School is out, summer is underway, and that family vacation you have been planning for months can’t get here soon enough. Whether you are flying across the continental U.S. or driving to the nearest beach, traveling with children is enough to earn you the relaxation you have planned ahead. While you can’t always avoid the bathroom breaks, hunger cries, and “are we there yets,” there are steps you can take to entertain the kids during what may seem like a never-ending ride. Traveling for years with my children, I have a few hacks up my sleeve with these essentials.
A hungry toddler is a force of nature that you don’t want to mess with. Mores o for a car ride than an airplane, packing a variety of snacks will go a long way. Be cautious of packing too many sugary snacks as this will only add to their energy and desire to get out of the car. Creative snacks that are fun to eat will make the children feel as if they are also playing a game at the same time. Essentially, food that can be “played with” to an extent without making a mess of your car could provide entertainment as well as a full stomach.
Sure, downloading some apps on an iPad and throwing that on their lap is easy enough, but you won’t start traditions or make memories this way. And once the battery dies, you could be left with a bored child and several hours left in your trip. Before the digital age, road trips were a time to play classics like ‘I spy,’ and the license plate game. On a plane, pen and paper games work great. Packing coloring books, word scrambles, and Mad Libs won’t take up much space and provides pages of entertainment for children of all ages. Encouraging your kids to keep a vacation journal is a fun way to document memorable moments during the ride, draw sights that they see, and provides the family with someone fun to look back on after the vacation is over.
Remembering to pack your children’s favorite toys is a great place to start. They will love the familiarity of home and know how to use the toy to keep entertained. Another thing that we have found successful is preparing for the vacation with a trip to the dollar store or a place to purchase less expensive toys. When the kids are getting bored or fussy, you can pull out a new toy for them. The entertainment of exploring the features of the new toy should occupy them for hours. If you happen to find a store that allows you to, I would suggesting getting a few new toys to use as replacements when the novelty of one wears off.
The travel involved with your family vacation is hardly the most memorable part, but in the moment, can be frustrating. Don’t let the stress of traveling with children discourage you from planning the trip of a lifetime and making memories with the ones you love the most!