Traveling with family can be a very memorable and fun time to bond for parents and kids. Unfortunately, sometimes kids can sometimes cause a bit of stress. But, never fear – here are a few tips to help take the stress out of traveling with kids so you can focus more on enjoying family time and creating memories.
Depending on your destination, try to plan different activities to satisfy the varying interests among your family members. Not every activity will be enjoyed, by everyone but having a few different options that makes everyone happy can really make a big difference. Include all members of your family, especially the kids, so that everyone feels like they contributed and some sense of control in the trip. These different activities can also be used as a reward system to reinforce good behavior while traveling.
If you plan to fly for your family trip and it’s the first time for your child will experience an airport and flying, it can be helpful to explain some things that your child may experience. While flying can be exciting for some kids, it may be terrifying for others, which is why it is important to prepare them for what to expect. Even if your kids are a little older, it doesn’t hurt to do a quick run through of the security and boarding procedure. And don’t forget to talk about what to do should you get split up in the airport. Have your kids take a carry-on backpack which includes a copy of the itinerary and your contact information so that even your youngest child can get reconnected with you should you be seperated.
Having a “hangry” (hungry + angry) child, or any traveling companion at that, can really put a damper on your trip. Packing portable snacks can help stave off hunger and keep everyone calm. Kids can also be pickier eaters than their adult counterparts so having something familiar for them to eat when other options are not so familiar can reduce both their anxiety and yours. Try to pack healthy snacks like vegetables, fruits, and low-sugar beverages. Traveling will limit meal options, especially for kids, so having alternatives ready can help simplify things in times of need.
Keep the Kids Occupied
Whether it’s during a long car ride or wait in the airport, kids will get bored. Consider bringing along some portable entertainment that won’t necessarily bog you down with weight nor drive you crazy due to noise. A tablet or portable gaming console are great options to keep the kids entertained for long periods of time with the added benefit of a headphone jack so you don’t have to listen to whichever noisy game they may choose to play. If you want to keep things, encourage your kids to bring a book or two to indulge in across the miles or suggest some road trip activities that like keeping track of all of the different state license plates they see.
Kids are as capable as their parents allow them to be, so why not assign them some titled jobs so that they feel like they are contributing and being adult-like (with parental supervision as needed, of course). There are many little “jobs” that can be done while traveling such as navigator, time checker, or bag checker. Traveling and keeping track of all the details can be hectic enough so giving your kids some responsibility will not only occupy them but also make them feel that independence and can help you out along the way.