Eight tips to surviving journeys with kids from an expert

Holiday time is here! Travelling with kids might seem a bit daunting, but fortunately Deirdre Holland Hannon, Child Behaviour Specialist, is here to give us plenty of expert tips on how to keep them busy and help them (and you) to have lots of fun on the journey.

Published 20/07/23 by Amy Blanchard

Eight tips to surviving journeys with kids from an expert

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/2BPF8U2iCUNLFU81EAzm4q/9080ae31813e2b467f7697815c38821b/1.pngHi, I’m Deirdre! For years I have been supporting families navigate family life and all the transitions and milestones that go with it. Your first holiday with your child will be one of those, so I’m here to share some of my tried and tested tips to make travelling with a young family easier. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or car, all of my tips can be adapted to suit your travels this summer.

Manage your expectations

Often we put pressure on ourselves for how the holiday or family day out ‘should’ go. We sometimes have the Brady Bunch and Von Trapp imagery in our heads of how wonderful and 'instagramable' it will be, but we must remember just because we change the location, we do not change our children’s basic needs. Those basic needs for the age and stage they are at largely impacts the behaviour they express. For example, if they need a nap normally they’ll need a nap travelling.

Clean out the car

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/7k0hX6QE1J6wn1GG7D9yuF/1ba506cdb5a4d782abe222522dcb9166/2.pngSpace is important and mess is stressful especially when you are rooting around the floor for that fallen Tonie, beaker or crisp they can’t possibly live without!

Get prepped

Always charge their Toniebox right up before leaving the house and above all remember to have all new Tonie characters downloaded onto the Toniebox before you leave the wifi. It's always easier when travelling with kids if you don’t have to be searching and hot-spotting in desperation.

Burn off any steam

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/2ypVot1fzf6zobLdSnNtFm/408c0a2237004defe735743c2a47ff33/3.pngStretch those little legs, get those bodies moving and burn off any steam prior to travel. Whether that’s in the garden or the departures lounge, it is always going to benefit those little bodies and minds before we strap them in and confine them to a seat. We often do this as an approach to tiring them out in hopes of sleep, but all children need movement to regulate both the body and mind. We all regulate in different ways but providing movement before restricting movement is never a bad idea in my experience.

Board last!

If you are flying I don’t recommend opting for early boarding or pre-boarding with kids. It’s a lovely offering but I’m not sure the person that came up with it as a ‘perk’ actually has kids! Board the kids last. Sitting for up to 30 minutes extra whilst getting totally overwhelmed and overstimulated by hundreds of strangers boarding, bumping and loading luggage over your head is not ideal and that’s if the flight takes off on time! If there are any delays at least we have our trusty Toniebox to distract and entertain the kids. 

Snacks, snacks and more snacks

Much like babies, we do not want them hungry! It’s difficult for them to regulate in any way when hunger strikes.

Increase interest 

Another good way of increasing interest and engagement is having a new Tonie character or if the travel budget doesn’t allow, simply take out some favourite Tonie characters from your collection for a few weeks before you travel and they will be novel again! I would also suggest having a look at the free downloadable content available on the mytonies app that you can add to your Creative-Tonie. This is a great free add-on and I often forget about it as another great way to refresh my kids listening content. You can also save Toniebox time for the journey, when the options for entertainment are limited. It will naturally increase their interest in the device if they haven’t been using it at home all day or even for a few days... if you could live without your Tonies for that long, probably not!

Car entertainment

Consider a back seat organiser, they are fantastic for those no longer rear-facing. I fill this with toys, books and activities. But not just any kind, they have to be of some value to the child so favourite items you have taken out of being freely accessible prior to the journey or new items. tonies® also have a Car Organiser that lets them listen to their Toniebox and Tonies whilst keeping them safe from any bumpy rides. You can invest in new bits you’ll leave specifically in the car or you can be super prepped and start pulling things from their toy boxes a few weeks before and hide them out of sight and access. Anything they can freely access daily often does not have the same value or create the same level of interest as those items they only see or receive occasionally.

Are wee there yet?

Pack the potty, you'll thank me later! As a Potty, Poo and Bed Wetting Expert, packing a potty for journeys will not only serve as a prompt for them to ask before the pee, but also give you more options roadside or even just a location where there’s a really long queue. Did I mention that continence is my specialist area! If your child is new to the potty, I would highly recommend putting down some protection on their car seat before the journey, so an accident an hour in is not the end of the world. A black bin bag cut to the shape of the seat, a small mattress protector or even a little puppy pad, can all be helpful to save the car seat. 

Timing is everything

//images.ctfassets.net/l6vo76cztcax/7FLpeggNVTQMOh97syCeEx/225576034001212f7dc8ee57f0afa843/Untitled_design__3_.pngAll you can do is plan and prepare as best you can. Naturally, sometimes the most predictable child in a great routine can get other ideas when you least expect it. Work your naps to your journey’s advantage if possible.

I hope you find these helpful and most of all I really hope you enjoy the trip and time with your kids. You put so much time and energy into creating this holiday for your kids, give yourself permission to enjoy. Breathe and remember you are doing your best, and your best is always good enough.

About Amy Blanchard

Amy Blanchard
Amy’s favourite Tonie is Matilda. From a very young age, she was utterly obsessed with Matilda. She watched and read it so many times that she practically had the whole script memorised. As she grew older, she remained just like Matilda, a bookworm, a trickster, and a dreamer!