Travelling with Children

Tips to make train and road travel with children easier

Anurima
3 to 7 years

Created by Anurima
Updated on Aug 13, 2013

Tips to make train and road travel with children easier

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ? Ernest Hemingway
Couldn’t be truer for parents who travel with young children! Travelling with children takes a little bit of planning to be successful and if done well, the journey itself becomes as rewarding as the actual vacation. In this part of the blog, I share some tips you may find useful when travelling with children by train or by road.
Train Travel
1. Safety rules: It will help to lay certain ground rules that must be followed by the children when travelling. Simple instructions such as not accepting food from strangers, not standing near the main door, not wandering off, using the toilet only with an accompanying adult can help ensure your child’s safety to a great extent.
2. Arriving early: When travelling with children, it is advisable to arrive early at the station so that you may have extra time if your child needs to use the restroom. It will also help avoid the last minute rush at the station, which makes it difficult for one to move around with children and luggage in tow.
3. Assigning seats/berths: Once you find the berths you would be travelling in, you may assign individual seats or berths to the older children to prevent them from fighting or arguing.
4. Clothing: If travelling in air-conditioned train cars, you may dress your child in appropriate clothing to as the change in temperature may affect the child’s health. You may also carry a pair of extra slippers for each child, as they will be easier to take off and wear as compared to shoes.
5. Familiarizing yourself: For safety reasons, you may take note of the fellow passengers and know who are sitting around you. You may especially keep an eye on the people or children your child talks to during the journey.
6. Food and drink: You may avoid buying food and drinks from hawkers who come into the train. The food may not be safe to be consumed by your child. I always carry home food such as tomato rice, lemon rice, rasam, pooris, parathas, idlis and other dry snacks such as biscuits and fruits. Cooked food needs to be consumed within the first few hours of the journey, otherwise it may spoil.
7. Buying liquids: When buying water or other liquids, one needs to make sure the bottle is sealed. It is very common for people to reuse mineral water or coca cola bottles to fill in with dirty water or colored water, which may resemble a cold drink. Consuming anything like that could have serious health issues. You may use bottled mineral water to rinse and wash baby bottles, as the water in the train may not be safe for the same.
8. Breastfeeding: You may sit in a comfortable position; cover yourself with a shawl to nurse your baby. Lying down when nursing also provides with some privacy.
9. Looking around: I remember how my grandmother used to show us the paddy fields, animals, farmers, factories during train journeys and tell us what they were. It was fascinating for us as children to see a part of the world we would otherwise not see or know about. You could tell your children stories about farmers on how one spends their typical day or talk about a giant factory. Children will always enjoy listening to stories.
10. Window seat: When a child sits near a window, you may prevent them from putting their hands out of the window, even when the train halts at a station. Windows must be closed at night.
11. Disposables: Paper plates, plastic cups, spoons, bowls, tissues, newspapers, plastic bags (as many as possible) are ideal for long train journeys. You may use them for your meals (if not eating from the train pantry) and snacks. They can simply be disposed off without the hassle of wash and store.
12. Delays: Delays can be a part of any journey, making the distance feel even longer. To help make the journey a fun and a memorable one for your children, you may need to come prepared with extras- extra food, extra water, drinks, extra clothes, toys, books and music.

Car/Bus travel
1. Car seat: An age appropriate child seat is a necessity when travelling with children by car. The seats need to be placed and attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Infant seats are usually rear facing so as to minimize the damage in case of an impact. I normally check the car seats; wash and air-dry the covers before a long journey.
2. Clothing: Loose, comfortable and weather appropriate clothing is recommended for children especially if the journey is a long one.
3. Preparing for the weather: You may carry sunscreen lotion to avoid sun tanning. Umbrellas and raincoats may be carried if you suspect, depending on the weather at your destination.
4. Snacks: Light snacks such as cookies, biscuits; chocolates, dry fruits, fruit juices and water will come in handy. You may limit the amount of snacks you give your child by having healthier options like fruit and tetra packs of sweet and salty lassi.
5. Time of the journey: If going on a long journey, we prefer to leave at a time when the kids are likely to fall asleep, which is early morning or afternoon. This way, the children sleep through some part of the journey. Avoiding the rush hour will make the journey less stressful.
6. Comfort toys: You may allow your child to carry along a toy (a soft toy) or a blanket as a comfort toy.
7. Involving older children: Older children may be given maps to help navigate the way or be made the official photographer to make the trip an interesting one for them.
8. Making it fun: Singing songs, telling jokes or making up stories makes a drive more interesting. I have always found talking with each other to be more fun and entertaining than only listening to music (when no one talks)! In one of the last trips we made, we played games such as trying to recognize the brand of the cars around us or predicting the color of the next car that may overtake us.
9. Taking frequent stops: Stopping every few hours (on long drives) at petrol stations or restaurants will make the trip less tiring for children. Frequent stops can delay the entire trip, but a quick stop will provide the children with an opportunity to burn off some energy and sometimes that is all they need to happily get back into the car. When travelling by bus, you may want to walk inside the bus or step out for a few minutes (if it’s safe). Although you it would be advisable to stay close to the bus and keep your child with you at all times.
Basic Travel Essentials
1. Baby food/milk: You may carry an insulated jug (more for longer journeys) with warm water for your baby. Formula milk, tetra pack milk cartons or milk powder (when baby is on cow’s milk), baby cereals, homemade cereals (dry), fruits like banana (can be mashed and fed to babies) and apples will come handy.
2. Baby accessories: Wipes, diapers, extra clothes, blankets, some bed sheets and shawls are some of the essentials. You may use a blanket or a shawl to cover your baby when changing diapers.
3.Toys, pacifiers, books, color pens: To keep children busy during the journey, you may carry their favorite toys, storybooks and activity books. Children get bored with the same toys/books very quickly. To avoid being in a situation wherein they are bored with all the toys or books that you carried along, you may want to take them out one at a time and offering them something new every few hours. I have noticed that some of the common games like ludo, snakes and ladders and checkers come in travel packs ( the boards are smaller and the pegs all have magnet under them so they do not slip off the board), it may be a great way to make the journey fun.
4. Medicines: Carrying essential medicines such as those for fever, cold, motion sickness medicine such as avomine, vicks and band aids is very important. I also carry some asafoetida (hing) for indigestion. A pinch of hing does wonders for stomach aches, diarrhea and colic.
5. Sanitizer: I cannot stress the importance of carrying a hand sanitizer enough. They may be used before eating, after using the toilet and whenever necessary. They are safe for children above the age of 2 years. You may wipe your baby’s hands, face and body with baby wipes.

Every family wants a summer vacation filled with memories that last a lifetime. A little advance planning helps to ensure a great trip. Hope you will find this information helpful while planning, travelling and successfully reaching your destination.

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| Jun 11, 2015

Nice tips. Feeling the fun :)

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| Jan 01, 2015

Nabamita, some tips for you: (if the kid is above 2-2. 5 yrs old)talking with them describing where are we going n what would be doing, also taking inputs from them as to what they visualize about the journey or time that the kid would be spending now in the new place, if u r in car can start some of their fav nursery rhymes, or songs that they like, if possible can take a new toy(not expensive) so that he or she gets busy exploring it, telling stories. Hope it helps you. Do share any of your tips which proved helpful to you.

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| May 15, 2014

nice article anurima however kids these days unlike us are nt interested to look at the fields and it becomes diffcult to manage them the entire journey any tip for this.

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| Aug 17, 2013

Very well thought out practical and useful tips !!

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