Traveling with children is quite the adventure. We have three. I know! It can be stressful. It is well worth it, though. Whether you are doing a short trip to Grandma’s house, or making a cross country trip for the vacation of a lifetime, we all face challenges traveling with kids. Believe it, or not, you CAN make the trip without losing your mind! Just follow these tips for traveling with kids, and you’ll make memories with your sanity intact.
Tips for Traveling with Kids (Without Losing Your Mind)
1. Take care of basic needs.
The most important thing to take care of is your child’s basic needs. These are food, drink, potty, and stretching. Leaving for your road trip in the morning is a smart move. The kids have just woken up and feel rested and refreshed. Keep in mind that the last thing you might want to feed your kids is something incredibly sugary. Try grabbing something healthy for the kids (and parents) to eat before the caravan leaves. If you plan well, you can minimize stops and cut down on the amount of time you spend at each stop. Packing snacks on the go will mean you need containers that keep the snacks in them, rather than all over the floorboard. We love these!
When you stop for gas,
make let the kids out of the car to go to the bathroom. Try to take a little walk to stretch the legs. Use a freezable cooler, like the ones from PackIt, to pack snacks and drinks for them for while you are traveling. We have the original freezable lunch bag size, as well as the freezable picnic bag size, and love that ice packs are built into the cooler, and the whole bag goes straight into the freezer. Use rest areas where you can stop to have a little picnic, use the bathrooms, and let them run around (having races is a good way to get them using up some of their endless supply of energy).
2. Always Pack a Thermometer
Speaking of basic needs…. I’ve learned, albeit the hard way, that packing a thermometer for traveling is a must. Inevitably at some point on a family trip, one of my kids is going to complain of not feeling well. Being away from home, and out of their element, can throw their little systems off track. Being able to determine whether their complaints stem from a real illness or just a change in their pace goes a long way toward
We use the Exergen TemporalScanner™ Thermometer. We have several. We keep one in our travel gear, one in our camping gear, and one in our wellness basket. I love it because I can quietly check their temperature in the dark or when they’re sleeping and not disturb them.
***Please note- I’ve reviewed Exergen thermometers in the past and have received them in consideration of coverage, but my continued use and opinion are all my own.***
Plan where everyone is sitting before you get in the vehicle and start moving. If you have a bunch of little ones, you do not want to make it to where you cannot reach them. Pairing an older child beside a smaller child makes it easier to have someone available to comfort the child. It’s also nice to be able to pass food and drink items around without stopping every twenty minutes. You might even find it easier to have an adult sit in the back with the children, to make comfort and caretaking a little easier. Bending backwards probably isn’t your best super power.
4. Keep them entertained!
Try listening to a new book on audio, making sure it has a great narrator before you pull out of the drive. Kids love stories and they are an excellent way to pass the time on a car ride.Games are another excellent way to keep your little ones entertained. You can play things like I Spy, the License Plate Game, or I am going on a trip. Games will be very interactive and keep your children occupied for quite a while.
Purple Cow Magnetic Games are perfect for car rides. Since the pieces are magnetic, they won’t end up all over the floorboard… hopefully.
5. Know your kids travel tolerance.
Hopping in the car one day and deciding you’re going to drive cross country might not be the best move, if you are not sure how your kids travel. If you still need to stop frequently, being in a car for 48 hours in a row might not be the best fit. Know how far your kids can handle being in a car. How can you do this? Work up their tolerance for being in a car to see how they do. Try going on a five hour trip first, the next time you can make the next trip a little longer. This is just an example, but not every child can handle being in a vehicle for an extended period of time. Know your children and what they can handle. Trust me; this will make your entire trip a lot smoother. Of course there is always unpredictability with kids, just do the best you can.Bring a few toys.
6. Bring a few toys.
Bringing 1-2 favorite toys with you is a smart move when traveling with kids. Especially if the kids are older, they can keep track of their own toy in the car. It’s best to avoid bringing a ton of toys with you for a couple of reasons. #1—You don’t want lots objects flying around the vehicle. #2. – The last thing you want is a frustrated kid because they want a change of toys while driving. Just keep it simple and things will most likely go a lot smoother. Make sure the toys don’t have a bajillion pieces. Consider small toys, like a magna doodle or lacing beads, that can hold their attention for a long time.
7. Drive while they sleep!
Take advantage of nap times whenever possible to get as much trip time done while they are asleep. Some people like to drive at night while their children asleep. Keep them comfy, so they can rest! Kids love Critter Piller Neck Pillows!
This sounds like an awesome idea, but the issue is that when you arrive you will be exhausted and the kids will be well rested not a good combination.
8. Bring their comfort item.
Having a familiar blanket, stuffed animal, or pillow can help on the car ride, but is also very useful when staying overnight. Havie a lovie to provide comfort goes a LONG way toward wail-free travel.
The familiar item will comfort them on long journey and will remind them of home when going to sleep at night some place unfamiliar.
9. Go to the pool!
When staying in a hotel look for one that has a pool that the kids can enjoy. This can help to get some of the energy out. It will help relax everyone and allow the kids some time to have fun.
10. Make it interesting.
Plan stops at fun and unique places along the way. This can break trips up, but it can also lessen the burden on the kids as they will have something to look forward to.
11. Stick to routines when possible.
Kids like routines. Try to keep their routine as close to normal as possible. If they eat lunch at 11:30 try to stop for lunch at 11:30. This will help make the trip easier on the kids.
12. Give them space.
Don’t push your kids into talking to new people. Give them a chance to warm up to them. They will feel more comfortable and the time spent will be well worth it.
You are on vacation, after all. Sometimes parents cause kids to be uneasy during travel. Staying calm will also help keep your kids calm. They are probably going to scream, yell, squirm, and drive you crazy. Try to stay as peaceful as possible and you might be surprised at their reactions. Of course, you can’t be perfect at all times, but this is a good start.
You know traveling with kids doesn’t have to be stressful. These tips can help you enjoy your next trip with kids, whether you are traveling over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house, or road tripping from the east coast to the west coast.
Keeping the kids stuff together while you’re gone doesn’t have to be hard, either. Get each child their own cute travel bag. And if you’re going to be visiting at length, consider getting them their own cot. We take our daughter’s cot everywhere, and it gives her comfort knowing her travel bed comes with us wherever we go.
Traveling with kids does take a bit more preparation, but the memories last a lifetime and are SO SO worth it! These tips for traveling with kids will help you make the most of your vacation!