In a quest to encourage families to travel, we’ve asked some of our fantastic fans to submit guest posts on their top tips for travelling with children. Jay Emme is a super talented photographer and confidence coach based in Birmingham, U.K. We saw some photos of her family’s recent trip to Corfu, Greece, and we immediately fell in love! The images are gorgeous, and the advice and travel tips are spot on! We hope you enjoy reading this!

Jay Emme | Corfu | HDYTI

I was travelling internationally with ‘The Smalls’, Noah, 6 and Isaac, 5 for the first time. Our destination? The beautiful Greek island of Corfu. Isaac is always up for adventure with his head in the clouds while Noah is grounded, and a very deep thinker who is always generally aware of his surroundings. With such different personality traits between them, I tried to imagine what it would be like in their shoes, to be in a completely different country, having travelled by car, plane and coach to get there. Here are a few suggestions on how I made life a little bit easier for my little newbie travellers.

 

1. Home away from home

Jay Emme | Corfu | HDYTI

Whilst I bought new backpacks for them to take, I wanted them to have small and familiar every-day items to give them a sense of comfort and habit. So in their backpacks, they were each allowed to take 8 of their Matchbox cars, 2 colouring books, 5 story books, a pencil case with pens and crayons, their water bottles which they use for school, and their favourite cuddly toy. Of course these bits and pieces were likely to get lost, dirty, scuffed, whatever. However that could also happen right down the road from our house. So being relaxed about possessions meant that the boys could also relax in comfort and retain some feeling of being at home..

 

2. Flying with ease

Jay Emme | Corfu | HDYTI

Whilst he’s not afraid of heights, Noah is certainly very cautious when up high! As he slowly realised the rather large distance between the plane and the earth, he panicked a little. How did I make him feel better? I gave him MASSES of cuddles and then invited him to look up; to look at the beauty of the clouds, look at the patterns in the sky and look out for other planes in the far distance. I encouraged him to feel OK looking at the ground, I encouraged him to look at the detail of the ground and asked him questions such as: Where are the mountains? What shapes are those fields? Do the cars look like bugs? Can you see the white waves of the sea? Did you see those golden arches in the city right where we took off? By encouraging him to engage in the detail of the journey, he became calm and relaxed. It worked for him!

 

3. Food adventures

Jay Emme | Corfu | HDYTI

Encouraging kids to try new foods creates an adventure in itself. I’m very lucky that my boys will eat almost anything and so I was keen for them to try the local Corfu cuisine. We stayed in an all-inclusive hotel which provided buffet style hot and cold meals. So on their plates, I put some of the basic and familiar necessities whilst inviting them to have just a spoon of unfamiliar foods. I didn’t pressure them to eat, but made sure that there was always something on their plates that they would like. My key phrase was (and always has been) “It is good to try”, a phrase which we seem to use a lot in our family life in general! For every new thing they tried, they had a reward of either a new dessert or tasty fruit. Meanwhile, the staff at the hotel were super keen to see how they were getting on. The attention they received became a wonderful thing for them.

 

4. Learning the lingo

Jay Emme | Corfu | HDYTI

I don’t speak a word of Greek, and had no clue what anyone was saying. However, politeness goes a very long way. Every day, we would say, “Good morning” to the staff, who always replied with the same in Greek and then in English. By day three, The Smalls were greeting the staff first, saying ‘Good Morning’, ‘Thank You’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’. Nothing tricky, nothing fancy, but enough for The Smalls to feel like they were fitting in. You can use Google Translate to help you be certain with pronunciations. However, to be honest, the staff will always appreciate you at least having a go at speaking the local lingo. Most kids quickly embrace new languages…encourage them.

 

5. Let them play

Jay Emme | Corfu | HDYTI

Don’t feel under pressure to pack in a ton of activities for a holiday. We were stuck in the hotel for whole week, as most of the island had closed down, due to this being end of the season. Although we didn’t get to explore the island in any great detail, we compensated by grabbing our backpacks, a water bottle and some sticks, and just walked as far as we could along the beach. The Smalls wanted to be explorers, on an adventure. So that’s exactly what they did. No additional gimmicks, no extra toys, just a little extra imagination. And when it was raining or too cold to go to the beach, they had their creature comforts from home to play with. Matchbox cars and a whole bunch of pillows are pretty cool when you play with them on a tiled floor! It also helped that The Mr and I had our Kindles, so we could pack “emergency” stories on those.

If anything feels like it might complicate things, then it probably will. Given the chance, kids will quite happily play in a new, unfamiliar environment, and will enjoy it if they see it as an adventure for them. Make yourself a part of their adventure, rather than making them feeling like they have to tag along with you. Besides, there is no harm in adults getting a break from adult life too!

Whatever adventures you choose to create or partake in with your kids, we wish you happy holidays!

You can find Jay at www.jayemmephotography.com, and follow her travels on instagram.

Have you recently been on a family break for the first time? We would love to hear your tips on what worked well and what did not. Are you a veteran, road hardened, family traveller? Do share your insights by leaving a comment…or two below 🙂