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You are about to embark on a summer adventure with your family, kids in tow. Planning ahead and being prepared for the unexpected is always a smart idea when it comes to traveling with little ones. Most likely the first thing at the top of your travel plans list is to pack, am I right? And don’t forget the sunscreen! Here are some helpful suggestions on other things to consider when traveling with young kids.
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Your bags are packed, the itinerary set, and you’re ready to load up the little ones and be on your way for some exciting summer travel! One of the most helpful things when traveling with young kids is to start out a little before bedtime. Driving through the night will allow you to travel further with fewer stops during the first leg of your journey as the children will be dreaming sweet dreams of the adventures ahead. If your travels aren’t taking you farther than a single night of driving requires, even better! Just be sure that you are well-rested when you start out and have a plan in place for arrival as the kiddos will be ready to explore no matter how tired mom and dad are from driving for this summer fun trip!
If traveling overnight is not an option, be sure that each child has his or her favorite snuggle buddy and a mess-free activity to entertain them during the drive. If your little ones are in the infant to toddler age range, this could be anything from a toy telephone that plays songs to a touch and feel book. There are even toy “steering wheels” for toddlers that make honking noises, have “blinkers”, and a gearshift – everything needed to let them “help drive” to their vacation! If you have older kids, travel bingo is always a favorite as it keeps the kids occupied looking out the windows trying to beat each other in covering those squares. There are many versions of this ranging from license plates of cars that you pass to landmarks, even fast food sign bingo! Of course, the older kids might also have some type of portable game system or electronic device they prefer to entertain them. If this is the case, be sure everyone has fully charged devices and headphones for the drive.
Don’t forget the snacks! Keeping a box or bag of snacks and drinks is not only a great time saver, but it is also going to help any of your littles from getting “hangry” and throwing temper tantrums or squabbling with their siblings. Depending on the ages of your kids, snacks can range from fruit and crackers to toddler munchies as sold in stores. Even having some sweets in the snack bin is a good idea especially if your littles are used to getting something sweet during the day. Often, making snack and drink distributions about 30 minutes to an hour before you plan on making a stop to stretch everyone’s legs works well. This way, you aren’t back on the road for only five minutes before you hear the infamous, “I need to go potty!” exclamation from the back seat.
Air Travel Must Dos
If your family is flying to your summer vacation destination, one thing to consider is the “ear-popping” caused by the change in altitude. While for adults, teens, and older children this is often easily fixed by popping in a stick of chewing gum. Babies and toddlers however are not as easily treated for this discomfort. While not every person suffers from this discomfort if you have never flown with your littles before it is something you want to be prepared for! Having a bottle, sippy cup, pacifier (whichever is age-appropriate for your child) handy is essential. The motion of the jaw will be similar to that of an older child or adult chewing gum and therefore should help alleviate the discomfort they are experiencing. Having their favorite comfort items in your carry-on will also help to distract them from their discomfort. Things such as books, mostly quiet toys, their favorite cuddle item, and so forth will go a long way towards helping them be more comfortable in the new surroundings which they will be spending what will seem like a long time to them.
Bring Quiet Time Entertainment
One advantage to traveling by air is that you will not be stuck in the front while your kids are in seats behind you. (Depending on how many of you are traveling that is!) This means that you will be able to entertain your kids by playing games with them such as “peek-a-boo” or “I spy”. One great tip is to pack their favorite books in your carry-on to give them something to either entertain themselves with or if they are too young to read, will help you occupy your time as well while you read to them! This is a great way to provide “quiet time” entertainment. If your kids are old enough, you can pack Magna doodles or water boards so they can draw pictures or color. This means that their entertainment can not only keep them from getting bored and fussy, but also will help strengthen those parent-child bonds. For the children old enough to remember the travel portion of the trip, they will one day look back and appreciate the time spent interacting with them.
Regardless of the mode of travel, summer vacation time for families is meant for making memories. Whether your kids grow up with memories of games and laughter amongst themselves while mom and dad dole out drinks and snacks from the front seat, or drawing pictures and reading books on an airplane, they will be cherished memories. Stories they will write about when they have that infamous “write a paragraph about what you did this summer” assignment from their teacher when they return to school. Joyful times they will reminisce about with each other as they grow older and maybe even tell their children one day. While keeping young kids entertained during the travel portion of the vacation is a sanity saver for mom and dad, it is a memory maker for the whole family!