Travel at night
This tip can be found on every list of tips for travelling with kids. If it is at all possible, travel at night so your kids can sleep and wake up at the destination in the new timezone.
Give your child a camera
Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view. Amongst pictures of feet and wheels, my three-year-old has shot flowers, animals, helicopters, boats and rocks.
Prepare for the climate
It’s simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain will be happier in a new environment. With all the gear that is available, there’s no excuse for dressing toddlers in ski-suits four sizes too big or forgetting their gloves.
Remember the medicine and baby wipes
You probably already know this, but having a small first aid kit when travelling with kids becomes essential: plasters, antihistamines and sachets of painkilling syrup can save a lot of stress later on. Antimalarials are also available in liquid form.
Even if all your children are long out of nappies, don’t forget the baby wipes. They’re useful for washing hands, spot cleaning clothing and wiping down restaurant tables. In the same spirit, little bottles of hand cleanser can be a lifesaver on some holidays.
Check your passports
Children’s passports only last five years and they have a habit of running out when you least expect it. Allow at least four weeks to renew one. The cost of a last-minute passport is astronomical, and particularly stressful if you only realise it’s necessary when you arrive at the airport. Don’t ask us how we know this. We just do.
Read more on Rough Guide
Lower your expectations
Far and above, the most popular piece of advice is, “lower your expectations.” This doesn’t mean you should expect the worst. On the contrary, it just means you can’t get too worked up if your schedule gets thrown off by traffic, a carsick kid, a missed turn, or the thirty-seventh potty break.
Don’t just focus on the destination, remember, “everything will be okay when we get to Disney/the next hotel/Grandma’s”. The road trip itself is part of the adventure, and dealing with the random things that come up is part of that. Family holidays are a great exercise in just rolling with it. Remember that your kids learn how to react to obstacles from you: if you’re calm and collected in the face of challenges, they will be too.
Slow down and enjoy the ride
The best piece of advice from experienced road tripping parents is to simply slow down and enjoy the ride. Don’t hesitate to stop at quirky roadside attractions (world’s largest ball of string? yes, please!) and local places to eat. Sure, you could do 13 hours of driving in one day, but it’s not going to be fun for anyone. Break up your trip into manageable distances so that you’re able to see things along the way besides highway and more highway. Do at least one picnic lunch along the way. It’s a great way to break up the trip and create a memory.
Read more on Babble.com
Send yourself postcards
How great is this idea? While on a trip, get the kids to send home a postcard every day from wherever you are and write about what they saw and experienced. When you get home, bind them together or stick them in clear plastic sheets in a scrapbook for a lovely record of your trip complete with photos, stamps, and a run-down of each day’s events.
Activities and snacks
Pack a bag full of activities and snacks your kids can pull out during the journey. You can decide what activities suit each child, but some ideas from the Stuck on You Facebook Mums include: colouring pencils, crayons and markers, sketchbook or notebook, activity book and colouring book, playing cards, books, a few new toys and games, felt board and felt pieces, stickers, audio books, magnetic travel games, binoculars for road trips, iPod or iPad with educational apps and games.
A common tip shared by Stuck on You Mums was – no sugar! Some snacks to keep them busy: Popcorn, dried fruit, cereal, puffed corn, puffed rice, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, nuts, rice crackers, muesli bars, granola, cheese cubes, carrot and celery sticks, buttered bread, tiny pikelets, snow peas, veggie chips, pretzels, corn chips, savoury crackers, banana chips and sandwiches cut into shapes.
- Free Printables: 20 Car Trip Games for Kids and Car Bingo. Get them laminated to use again and again.
- Wrap a few gifts for them to open such as a new book, a small box of lego, a puzzle, keyrings, playing cards and give them one an hour or when boredom strikes.
- Pack balloons if you are staying in a hotel. Keeping it off the ground is a fun, quiet activity to keep the kids busy if you get stuck inside. (Put hotel lamps in a cupboard for safekeeping until you leave).
- Keep tiny hands busy with snacks they create. Let them thread Cheerios, Fruit Loops or gummy Life Savers onto string before chowing down for snack time. Delish! Read more on Life is a Party
Share the packing
We once went on a trip with our eight-year-old, who complained incessantly that her backpack was too heavy. The reason why? She’d brought along her entire collection of fossils “just in case”. Do let the children have input but remember to edit this heavily before departure.
Let them run
Particularly if you are on a long journey, try to get your kids to exercise and run around whenever you can. If you are in the car, make frequent stops and research any playgrounds on your journey. If you are travelling by plane let them run in the airport before boarding and walk in the aisle when it is allowed. The more you can tire them out, the less wriggly and agitated they will be on the journey.
We’d love to hear your tips for travelling with kids? What would you add?