Tips for Traveling with Your Kids
Making Trips Enjoyable for Everyone
Family vacations are some of the most enjoyable experiences your kids will have while growing up, but traveling with children can cause parents to pull their hair out. These simple tips will allow you to make family traveling more enjoyable for everyone -- even parents!
* Stopping frequently during road trips is essential. The kids can use the toilet and expend some energy running around. A quick game of tag will get everyone on their feet and the next leg of the trip should be calmer and quieter.
* Making plans is an important part of traveling, but life is unpredictable. Expect plans to change and prepare for this eventuality. Keep emergency numbers handy and program emergency numbers in your kids' cell phones. Keep maps in your car, even if you use a GPS. Allow extra traveling time so that an unexpected detour or situation does not result in a domino effect.
* Keep a good supply of snacks available in your bag. Avoid snacks that are very salty, as salt increases thirst, which then increases the number of required trips to the bathroom. Some good snacks include low-sodium potato chips, granola bars, and crackers.
* Traveling by plane late in the evening is a good choice, as kids are more likely to sleep through the flight. When driving, it can be tempting to drive at night while kids sleep to minimize the number of stops and distractions, but you have to sleep sometime. When traveling by car, start out early in the morning and stop early in the evening. This gives the entire family plenty of time to de-stress before bed.
* Travel games are one of the best ways to pass the time on trips. There are CDs available with travel games, books full of travel game ideas, and travel workbooks. An online search will also reveal many classic and new road-trip games. Keep a list handy of fun and new travel games. When the kids are getting restless, pull out the list and start a game.
* When traveling by plane, try to pre-board the aircraft. It can take a few minutes to get the kids settled and the luggage stowed, and is much easier when you are first on the plane rather than last. Some airlines are "first-come, first-serve" with boarding, some charge extra for the privilege, and several airlines have a policy of allowing families with young children to board right after first class travelers.
* When TV/DVD players were first installed in mini-vans, it was revolutionary. However, now that many children own personal devices like the iPod, iPad, and small DVD players, it is even easier to keep kids entertained while traveling. Each child can choose their favorite music, movies, or TV show and, if using headphones or earbuds, can enjoy their selection while brother or sister makes their own choice. No more fighting over what to watch!
Following the above tips can help your entire family enjoy your vacation whether you are traveling by car, train, or plane. Avoid unnecessary stress, enjoy your kids, and have a great vacation!