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
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!
One thing is for sure, regardless how much you plan – you can not plan for it all. All you really need is:
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
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 .
EYFS Adviser and MA student at Bath Spa University
A famous song written by Hans Christian Andersen