Traveling with children during the summer can be stressful for any parent. Although as adults we are aware of the way things work when traveling, children are pretty new at it, so preparing them (and yourself) as much as possible is a must.
Being well prepared, involving everyone and being flexible can make the difference between making good and not so good memories for your whole family.
Planning a trip is the most important step in making sure it is a success, but keep in mind that being flexible can be a great way to make sure that everyone has fun.
Before you head out on your journey, aside from packing all your most important essentials
- Trash bags
- BABY WIPES, etc.
Make sure you talk to your children about the trip. Talking to them about it will take away some of their anxiety about what is going to happen.
Show your children a map with the route of your journey, talk about how far you are from your destination and how long it will take to get there. This knowledge will make it easier to deal with the “Are we there yets” that happen along the way. There are plenty of teachable moments for you to enjoy with your children in the process that will make your trip much more enjoyable.
It is important to talk to your children about safety and the most important rule of all: stay together! With busy airports and rest areas during the holiday travel season, it’s best to have a plan to keep children safe by making sure you show them just how to do so.
Teach your children:
- Your phone number
- Full name
- Your address and the address of your destination so in case you do get separated, they will know how to reach you.
A great tip is to evenly distribute or assign the children between the adults to make sure everyone is always accounted for.
Also, be sure to keep any medicines, important documents, currency and valuables at hand or in your personal bag to ensure easy access. Knowing that everyone is well prepared, will give you peace of mind throughout your journey.
When taking time off from work to travel with your family, every single minute counts! A travel itinerary should be fitting to the age of your children and how much travel they (and you) can handle.
- Try to avoid overwhelming distances with younger children
- Avoid planning trips that are so jam-packed with activities that it becomes an unpleasant experience.
If traveling by car:
- Be sure you have plenty of time to get to your destination as well as plenty of time to travel back home.
- Factor in rest area stops, meal stops and overnight stops.
If traveling by airplane:
- Make sure you arrive at the airport early and have all of your arrangements confirmed before you leave home.
- Online check-in is a great convenience to avoid unnecessary standing in line with your children
If your trip allows it, be flexible with your schedule and have a back up plan in case you need to make adjustments.
As we said before, being well prepared will make things easier when traveling with children. Bring along activities that your children can stay busy with to pass the time. They can each bring:
- a small book bag with some favorite toys
- drawing pads
- if they are old enough, portable gaming devices, a Kindle, iPod, iPad or other kind of tablet.
With the ease of their portable devices, children can choose games and activities to download into their devices before you leave your home. This will give them a few hours of screen time during the trip & keep them entertained.
Of course, no parent wants their children to miss out on the sights and sounds of travel with their noses stuck on their devices the entire time.
To make things interesting, make a list of age-appropriate games to keep in your pocket that you can pull out for inspiration. Here are some of our favorites:
- iSpy – Look around and pick an object you can see either in the car or along the road. Then give others a clue such as, “I spy with my little eye… something green.” Continue to give more clues until they can guess what it is.
- The Alphabet Game – This one works best in car trips, but can work at airports during wait time. Start with the letter “A” and find one on a sign, truck, building or license plate, say the word and then move on to the next letter. You can do this as a competition or together as a family for the younger beginner readers.
- Drawing games – Have pads and pencils (or crayons) handy to play several games including hangman, tic tac toe or to just draw silly things.
- Once Upon a Time – This game is fun and allows everyone to use his or her imagination. The first player starts telling a story, and then suddenly breaks off and the next player has to continue it.
- Yes/No Game – Children LOVE this game. Players take turns asking questions and answers have to avoid using YES and NO.
- Audio Books or Stand up Comedy Audio – As simple as this sounds, it works! Children can be surprisingly drawn into a good story or a good standup comedian (family friendly, of course).
- iPads! There may come a point in your travels where a little quiet time will be greatly appreciated (and needed), when this happens, have your iPad fully charged and ready to go with your child’s favorite games.
Cherish Every Moment
Last but not least, our favorite tip for parents traveling with children is, stay off the phone! Sometimes taking a phone call, worrying about taking photos, or even sharing status updates can make you miss beautiful moments with your children.
Before you know it they will be all grown up with families of their own! Make every second count. We hope you find our tips for parents traveling with children to be a helpful step towards an awesome journey.