WE'RE about to head away on a month-long family holiday – and I've banned my kids from bringing screens with us.

I don't want to find them looking down at a games console or a tablet when they should be engaging with the world all around us.

That's not what family holidays are all about.

For me, the joy of the trip is exploring new places and spending time together, even while we're in the airport or on the plane.

If we're all plugged into separate devices, then we really could be anywhere, which defeats the object.

And if screens are an option, then my sons aged 10, 8 and 3 won't reach for anything else to keep themselves occupied.

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Taking expensive devices on our travels is just one more
thing to have to try to keep an eye on, so they can end up being the source of more stress rather than making life easier.

When we flew to Australia, my eldest boys were aged one and three, but we managed to pack enough books, toys and snacks to keep them busy between naps.

It was hard work keeping them occupied on the long flights there and back, but I wanted to set the bar high early on.

I think once you've established tech as the go-to entertainment option, it's much more difficult to restrict that.

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Stickersbooks have done wonders for my kids on long journeysCredit: Catherine Lofthouse
We can spend the time talking as a family as wellCredit: Supplied

Nowadays my 10-year-old is very occasionally allowed to use his Nintendo Switch on long car journeys when the other two are asleep as he struggles to nap during the day.

But we try to keep our travels screen-free so we can make the most of where we are and who we are with.

Audiobooks, stickerbooks and toys with multiple uses are all
firm favourites for keeping the kids busy while travelling.

We've all enjoyed some incredible children's classics on audiobook together.

I was blown away by both Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and 101 Dalmatians, quality stories that will keep adults and children alike entranced for hours.

Even better, you can generally borrow kids' audiobooks from your local library free of charge, so it's a very cheap form of entertainment for all the family.

Sticker books are another great win for smaller children and you can usually find ones that are related to your travels one way or another.

I like to use them to introduce the language of the country we are visiting or find out more about its culture and history.

You can dip in and out and you don't need to remember to bring crayons or a pen like you would with colouring books or puzzle books.


My main rule is that less is more when you're travelling.

It's so easy for everything to get scattered and lost and you want to be able to pack up and go at the end of a journey, not searching under seats for lost bits of Lego or a missing pencil.

It's inevitable that stuff will get left behind when you're trying to herd three children and a mountain of bags about
the place.

If you lose a stickerbook, it's hardly the end of the world – a games console would be another matter altogether.

I also think that arguments over how much screen time is okay can easily end up blighting a holiday, especially if you already have tension over that at home.

An absolute no-no for me is seeing children on devices at restaurants and cafes.

We don't use phones or tablets at the dinner table at home
and it's no different when we are out and about.

While it's a longer wait for food than at home, it gives you time to have a chat about your day and what you've enjoyed.

Children are never going to learn the art of mealtime conversation if adults just expect them to be silent and on screens.

Most places we stay have TV and I think that's plenty to keep kids occupied when they wake up early or need a bit of downtime.

It's fun seeing how local TV programmes and cartoons differ from what we have at home – and can even pick up some of the lingo from it.

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All in all, I'd recommend anyone thinking that a screen-free holiday might be a good move to give it a go.

Phones, tablets and games consoles all have their place in modern life, but sometimes it's great to take a break.

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