Any type of travel needs a good plan, but especially travel that includes children.
We’ve all been there. One kid is “starving,” one kid is tired, everyone is cranky, your flight is delayed, and you’re thinking, “remind me why we thought a trip was a good idea??”
Don’t let the inevitable stress of travel dissuade you from taking that family trip you’ve been wanting to take for years. You deserve it! And with proper planning and few of our tips, you might just have the trip of a lifetime with lasting family memories.
1. Pack Smarter, Not Harder
When you’re packing, rolling your clothes instead of folding them will not only prevent wrinkles, but it’s also a space saver. Additionally you have better visibility, so you can open the suitcase and quickly pick out exactly what you want without digging around and creating a mess!
Gallon-size ziploc bags are also a great way to keep the kids’ clothes organized (and free of spills). Group together socks and underwear in one bag, t-shirts in another, swimsuits with shorts, etc.
2. Snack Prep
Travel can be exhausting, and everyone might need a little extra “fuel” to keep them going. Avoid stopping on a long drive for unhealthy fast food and gas station snacks, or paying way too much money for a bite to eat at the airport. Instead plan ahead and pack some healthy snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated.
Pro Tip: Try to avoid sugar and the inevitable sugar crash that will follow!
3. Lanyard with Contact Info
We don’t have to tell you how terrifying it is to lose sight of your kids - it can make 20 seconds feel like an hour. You can ease some of those “what if they get lost” fears by being extra prepared. First, discuss with the kids ahead of time what to do in an emergency, and what to do if they get separated from you.
Print or write down your contact information on a small piece of paper and put it in a lanyard. This will be particularly comforting in crowded situations - like an airport, a theme park, or if you are traveling abroad.
4. Bring Reusable Water Bottles
The name of the game when traveling with kids is to avoid one thing - fatigue. Most people don’t even realize when they’ve let hours go by without drinking a drop of water, and then a headache starts creeping on.
Traveling on an airplane actually dehydrates you quite a lot! The low humidity in the cabin, the pressure, and the recycled fresh air all contribute to dehydrating you when you fly.
Be sure to have a few reusable water bottles with you at all times. You can’t fly with water, so just dump them out before you go through security and then refill them from a fountain to avoid paying $$$ for expensive airport water bottles.
Added bonus: Swallowing actually helps avoid ear pressure on planes as well! Two birds, one stone.
5. Reward Good Travel Behavior
Rewards, bribery… potatoes po-tah-toes right? Let’s just get you through this trip with no meltdowns so you can keep your sanity. Whether you are driving or flying, have a system in place to reward good travel behavior.
This could be any sort of treat - a new sheet of stickers, a tasty snack, or an episode of a show on the iPad - and it will encourage them to stay on their best behavior so that you can focus on getting everyone to your destination in one piece.
6. Plan an Ongoing Game
My family used to play “the alphabet game” on roadtrips growing up. We had to find a word on a billboard or bumper sticker that started with every letter of the alphabet - in order. Arizona - check! Bathrooms - check! Construction ahead - check!
Think of something fun the whole family can play throughout the trip. Maybe it’s a scavenger hunt. Or trying to find different states on license plates. Get creative!
7. Raid the Dollar Store
Kids tend to get bored while traveling. They aren’t used to being on-the-go for so long, and they don’t have their normal comforts of home to fall back on. That’s why it’s helpful to have a big “bag of tricks,” to keep them occupied and divert their attention when you feel like they might be getting fussy.
This doesn’t have to be anything wildly fancy. Something “new” and interesting is all it takes. Hit up the dollar store or the dollar section at Target, and pack a bag with cheap books, games, and toys.
Pro Tip: Hold onto everything yourself so you can space out when they get a hold of something new.
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