Sponsored Post: Special thanks to Cars.com for sponsoring today’s message. As always, thoughts and opinions are all our own.
Traveling with children can be the best thing ever, or a nightmare, depending on the preparation beforehand. Children tend to be naturally inquisitive and love going new places and exploring. Try a few of these tips to keep your vacation running smoothly:
The number one tip for travel is to get your children used to it. Start traveling when they are toddlers (or even younger). Let them get used to sleeping somewhere other than their own bed and familiar with other types of travel. Take them on a short train ride, to an airport to see the planes land close up, and so on. If you are going camping, plan an overnight trip to see how your children respond. There is nothing worse than going on a week-long cruise and discovering that your child is afraid of their surroundings, and won’t leave your side. Let your kids become accustomed to traveling.
If you traveled without kids in the past, understand that the pace will be slower now. Children are interested in everything, from the sights you see to the cat that lives at your hotel. They want to take it all in, and that takes time. Know upfront that you’re not going to be able to pack as much into your day.
Include your children in the planning stages. Allow them to make limited choices – ‘Would you like to go to the beach or the aquarium?’ Majority rules, but make sure everybody gets to plan some of the time.
If there is more than one adult in the group, consider splitting up into smaller groups for some activities. Sometimes kids feel lost in a larger group, and this way it’s easier to provide a little individual attention. The older kids may want to go zip lining, and the younger ones can go on a hayride.
Have non-messy activities and games for the kids to do while riding to the destination. Avoid crayons, as they melt in the heat and roll off trays. Consider colored pencils or washable markers instead. Add some small games, a deck of cards, and brush up on some of the great car games like I Spy, and Travel Bingo. Make a game of spotting license plates from other states. These are plenty of ideas out there that will appeal to most everyone. Despite your best efforts, things do tend to get cluttered when traveling with children. Check out these tips to manage a messy car.
Plan on purchasing souvenirs from each location you visit. Trip mementos can become an expensive part of your budget; let each child know how much they have to spend in advance, and hold them to it. One good idea is to allow each child to pick out a postcard from each locale, and when you get home they can make a small journal or scrapbook of your trip.
Let children pack their own bags, within reason. Make a list of what they will need to bring, and let them choose what they want to wear. Once they have chosen, edit their choices and reduce the quantity. Place each day’s clothing, including socks, underwear and hair accessories in a zip lock bag. This will make mornings easy – your child just needs to grab a bag and get ready. Save the bags – they are great for putting the really dirty or wet clothing into after it’s been worn.
Arrive early at airports, train stations, and museums. Remember that children aren’t just interested in getting from here to there, but want to see everything in between. Arrive so you have a few minutes to take in the surrounding, make a plan, and relax. Kids will always find something that interests them, no matter where you are.
Finally, remember that vacations and travel are supposed to be enjoyable. Don’t stress if you miss a planned stop, try to have another option of something to do. Maybe it’s just exploring the local neighborhood, letting kids play catch in a parking lot, or just chilling in a hotel room. Sometimes a nap does everyone wonders. It’s all good, and what your kids will remember is not that you missed going somewhere, but that you had a good time.