Traveling solo can present its challenges. Late flights, missed flights, flat tires, no itinerary and other mishaps can put a financial strain and time restraint on your vacation. What about traveling with more than just you? Vacationing with the entire family, your partner, kids, and even pets can be chaotic and stressful when it should be relaxing and fun. Your family trip doesn’t have to be a disorganized mess. There are lots of tips, tricks and ideas to get you and your family safely and happily to your destination and have a great time while you’re there. Do you have any ideas for making traveling with kids easier?
Family road trips
Lots of families prefer to travel by car since flying can be expensive. Hours spent driving in the car to your destination can be taxing though, both on the parent’s patience as well as the kid’s. For road trips, especially if you have to spend the night to utilize for a stress-free journey. Along with your large suitcases or bags, pack one smaller bag for each child. In the little bag, have an outfit ready for that night and the next day, as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste and anything else needed for a night’s stay and the next day. This prevents you from having to search through multiple large suitcases and bags. Also, young kids like things they are familiar with, especially if you’re spending time away from home in strange places. If there is room, try to bring their blanket and pillow. This is not only comforting, but it will let them rest more relaxed in the car. Babies and young children will drop things, spill, get sick and much more. Bring some wet wipes, paper towels and a few small plastic bags for cleanup on your trip, or attempt to do a quick clean when you stop for fuel.
The car journey begins
As the miles pass, you may have to deal with hunger, boredom, and crying. Packing some snacks in zip lock bags will take up less space and will help fight hunger, so you don’t have to stop every half an hour. Snacks that are low in sugar are ideal so they don’t have an energy rush in a vehicle that they can’t do anything about. Try goldfish or crackers, cut up vegetables or other easy and healthy snacks to grab on the go. A small cooler can keep drinks and food fresh for longer too. To beat boredom, download the kid’s favorite movie soundtrack or songs and play them for a while (at the cost of your sanity,) or download a movie or two on your iPad or iPod so they can watch for a bit. A couple of new toys or one of their favorite toys will keep them entertained for a while. Bringing several toys is a good idea so you can rotate them out with another to help fight the stillness and boredom. Crying is something that usually happens just because your child is frustrated and wants out of the car. Remaining calm and remind yourself that your child is safe, dry and fed will help pass the crying fit until they sleep or stop. Getting in the back seat with your child or children (if there’s room) can often break up the monotony of the ride and let you spend a little time together for an hour or more.
Stopping for bathroom breaks and the food is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be awful. Try doing shorter breaks mixed in with longer breaks. For example, make a quick stop for about 10 minutes just to use the restroom. Take a more extended break later if you stop for lunch or let you and the kids walk around a bit to stretch and get some energy out. If you’re staying the night at a hotel, see if there is an indoor pool or nearby park for your kids to play. It will help them sleep better (and you too!)
Flying with kids
When you’re flying with kids, you need the same general things as in your small bag that was mentioned for the car. A small bag for each child with something to eat, a change of clothes (probably two changes of clothes would be better) and something to keep them entertained. If you have a carry-on bag, put the extra items in there to help consolidate. Packing baby or children’s clothes in a plastic bag within the carry-on or child’s bag will allow them to use the bag for trash or dirty clothes. Many destinations have strollers for rent or kids areas to play in to help lighten a load of equipment you may need to haul with you. Try purchasing and shipping wet wipes, formula, diapers, etc. to have them at your destination which would also help lighten the luggage load, especially on an airplane. Bringing a small blanket will help too, as sometimes the planes can get cold from the forced air. When the pilot turns the seat belt sign off, it is ok to take some slow laps with your baby. The motion and movement may help calm them, just don’t crowd the aisle or cause a traffic jam. If you need to nurse, try the children’s area in the airport (if there is one), an internet booth, or somewhere more private if you wish to do so. Requesting an aisle seat is helpful for this as well because you can shield yourself or have your husband help assist with a blanket. Feeding during take-off and landing will help pop the baby’s ears and make them less fussy.
Traveling with kids can be easy peasy
Every time you travel with more than just you can be challenging. But, it doesn’t have to be impossible! When you’re traveling with kids, organization, before you begin, is the key. Have everything laid out and packed into appropriate luggage and small bags for easy reach and easy packing. Ship what you can if you need to or rent what you can when you get there. A little research ahead of time can get you a window seat, see where the parks and playgrounds are, or nearby stores, or hotels with pools. Older children can each have their backpack with clothes, snacks, and toys that they can carry to help with the luggage load. If you’re flying, you may have to consolidate a bit, but it can be done. Coloring books and crayons are light, small and easy to pack and can help fight boredom. Also, games with magnets are good for both car rides and flights because the pieces won’t get so easily lost. There are lots of tips, tricks, and ideas for you while you travel with kids!