Travel Tips with children – it can be fun

Travel Tips with children – it can be fun

They fidget on the back seat, they feel ill on the packed Eurocity train or they moan and whine at check-in: You need strong nerves to travel with children. With these tips you are sure to arrive more relaxed – whatever means of transport you use:

Three games for in the car

Long car journeys are hard to handle for most children. Keep them in a good mood on the back seat, with snacks, an audio book, playing cards and plenty of breaks. Ideally you should set off early in the morning or in the evening – and hope that the kids will sleep for a few more hours. Drive outside of rush hours, so that you avoid traffic holdups as much as possible. And pack an emergency bag in case you have to spend the night somewhere en route.

Emily hit me!

Icon: Auto

Eating pieces of cake

Divide your journey into pieces of cake, for example 6 pieces of 100 kilometers each for a total distance of 600 kilometers. Take 6 sheets of cardboard and paint a circle on each sheet. On each of them you can highlight how many pieces have already been eaten and pass the appropriate cards to the children. This makes it easier for kindergarten kids and younger elementary school kids to understand how far they have traveled, and how far is still to go. Perhaps you might celebrate each piece of cake with a gummy bear, a cookie or a slice of mango.

Junior navigator

Turn your (school)child into your navigator and keep giving route-specific tasks on small cards. For example, to tell you when the first road sign for the Gotthard Pass appears. Or to keep a lookout for Geneva Airport, the Würenlos highway service area with its "Fressbalken" diner, Lake Lucerne, a striking castle or the sea. That way you can actively involve your youngsters in the journey and give them a small sense of achievement again and again. If you like you can also link each discovery with a mini-surprise, such as a comic, a snack or an audio book.

Inventing stories – about other travelers

A way to prevent boredom in a traffic jam: Think up crazy stories about the people in the other cars – the more hair-raising the better. The serious-looking man in the gray Mercedes is in fact a secret agent. He absolutely must prevent the theft of some top secret data. No wonder he looks so nervous. And the family in the gray station wagon, who are quite clearly having an argument? The girl with curly hair sitting on the backseat is a princess in disguise, from a little-known country on the Mediterranean. She was going to be kidnapped and that's why she is currently hiding with a host family… Your children are sure to have lots more ideas.

Games for on the train

Traveling by train is very similar to the car: You are stuck sitting in a restricted space and the landscape is flying past outside. But in an open-plan railroad car, every little conflict has an audience. In most long-distance trains you can reserve seats in a compartment – or even book seats in the family zones. Then you will be less conspicuous when changing full diapers, reading out fairy tales or singing children's songs. By the way, you will travel with much less stress between 9 am and 4 pm, because there will be hardly any commuters on the train.

Mommyyyyy, are we nearly there yet?

Station bingo

Give your children a different task at each station: Who can see a man with a beard, a woman in a red pullover or a stroller? It also works between stations: Who can find a black horse? A garden pond? A silver bicycle? You can also prepare a map, on which your children can mark the people and objects that they have found. Tip: Don't turn it into a competition – it will quickly become overly competitive. Instead you should get your children to look for things together – and win together when they have found something.

Cities quiz

Collect facts about the places on the way and turn them into a quiz at every station: Who founded Zurich: The Celts? The Romans? Zwingli? Or Felix and Regula? Which famous person comes from Geneva? What is the name of the specialty of Solothurn? What point of interest is to be found in Milan? Suggest four answers, maybe including something funny or crazy. And if you like you can tell them even more. For example, how we know that Zurich was founded by the Celts – and who the Celts were.

Stickers, coloring books, playing cards

Rail journeys are perfect for everything that you can do in a small space. Teach your children a new card game or surprise them with a coloring book or a sticker book. There are now some complex coloring books for older children, or elaborate sticker books in which your kids can make up, style and dress drawn figures. Other magazines combine comics, puzzles and stickers, for example from Lego.

Games for on the plane

Most children think flying is great – but not getting up at four in the morning. Let your kids sleep in the clothes they'll be traveling in, it will save you time. Include an extra hour in your timetable, then you won’t have to drag the kids through the check-in lounge like stubborn mules. And stay cool when your two-year-olds throw themselves to the ground in a tantrum at the gate: It may well be that 200 people get to witness it. But 100 of them are thinking, "I've been through that myself”, and another 50 are thinking, "I was just like that." The only one who is getting upset is you.

I want to sleep some more

Where we're flying to

Tell your children stories about the country you are flying to, adapted to their age. What is there to eat there? Which famous people come from there? Which plants and animals are there? What do you absolutely have to see? Which are the most important milestones in its history? For a school-age child, you can get a book that is set in the country in question. Or you can get the child to browse through your travel guide.

Make flying the issue

Get a picture book or a non-fiction book on the subject of flying, for example from the series "How & Why". You can look at it together with your children and answer any questions they might have. Or read a novel to them, in which planes play an important role. Classics such as "The Valley of Adventure" by Enid Blyton, "The Flying Classroom” by Erich Kästner or as a picture book, “Lindbergh – The Tale of a Flying Mouse". There are also various audio books on the subject of flying.

Get the children moving

Another two hours before the flight leaves… Get the children moving before they get fidgety and stressful. While one of the parents looks after the luggage, the other does the staircase game: Will we manage to climb a total of 150 steps in 15 minutes? Or you walk exactly 555 paces – then the children can choose a dessert from the nearest café or kiosk. Another possibility is the stop-watch walk. Every five minutes a different child takes over the leadership role and guides the others wherever he or she likes.

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