Admittedly, traveling with kids isn’t the most exciting thing you can do. There are moments when it’s perfect: the kids are behaving themselves, everyone is in a good mood, the jokes are flying in; you’re all on a roll. At other times, however, the opposite happens and a trip that started out well becomes a nightmare you never want to relive.
This happens to everyone who has kids, unless they purposefully set out to never travel with their kid. With a little creativity, you can make every trip with your young ones a little more bearable. Here are some of our best hacks for a pain-free, travel-with-kids adventure:
On the road
- Carry games
You need plenty of games to keep your babies busy and distracted from the monotony of the journey. Choose games that your kids love as these are likely to keep them engaged for much longer.
Leave the games they don’t like at home. You don’t want to agitate them more by forcing what the dislike down their throats.
- Keep them busy with activity
Pack coloring pens, crayons, drawing books and pencils, Legos, building blocks of all kinds – anything that your child loves to do. Obviously, these will differ depending on the age of the children. Have a few activities for every child in the car. The longer the trip is, the more activity ideas you need.
- Pack enough snacks
Your kids won’t have the patience to wait for the next stop at a diner to have some food. Having a variety of snacks in the car helps suppress those hunger pangs when they begin to surface. You know how irritable they get when hungry.
- Let them have a proper meal before the trip
Feed your kids a few hours before the trip so that they’re not starting the journey on an empty stomach. A two-hour period before the trip gives sufficient time to do bathroom-duty.
Still on bathroom duty, insist that everyone goes to the bathroom right before you begin your journey. You don’t want to be turning back 15 minutes later because someone suddenly ‘has to go.’ It’s also important to study your route well. Know how far apart restrooms are, in case you need to make several stops for older kids who may need to use the bathroom often.
- Pack plenty of wipes, diapers, extra clothes and hand sanitizer
If you have little babies with you, you need plenty of diapers, wet wipes and extra clothes for them. The last thing you want is to run out of diapers whilst in the middle of nowhere.
Wipes and sanitizers come in handy too whenever any of you needs to quickly clean their hands.
- Have lots of music
Carry lots of their favorite music and let everyone sing along as you drive. Do different voice imitations to make it even more fun.
- Load up games, cartoons, TV shows and movies on tablets and phones
No matter how many puzzles your kids solve and how many games they play, they will eventually get bored. If you’re lucky, this won’t happen until you’re on the last stretch of your journey.
When you know nothing else will work, give them the phones and PDAs and then sit back and enjoy the peace for a while. Kids of all ages love everything to do with smartphones, iPads, and computers. They can spend hours hooked on those devices, only calling out for a sip of water when thirsty and more snacks when they get hungry.
Alternatively, connect to the internet and let them watch something they enjoy online.
- Come up with impromptu games
Let the kids guess where you are, compete to spot different types of cars, etc. You can come up with all sort of quizzes to keep them thinking and engage their creativity.
- Use space and bag organizers
It’s one thing to remember to pack everything and quite another to find what you need when you need it. Don’t just throw in everything into the bags.
Use bag organizers to sort clothes, toys, and everything else you’re bring on the trip.
When flying with your little ones or going by bus or train, you’ll need pretty much everything you’ll carry on a car trip. The only challenge is that you don’t have the luxury of carrying as many items as you would in a car.
You also have to be mindful of your fellow passengers. While most people understand what a handful young children can be, not everyone welcomes their disruptions. Here are a few additional things to bear in mind:
- Replace your hand luggage with a backpack.
This leaves your hands to hold the kids’ hands and do whatever else requires your attention.
- Dress your children in comfortable clothes.
Avoid clothes that are too tight, and go for loose fitting, breathable fabrics. Make sure that the clothes are layered so you can remove and add them as needed.
- If booking your tickets online, try and pick tickets that allow you all to sit together.
When this is not possible, arrive at the airport/station early and see if the officials can move your seats. When kids are involved, most travelers won’t have a problem changing seats to allow you to sit together.
- Book your flight/trip timings to coincide with the child’s sleeping time.
Traveling at night naturally makes it easier as the child will most likely fall asleep quickly enough, but if this isn’t possible, a day trip around the time they get their daytime nap works just as fine.
With careful planning and attention to the little details of the journey, you can have a wonderful time traveling with your kids.
Every child is different and will behave in a different way when under the stress of a lengthy trip. Heck, the same child will behave differently on separate trips to the same destination. They can’t help it. You just have to arm yourself with everything you need for their comfort and prepare yourself mentally to survive that upcoming trip.