As most of you know, I love to travel and I have totally passed on the travel bug to my family! YAY :) We love to go on adventures big or small and explore new places! Flying for a family of 4 can get expensive, so lots of our trips are road trips! But, on the occasion where we do get to fly, we still use the same system for traveling with our kiddos because it seems to work great for us! So, if you'll be traveling with children this year and are a little nervous (as well you should be!) take a deep breath and check out the tips below on how to make traveling with children less stressful and lots more fun!
1. Prep the kids. If you'll be in the car for a few hours, let them know. Tell them how long the flight is going to be. Depending on the age of your kiddos, you don't have to be exact. A simple, "We're going to be on this plane for a long time." Is enough. This helps keep the "Are we there yet" chants at bay, at least for a little while!
2. Keep your expectations low. Kids are kids. They will get cranky, they will ask a million questions, they will get bored, they will need to go to the bathroom 5 minutes after you asked if they needed to go and they said no. If you mentally prepare yourself for these situations, they may not seem so major when they actually happen. Don't expect perfection from them, but do tell them what type behavior you want from them. I find that if I tell my kids how I want them to behave beforehand, it's easier to redirect them when they get rowdy or off track.
3. Have entertainment. Yup, I am not above having my kids watch movies or play games on an ipad or laptop when I know it's going to be a long trip. We also pack them books, small toys, pencils, crayons, and paper to draw. For our last road trip we printed out a few family-friendly road trip games online, such as license plate games and I Spy. We even found Road Trip Bingo game cards!
4. Plan a surprise (or two!) On our road trip to Ensenada, Mexico this past spring, we used our Happy Family Movement Road Trip in a Box kit. This was a blast! The kids really loved opening up the packages at the designated times and taking breaks to play with water guns, blow bubbles, or just have a dance party in the middle of nowhere! The kits are no longer available to purchase, but you can totally make your own! Just grab a few fun dollar type toys, wrap them up, give them instructions on when to open them and wait for the fun to happen! You could do simple things like temporary tattoos, gummy worms, stamp kits, an inflatable beach ball, etc!!! The possibilities are endless and will definitely make for a memorable trip!
5. Rest. This one, I learned from experience! We totally didn't plan for much rest on our summer trip to the east coast and we hit the ground running when we go there. This was a huge mistake and we ended up with some major cranky jet lagged kids in Washington DC! Once we slowed down a bit and they got a good night's sleep, we were great. The remainder of our trip was awesome! From now on, we start our trips a bit slower, don't plan a ton of activities when we first arrive, especially if there's a time difference, and we find it makes for a much better trip overall!
6. Start travel traditions. We love to goecache! So, for us going on a trip also means we get to do a fun geocache in another state. The kids expect it now and it's part of our road trip tradition. Whenever we travel to California or Utah, you know we're going to have Chick-fil-a because we don't have any in Vegas. Also, when we go on road trip, you know Johnny Cash's Everywhere Man is gonna be playing! Our traditions aren't too big but they're ours and we love them! Whatever your tradition is, big or small, your kids will love it. Traditions make kids feel special and who doesn't love that?
7. Have Fun! Some of my best memories as a child are from family vacations and I really want my kiddos to have these kinds of memories too! I love it when one of my kids starts off a conversation with, "Remember when we did/went..." We know that traveling with children can be tough and tiring, but it's also so worth it! And the best part about traveling with little ones is that they don't remember the time when you were stressed out at the rental car ticket counter or the time they made you upset because they broke a coffee mug at the souvenir shop, nope, kids tend to forget that stuff pretty quickly. They'll remember the little things. The ice cream cone you got them at the beach, the fun rides they rode over and over, the jokes you told, the giggles, the fun, the good stuff. And at the end of it all, that's what really matters. The good stuff!
Here's to safe travels, fun adventures, and making memories that last a lifetime!