It’s Summer! Tips for Traveling with Kids
Summer often means family vacation time. A time to relax, become closer, have new experiences. If you are traveling with kids, it can also mean meltdowns, tantrums, exhaustion, and endless refrains of “I’m bored!”. With a little planning in advance, you can insure that these are kept to a minimum.
Kids needs change based on their ages. While traveling with kids, what works for a toddler, won’t work for a teenager. A baby needs to keep as close to their schedule as possible. A teenager will revel in being allowed to stay up later, explore on their own or being allowed to eat pizza three times a day. Here are a few suggestions so that everybody keeps their cool.
Babies may be the easiest to travel with. As long as they are with you, they don’t care much where they are. Make sure to pack bottles and baby food. Have enough diapers available for a day or two, but don’t pack enough for the whole trip. Diapers are easy to buy once you get to your destination, and it will save you space. Pack plenty of baby wipes.
Of course, if you are traveling in by car, you need a car seat. If traveling by air, check with your airline. It may mean buying an extra seat, but it could be worth it. If you don’t want to purchase an extra seat, you can check a car seat as luggage. Umbrella strollers are a great to have along no matter where you go. They are lightweight, don’t take up much space, can be checked at the gate, and provide a place for your baby to nap while you see the sights.
Allow for extra time to get anywhere. Toddlers are notorious for dawdling. Allow for the I want to see the planes, I have to potty, oh – look at that pretty stone, detours. If you are rushed, everyone ends up losing their cool.
Have plenty of distractions on hand. Whether flying or driving, books, small toys and kid friendly app’s on your devices can be lifesavers. Don’t forget to pack the favorite blankie or stuffed animal. Have plenty of kid friendly snacks and treats.
As with babies, think about the car seat and stroller. Little legs get tired out quickly and a stroller is a good way to make sure you don’t get tired out by lugging that extra 25 pounds of squirmy love around.
Involve school age kids in the planning and packing. Talk to them about where you are going and let them pick a couple things to do. Check out some family travel websites such as Travelbaboo.com, TripAdvisor.com or Familyvacationcritic.com for ideas. Give them a couple of choices.
Get them a small backpack and help them pack it. Make sure they don’t pack it too heavy, because at some point you’ll probably end up carrying it along with your own stuff.
Pack some distractions like travel games and books. In transit, let them spend a little more time on electronics than you normally would.
It seems like teenagers spend a lot of time with their face in screens. You don’t want to have all your vacation photos with your teens face in their phone, so give them jobs to do. Let them read the maps and tell you how to get to the museum. Have them research and pick some of the activities.
Teens like to be independent. Let them be, to the extent that you feel safe. Allow them to explore a bit on their own. If you can, get them adjoining rooms if you are staying in a hotel, or their own room if staying in a house.
Consider getting your teen a real camera. It takes away the excuse that they need to have their phone to take pictures.
With a little pre-planning, family vacations can create closer relationships, and memories that you’ll cherish forever.