With Christmas and Summer holidays just around the corner, many families will soon be travelling to visit family or get away for some much-needed down time, perhaps with little ones in tow for the first time. Kerry Seymour is a mother of 3, who has plenty of experience travelling with children.
Tell us a little about you, and the lifestyle you’ve chosen for your family.
We live in sunny Queensland and are a kombi loving, beach living, plant powered family who home school the kids while globe-trotting the world learning valuable real-life lessons along the way. I’m a wife to a wonderful and supportive man and mother of 3 children, Miss Bella (21), Mr Joshua (11) and of course, the beautiful Miss Piper Sienna, @pipersienna (4).
I am by no means an expert on anything, just one mum sharing my journey.
What does “Home for Christmas” mean to you and your family?
The notion of ‘Christmas’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, for us the most important aspect of Christmas is to spend time catching up with family and friends. We choose not to travel for the month of December, so we can relax and spend the whole month at home, taking time to put up the tree, heading out to see the lights and attending the local Christmas festivities. Christmas day is a very relaxed affair spent in the back yard with close family, exchanging gifts, eating and watching the kids splashing in the pool.
Do you have any tips for living and giving more sustainably this Christmas?
For a few years I’ve used any “paper” I already have at home to wrap my gifts – newspaper, brown paper, calendars or maps are great, but my go-to is to use the children’s artwork as wrap for presents, family love it and the kids are so proud to see their works of art put to good use.
We also focus as a family on remembering that Christmas time is an important time for charities. I take the kids out to shop for gifts, which they then wrap, and we give to those who otherwise might not receive anything.
Where is your favourite place to spend the holidays?
It's got to be 'home'. We travel so much during the year that it’s nice to take the time out to just be all together in our own familiar space.
What are your top 10 tips for travelling with children?
1. Leave as early as possible in the morning if you’re going on a long driving trip. That way you’ll avoid the traffic, and the kids will be so tired they’ll fall asleep in the back seat.
2. Pack lots of healthy food into small containers. Handing over low G.I. snacks on a regular basis can break up the journey, and moderate their mood as well.
3. Don’t be too ambitious. Don’t plan your holiday the way you would have done before the kids came along. This means leaving free time in your schedule to allow for the unexpected. This might be dealing with an emergency like an illness, or simply allowing the kids to return for a second visit to a place they found particularly interesting. You will also need to factor in plenty of down time, to just give the kids a chance to play or to allow you to stick to regular bedtime routines. Plus, it helps to do a little research on child friendly facilities at your destination - playgrounds, parks, kid friendly cafes, toy stores, swimming pools, bike tracks, duck ponds, cinemas, beaches, anything that will be exciting for them.
4. Leave some things open for improvisation. There’s no point in throwing caution to the wind, packing up your kids, your bags and your sanity if you’re going to try and control every single element of the journey. And you won’t be able to control everything, even if you try. After all, that’s the point of travel – to expand your horizons!
5. Get the kids interested in the destination. A few weeks before you travel, get the kids to research your destination online and in books. Teach them a few fun facts and allow them to choose some places they would like to visit when they are there. This way the holiday will be a more interactive experience and something they are more likely to remember for years to come.
6. Long haul flights with little ones can be managed, as long as you are prepared. Talk to the kids beforehand about what will happen. Get them to pack their own small bag with a few activities for the flight. I recommend taking tablets if you have them. For young children, these can be a very welcome distraction, as little ones are often too small to use the in-seat entertainment.
7. Know the weather of the destination you are visiting, to help reduce over-packing. If possible, plan your travel through one season or climate. Check the extended weather forecast and do a bit of research on weather patterns for your travel destination. If you’re travelling in the middle of winter, leave the summer dresses and shorts behind and take a versatile coat instead that can be worn day and night.
8. Pack an all-in-one plug adaptor. Wouldn’t it be easier if each country used the same wall sockets and prongs?!!! To rectify that we carry an all-in-one plug adaptor to be able to plug in our numerous chargers and phones and laptops when we travel. We don’t go anywhere without one of these now.
9. Don’t forget the baby wipes. Seriously, how did we ever exist before baby wipes? Keep a box handy for all those spills and messy hands and faces on the plane and in the car.
10. Find your compassion – for your kids and for yourself. You’re all in unchartered territory and remember how overwhelming this can be for little ones, to be so far out of their comfort zones. Extra cuddles, extra patience for their changes in routine and extra deep breaths for yourself and your partner, remember all of you are doing your very best.