My family and I do a lot of traveling and along the way have accumulated some tried and true strategies that make traveling with children a pleasant and even an enjoyable adventure. Here are a few travel tips that our family swears by:
– Write a detailed list of everything each member will be taking with them. I find that putting this on top of the clothes just before shutting the suitcase makes them easier to keep up with. I tend to forget something when packing or repacking, but with this list it allows me to go through and mark off what I have already put in the suitcase and what still needs to go.
– Pack plenty of kid friendly snacks! I always put them in leftover babyfood containers to for individual sizing and it keeps me from having to use sandwich bags. As a rule, we try to stay away from salty snacks because they make us thirsty, which in turn makes for more stopping.
– On the subject of stopping: We have found our girls ride better when we are able to stop once an hour for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Children have a short attentions span and very small bladders. They also stand long car trips best with frequent breaks which include physical activity. We like to stop at the rest areas along the way and play tag, have mini races, or just go for a quick nature walk.
– If you’re worried about all the time you’ll be losing from those frequent stops, then you can always leave earlier. We are planning to leave at 4:30 am this time, so that the girls will sleep the first four hours or so. We will also miss most, if not all, rush hour traffic.
– Pack at least one extra outfit for each person! This has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. We tend to pack one extra outfit for the car ride and one for while we’re there. Of course for the baby we bring a couple more.
– Do your research! I cannot emphasize this enough! We always start our preparations for trips well in advance by comparing hotel rates, finding restaurants and activities. Then we go online and try to find better deals. To me this is the best part. I love to find deals! I am always on the look out for a good coupon or a great discount. One way to save some money is to call the hotel you will be staying at and ask for a better deal. What’s the worst they can say? No?
– Search the net for coupons to all the restaurants and activity venues you will be visiting. You can almost always find a good deal online. We bought $10 gift certificates to a local restaurant online at Restaurants.com for $3 each!
– Last, but certainly not least, bring plenty of car games. I suggest making a last minute stop at your favorite local discount store to pick up some small toys the kids have never seen before, this makes the toys seem more fun. We bought the Brain Quest card set for KG this time and we are really looking forward to giving them a try. We’re taking magnet “paper”dolls and a sheet pan to put them on, colorforms left over from Easter for the windows, coloring books, ColorWonder markers, and plenty of books. Another good investment for us, since we do so much traveling, was a portable DVD player. We bought this years ago and have always felt it was one of the better investments we have made. Our girls only get to watch it if we are going to be in the car for extended amounts of time and we keep special “car” movies for them to watch.
These are just a few of our more “weathered” tips. We know these work because we use them so often! I would love to hear what your great ideas for traveling with kids!!