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10 Tips for travelling with a pre-schooler...

Annette Holden

1Allow them to carry their own small pack with their "treasures" such as pencils, activity books, small story books, picture cards, raisins, fruit drink and tissues.

2Take along a small exercise book and glue stick to enable your pre-schooler to compile her or his travel diary with ticket stubs, clean lolly wrappers, drawings and postcards.

3Encourage them to choose one soft toy that will accompany them and for which they must be responsible. (Ensure it is named and has an appropriate contact phone number on it). This is especially handy in "strange" beds and locations.

4Travel sickness can be unpredictable! Always have a small drink, snack and packet of wipes on hand, along with a change of clothing.

5Gift wrap surprise "incentives" (small toys, books, fruit juice-based sweets) for emergencies (boredom, exhaustion, unexpected lengthy waits in transit). Then the fancy wrap can also be used in imaginative play and recycled appropriately.

6Encourage a sense of responsibility and ownership of the holiday by allowing your JourneyBabe to buy her or his own postcards and stamps. I gave Erin a few coins in her purse (but not so many that would be a problem if lost or stolen) so that she could buy items for her daddy and friends.

7Always schedule a rest break each day at a time when your JourneyBabe (and you, too) need it, and allow for a quieter relaxing day every few travel days. Many of our rests were had during train journeys.

8Also schedule "run around" and "noise-time" in an appropriate park, at a playground or in a field. On bad weather days Erin and I found excellent, warm play facilities at some fast food chains, in a few department stores and even at international airports. Schipol, Manchester Terminal 1 and Helsinki Vantaa are to be congratulated for their child-friendly playrooms.

9Enjoy the difference of travel with a young child -- picnics, markets and simple pleasures can make the journey even more memorable. Highlights of Erin's holiday included travelling at the top of double decker buses, in London taxis, collecting eggs at a farm, and dancing to buskers.

10Finally, be prepared for emergencies. Always take more money than you expect to need (or at least cards as emergency back-up) as well as an international telephone card (if only for peace of mind). Always keep some form of identification in your child's pocket in case you accidently become separated.

Child-friendly accommodation...

Having fun!Travelling with my pre-schooler, I found my decision to pre-book accommodation was well founded. In Scotland, young children are generally not welcome in hostels, and many English ones only allow pre-schoolers to stay in family rooms.

Some B&Bs and guest houses were welcoming but others not, so it pays to check in advance.

We found a marvellous farm-backpackers hostel right in the centre of Scotland, on good transport links in a beautiful, less-touristy part of the highlands: Newtonmore Independent Hostel. It was friendly, inexpensive and comfortable. Families with young children are very welcome here.




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