It’s holiday time. The destination is booked; perhaps yours is a villa in the Mediterranean sun, a caravan on the coast, or a long-haul trek for intrepid adventures. The travel plans are sorted; trains, planes and automobiles all worked out. All that remains is the unenviable task of rallying the troops and hoping for a journey that’s free of hiccups and full of good vibes. Just the thought of setting off for the much-anticipated trip with family, friends and pets can test even the most patient of travellers; the mind spinning into overdrive with plans of what to take and how to keep everyone entertained during the journey from home to your eventual destination. The fear of forgetting an ‘essential’ and a desperate desire to avoid a re-run of last year’s temper tantrum all adding to that sense of responsibility and feeling that only the perfect plan will do.
Help is at hand. With just a little forward planning –a decent chunk of which involves getting your fellow travellers to help lighten the load –the task of pulling that journey plan together can become something enjoyable and one that gives a great chance of a stress-free sojourn. Here’s how:
Set aside some quiet time to sketch out a ‘masterplan’ of your own first. Choose a time when you’ll be able to sit without being disturbed for an hour; which might mean putting something else off for a while, or even better, delegating duties... all in the name of a good cause! This may sound rather indulgent but consider it absolutely necessary to carve out this quality thinking time to save hassle and stress–for all –further down the line.All you need is a big sheet of paper, a comfy seat, some relaxing tunes and perhaps a refreshing tea to help get your planning brain in gear. Start by jotting down a few simple headings of all the modes of transport and locations involved in getting the getting your gang from A to B: train, airport, planned pit stop to visit Aunty Anne enroute...
Then scribble down roughly how long will be spent in each –this will really help you to think about what you’ll need for each part of the journey; a four-hour airport stopover will obviously need more thought than the short drive from the airport to your hotel. Likewise, driving across several borders will require infinitely more supplies that the short rail hop from the ferry terminal to the campsite. Add to this the names of everyone involved –pets and all! –and you have the starter plan to which you can start to add the essentials and, essentially, a baton to hand over to the gang to play their part!
Get the team involved early to ensure you have plenty of time to build your ‘travel pack’, asking everyone to contribute their ideas. Keeping things as simple as possible is key: lay down the challenge of covering the basics with a minimal wish-list to save lugging lots of gear around.Here are some suggestions for simple strategies and ideas for things to include:
Keeping it Fun
Games are a great way to pass the time during long journeys, helping to keep everyone entertained and avoiding the likelihood for sibling strops and spats. Word games are ideal as they require very little, if any, equipment. Task each to propose a game, each taking it in turns to be ‘gamemaster’ come travel day.
Happy Tummies, Happy Holidays
There are few things more likely to create discontent than a hungry tummy. A steady supply of snacks is essential to avoid the dreaded rumble of tums: nuts and dried fruits are perfect as they can be easily packed without taking up lots of space. They’re also full of essential nutrients to keep everyone going in-between meals, without resorting to expensive (and often unfulfilling) service station snacks.
Fill your flasks and keep thirst at bay –particularly important in warmer weather. Many airports now have water fountains, so you can refill your bottles once you’ve passed through immigration.
Comfort is Key
Depending on your mode of transport and duration of travel, take whatever’s needed to ensure optimal comfort during the journey, choosing items that can be easily packed and take up minimal space. Things to include could be lightweight, easily squashable jumpers, soft and light blankets, inflatable pillows, eye masks, and cosy socks. Oh, and don’t forget the little-one’s favourite small toy and pooches’ ball!
Realistic and Practical Packing
It’s easy to fill the car with home comforts for a long ride, but less so when things need to be carried. Make things fun by having a night where everyone prepares their own travel pack. Perhaps create an added air of excitement and encourage yet more reasons to get involved by offering some mini-incentives along the way. Most inventive idea? Neatest packer? Most entertaining game?It’s amazing how much motivation a little competition can generate.
A little quality time to prepare for the travel experience can transform the journey from something to be dreaded or endured before or after the holiday, in to an enjoyable part of the experience. Happy travels!