For me, travelling is as much about enjoying the journey as it is about the destination. It was a lesson I learned as a child through endless hours sat on dusty airport floors or bus shelters waiting for the next part of our journey, as we navigated our way around Indonesia. It taught me not to bother being impatient; it didn’t make that plane any less delayed, but only led to negative emotions and frustration. It taught me instead to embrace the times in between, to slow down and enjoy the moment. Sometimes I watched the world and people passing by. Othertimes I learned to zone out the noise, and concentrate on writing, drawing, reading or playing; a skill that has since proved to be very useful in my adult life. Day to day, I can be quite a stressy, Type A personality, but not so when I’m travelling. As soon as I start a long journey, the stress seems to lift and I set about enjoying each moment as it comes, even if that means sitting on a floor surrounded by bags, people and noise, but completely engrossed in playing a game with my children.
It’s a skill I desperately want to pass on to them. The ability to detach from the stress and be present in the moment when you’re travelling, enjoying just being together regardless of what’s going on around you. Now if only I could apply this skill to my day to day life, I’d be laughing!!
We’ve been travelling with Beans7&8 since they were babies, and I’ve always tried to make the journey as fun as possible, despite any difficulties or delays. It must be working to some extent, because they love travelling, and are not remotely phased by long hours spent in getting to a destination.
One of my biggest tips is involving them in the process of packing their own travel bag, building the anticipation for the journey, rather than for the holiday itself. Our next trip involves a 14 hour plane ride to Singapore for me and the children, where we’ll meet Daddy and piggy back on his work trip there, before flying to Thailand for a holiday together. In preparation for this trip, I sat down with each child to work out what they’d like to include in their travel bag. They’re super excited about their bags and can’t wait to get started with them. Here’s what they decided upon; hopefully it will provide some inspiration for any future trips you may take.
1. Family games to play in the airport
Happy Families is an old classic, a tried and tested game they find easy and one they’ll be drawn to if they’re feeling tired. Kloo Spanish is a fun game we invested in to practise our Spanish. Players are dealt a hand of Spanish nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs and have to use them to build sentences to score points, learning new words as they go. And finally History Heroes Explorers is a new game for us, but given that it involves learning facts about history’s forty greatest explorers, I think it’s going to be a big hit, particularly with Bean7.
2. Current reading books
Bean7 is obsessed with all things Harry Potter at the moment, and has just started Book 6, the Half Blood Prince. At 606 pages, this should keep him going for a while, although not so much fun to cart around an airport, which undoubtedly means it will be put in my bag! Bean8 is extremely excited to start her new recommendation, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. Set in a Victorian school for young ladies, the headmistress is mysteriously poisoned at Sunday lunch. But rather than having to return to their families and leave the sisterhood they have formed, the seven young girls in her care, decide to hide her death and take charge of their own lifestyle and education. Together they teach their own lessons and go in search of the murderer before he or she strikes again!
They’ve also packed two each of these Quest Adventures; books they’ve read many times before but never grow tired of. You create your own history, maths and science adventures, as you solve clues and answer questions, jumping to and fro throughout the book as the plot unfolds.
Bean8 loves to write: stories, poems or about her travel experiences, so she always includes a new journal. She’s particularly enjoying the writing prompts in this lovely three-year journal. Bean7 is less of a writing lover, but is always keen to choose a new journal to fill with lists of new birds and other animals he sees wherever he travels!
4. Individual or two-player games
We’re ever so slightly obsessed with Top Trumps in this family. Having been slightly blown away by Bean7’s memorisation of all 30 elements included in Top Trumps Elements, and their numerical properties, just so he could win each time, I’m convinced of its educational value too! Yet again, discovering through play proves to be the most effective way of learning for our children. He was excited to receive this Top Trumps London set after our recent Tower Bridge experience.
Bean8 has a current fascination with Shakespeare at the moment, so she was thrilled when I brought Top Trumps Shakespeare’s Plays home, and is loving learning the quotations from the different plays. She’s also expressed an interest in learning to do the Rubik’s Cube, a perfect activity for the plane! Finally, Rush Hour is one of our favourite one-player games, and the little cars double up as toys for when we get to our destination.
5. Activity Books
Here’s Bean7’s selection, including:
- Mad Libs – Pre written stories with blanks for the nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs, for you to fill in with the silliest option you can find, to make a wacky story! A fun activity that hones their grammar skills without them realising!
- Usborne’s Around The World Mazes – Bean7’s choice of new book for this holiday, and it even has a maze through a Thai Floating Market, so perfect for our trip!
- Cricket Sticker Book – For my cricket fanatic!
- Maths Puzzle Pad – Fun ways to practise maths skills, such as craking the code on a safe or translating a hieroglyphic sequence.
- Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas and Curious Conundrums – Love, love, love this ingenious book associated with the Mysterious Benedict Society collection. An assortment of clever puzzles, riddles and brainteasers that will have them hooked for hours!
- Wildlife Colouring Pad – a mini colouring book that we take with us every holiday.
- A clipboard for leaning on, blank coloured card and colouring pencils.
Bean8’s selection includes the following:
- The Everything Kids’ Puzzle Book – Bean8’s favourite activity book, it’s an excellent selection of puzzles to decode, mazes, word games & searches and quizzes.
- Extreme Dot To Dot Animals 2 – These dot to dots have up to a 1,000 points each, requiring a serious level of concentration to reveal the hidden animals.
- Usborne Pirate Maze Book
- Optical Illusions Activity Book – Find out how illusions work and create your own by adding stickers and drawing patterns and shapes.
- Maths Puzzles – A fun assortment of brain-teasing puzzles designed to test your maths capabilities.
- Spillelok Game Pad – We bought this handy little book from Tiger; it’s an assortment of Dots & Boxes, Hangman and Tic Tac Toe, the perfect acccompaniment to a long journey.
- Coral Reef Colouring Book – Not in the picture above, but a great fit for our travels, as we’re planning to spend a few days snorkelling nearby coral reefs off Koh Lanta in Thailand.
- A clipboard for leaning on, blank coloured card and colouring pencils.
6. Teddies & Toys
Lastly, they love to take a small teddy and their Schleich animals with them on their travel adventures, and often involve them in their games and activity books. Such well travelled animals!
In addition to their own selections, I always take:
- lollies/sweets for take off and landing to prevent ear pain,
- a change of clothes and/or pjs if we’re travelling overnight, for all of us (I’ve been caught short before without a change of clothes for me after a child threw up all over me…not my most pleasant flying experience!),
- toothbrushes and a mini toothpaste,
- a packet of wet wipes,
- a ton of snacks,
- water bottles to be filled up from the water fountains at major airports once you’re through bag check/bottled water if these are not available,
- small hand gel, as planes are literally a breeding ground for germs,
- a few plasters, arnica and small sachets of calpol in case of emergencies.
And that’s it! It may take a bit of planning to sort out our travel bags, but the advance preparation allows us to relax on our journey and have an enjoyable and stress free travelling experience.