trip from A to B – Food/drinks, toys and clothes– what works
  • Changing bags and what to consider
  • Slings, buggies and both
  • Travelling to London with a buggy and with a sling

Please feel free to write your story on Facebook, all the ideas that you as parents/grandparents/siblings have.

To celebrate travelling there is 10% off the Ida Ising Changing Bags in June. For options go to  The Tiny Tots shop .

The Ida Ising Changing Bag is really the best and it just makes so much sense. Like our trip to Bristol Zoo without the hassle of finding the changing rooms.


Jeanette Steinbeck

EYFS Adviser and MA student at Bath Spa University

A famous song written by Hans Christian Andersen

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Jun 04, 2014 | Category: Blog | Comments: 1 | Tags: , , , , , , ,


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