Did you know traveling with kids can actually be fun? Really, it can! However, many times it’s a nightmare. Why? Because during your vacation and holiday travels, your young kids are in cramped spaces for many hours. This not-so-fun situation leads to crying, fussing, whining, complaining and the most disturbing of sounds.Sigh.
Over our 14 years of marriage, my husband and I have traveled with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. We’ve traveled by plane and car. We’ve crossed oceans, borders and bridges. We’ve driven from SC to California — with six kids in tow. We’ve crossed land borders in Southeast Asia — by foot. We’ve flown 12 non-stop hours on a plane with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and tweens.Yep. We’ve had our share of travel stories.
Traveling with young kids is definitely a hurdle at times. But, with some plans and preparations, you can make traveling with kids fun, tolerable and even peaceful. And remember — most of the “fun power” is in your hands. You have to determine to keep an upbeat, care-free attitude when you have a flat tire only minutes away from your destination. You have to remain calm when there are diaper explosions or bouts of motion sickness along the way. For sure, those are not fun situations, but if you make the best of it, you can still have an awesome trip and vacation!
Check out my mom-to-mom tips below to help you enjoy your spring and summer vacations with a smile. Don’t forget! If you have any tips I didn’t mention below, share them with us on social media!
13 Ways to Make Traveling With Kids FUN!
- Ready favorite DVDs, shows and music. Have them lined up and ready to go along for the ride. Compare the hours of travel to the hours of entertainment. Decide how much time you want to allot for audio-visual entertainment. If you are flying, try contacting the airlines to see what types of in-flight entertainment they offer.
- Prepare back packs filled with surprise goodies. Goodies will keep the kids busy for hours. Put new books, coloring books, travel games and small toys in the “mystery bag”. Siblings will discuss their new surprises with each other.
- Bring favorite snacks. Look for snacks that are not messy. Chocolate, cakes, crackers and chips are very messy. Pudding cups, freshly chopped fruit and dried fruit are less messier options. Also, small sandwiches are a great idea too! Tortilla versions are fun and take up less space.
- Carry along any favorite comfort items from home. Special blankets, pillows or stuffed animals can offer your tiny travelers from comfort when traveling to unknown territory. Bringing familiar items from home will help them adjust to their new surroundings — even if it is only for a few days!
- Pack saline nose drops, sprays, gels or moisturizing nasal swabs if traveling by air. This will help prevent viruses, as the low humidity in the plane dries out the sticky mucus and compromises the ability to trap and eliminate those cold-causing germs. Coughs and colds are unwanted holiday guests.
- Be equipped with plan B, C, D, E and so on. Unexpected events do occur while traveling. Always plan for different scenarios with extra clothes, underwear, diapers etc. It’s always handy to carry liquid soap for any emergency clean-ups along the way!
- Keep infants comfortable. That means clean diapers, full bellies, quiet times and comfort items. If you’re infant drinks formula, here’s a handy tip if you forget the bottle warmer. Close all car air vents but one, crank up the heat and place the prepared formula directly in front of the one open vent. Feel free to put the windows down if things heat up a little too much. Within no time, your infant will be enjoying warm milk, and you will be relishing in the quiet gulps and sips. No more hungry, screaming baby! Obviously, I have warmed a few hundred bottles on the road — without a bottle warmer!
- Keep the car tidy. It doesn’t take long for our van’s floor to be scattered with cookie crumbs cracker crumbs, crayons and juice or water bottles. Keep extra trash bags handy for quick clean-ups when you stop for restroom breaks of need to fill up on fuel. Also, it’s super-handy to take a small carpet brush and dustpan to brush up any snack leftovers. If you want to give your car a fresh clean spritz of air-freshener, I love spraying my homemade fabric freshener in the car while everyone else is out of the car.
- Restock the first aid kit. Be sure to include kid-friendly band-aids. Winnie the Pooh band-aids work amazingly well to bring the smile back to your little one’s face.
- Challenge kids to color a picture for the family hosts. At the end of the trip, they can each present the hostess with a gift. Give the kids colored foam pieces and stickers to embellish their work.
- Reward each child (preferably with a prize) that does not complain, whine or fuss. Give verbal reminders that you are looking for “happy faces and happy voices.”
- Consider finger-knitting. For elementary aged children, pre-teens and teens, you can easily let them fingerknit for the trip. You only need yarn and fingers! Here are some easy to follow instructions to get your kids started.
- Pack Rainbow Looms. These are also great tools to keep the kids occupied! instead of wasting hours on end, kids can create something for themselves or others to wear and enjoy!
Above all these tips and plans, keep a smile on your face and lots of hugs in your arms. Enjoy your trip, relax and breathe in all the memories!
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