I remember the very first time somebody gave me travel advice when traveling with kids. "Pack light", they had said. This is some of the silliest advice that I have ever heard. I have been trying to wrap my head around the logic since they said it. If I understand correctly, their logic is that you won't have as much luggage to drag around. Dragging around luggage is a very minor thing. I would rather pack more than I need than too little. Going on vacation is expensive as it is. If you have ever stayed in an all inclusive resort, you probably know that their gift shops are extremely expensive. I would hate to have to buy tennis shoes, a rain jacket or a sweatshirt for one of my kids for $40+ just because I didn't pack appropriately.
When Traveling with kids, it is better to over pack than under pack. I personally would rather spend more on bags at the airport than buying extras for the entire family.
If you know you are going to be traveling somewhere that has access to a washer and dryer, that is awesome! You can wear and wash your clothes many times over. It is important to bring something of everything for the kids. You will want to bring a rain jacket, sweatshirt (or something heavier if it is really cold out), sandals, tennis shoes, a swim suit (at least one), toys or something to keep them occupied, snacks, socks, underwear, shorts, long sleeved shirt, t-shirts, pants and sunglasses. If they have a special stuffed animal or blanket that they always sleep with, don't forget to bring that as well. It may be a miserable vacation if you forget your child's comfort item. If you are going to be spending a lot of time outside don't forget the sunscreen. You may want to bring swim goggles and a beach towel too.
It is a smart idea to bring a small travel bag for each one of the kids. Whether you are flying or riding in a car, it is great to have something to keep them occupied. Make sure there are snacks, a notebook, crayons, a book to read and other things that may enjoy doing. A handheld video game may be the perfect thing to pack in this bag if your child has one. If you do pack a video game or mp3 player, be sure to pack the headphones as well. The driver in the car or the passengers next to you on the plane will definitely be grateful.
If you have a baby and don't plan on taking a vehicle anywhere, it is much easier to leave the car seat behind. Even the stroller is a hassle to bring with you on vacation. Wearing your baby in a carrier is the best option. Just be sure the carrier is the right size for your little one and is comfortable for the parents. Wearing a child that is not ergonomically supportive may leave the parents with a sore back and the child cranky.
One of the top rules when traveling with kids is to make sure they are well rested and well fed. There is nothing worse than dealing with a cranky child while en route to your destination or even when you get to the place you are traveling to. If you have a young child who still takes several naps during the day, you may want to save nap time for the time you will be traveling. Sleeping may help keep a bored child occupied a little bit longer during the trip.
While traveling in the car it can be fun for the kids to play games. Be sure to bring some sing along songs that the entire family knows. Find some that uses chants and hand motions to keep them well entertained. Think of some road games while on the road for the older ones. How many different license plates with different states can you count? How many people can you get to wave to you? How many different color cars can you spot or how many different makes of vehicles? If the children start to fight, a great game to play is who can stay quietest the longest. Maybe the parents wan to bribe the kids with whoever wins the game earns a quarter. This is a great way my parents used to keep my brother and I quiet in the car when we would start to argue.
To keep young children safe while on vacation it is a smart idea to give them a safety bracelet or necklace to wear. These can be made by the parents and can include parent's names, phone number and address as well as the child's name and birth date. If there are any medical issues that the child may have, it is smart to include this as well. Older children should know their address and phone number. This is a good tool to utilize as it may come in handy if kids get separated from their parents at any point in time during their vacation. While this is great information for kids to have handy, it is also an important time to talk to them about stranger danger. Let them know that it is not okay to go with anyone for any reason. If they are lost they should find someone in authority as quickly as possible and ask for help. While this unfortunate circumstance is rare, it is reality and it can happen. Keeping a close eye on your kids, especially if they like to wander will help.
Before you know it you will be out of the car and enjoying your vacation with the family. Keep traveling with kids fun and relaxing for everyone. The most important rule while traveling with kids is to remember to have fun, take lots of pictures and enjoy the beautiful memories that you will create with your loved ones.
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