The three laws of travelling with children

  • First, plan for every eventuality.
  • Second, be prepared for a new unseen eventuality to arise.
  • Third, just blag it where possible and expect your mental capacity to suffer from buffer underrun.

Travelling with children is easy. There I said it, all you have to do to get your stuff, yourself and your children from one place to another is to make sure that you have prayed to the right gods and that they are smiling on you. Homer, of Odyssey fame, didn’t even take his kids with him so let’s get this out of the way early on, taking your kids on holiday is a pain.

There are, however, a small number of things you can do to reduce the misery from a simple brain melting stress filled disaster to a mere brain melting stress filled category 3 disaster.

At the most elementary level you can break everything down in to ten minute chunks. If your journey is one hour long you need 10 ‘things’ to do for example. This however, does not talke into account Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle where for each additional hour the attention span of a child halves. Handily there is an equation to help you get to grips with this: IF(A=1)THEN(B=1)UNLESS(A=2)THEN(B=.5)/DOOM

So, for every hour of your journey you need to plan for infinite number of tasks. Also, for those of you reading the Cliff Notes version, no this does not mean the timed portion of your flights, trains, taxis or coaches and busses, it means from door to door time. Basically, you’re doomed. Deal with it.

I’m going to make a broad assumption that you are flying with your children, though this information is equally relevant to those on long car journeys and on trains or, at a push, coaches. For long bus journeys see my other post titled: ‘You’ve only got yourself to blame and next time it may be easier to just burn all your possessions in a ritual pyre then throw yourself on top’.

Be prepared, the Scouts aren’t top of the military pecking order for nothing and mainly it is because of their universal motto. Yes the SAS may have Who Dares Wins, but they’ve never caught an EasyJet from Liverpool John Lennon at 6am on a Wednesday much less a Ryanair from, god forbid, Doncaster Robin Hood to Reus at 3am on a Saturday. Who dares in those particular situations doesn’t win as much as has their body found folded in a suitcase somewhere outside of Speake on a wet Tuesday. “Suicide?” The investigating officer will ask the coroner “but, how?” “We’ve never seen anything like it, but he definitely put himself in the suitcase voluntarily” the coroner with confirm.

Anyway, have everything on hand. Tablets, cuddly toys of non-descript vintage, cuddly toys of the “OMG this one is my favourite” variety. Board games that fold up into impossibly small boxes. Drawing pads, books, pencils, crayons, felt tips, chocolate, non-chocolate treats, lactose intolerant foodstuffs (even if they aren’t lactose intolerant, best to be prepared remember?) Bread, milk, cheese, crisps, Heinz tomato ketchup, Fruit Shoot, water, Travella. The list goes on, so basically pack everything in your house. Remember however, that you cannot go over the 20kg weight limit for your checked baggage, assuming that you paid for some hold luggage. If you’re going to attempt travel with children taking cabin bags alone then you only have yourself to blame.

Assuming you have planned for every single thing that could happen then you’re golden. You’ll breeze through bag drop, speed through the security theatre and dash through duty free.

The alternative, of course, is to break the day up into decent sized chunks, take some diversion activities, keep something in reserve (playing spot the ‘thing’ should be your last line of defence when reinforcements are in sight) and just make the best of it trying not to let it all get on top of you. However, that approach is for the well adjusted normals of this world.