by Melissa Uhles
Spring Break travel with kids can be fun. Okay, I’ll be honest, it can provide moments of fun. I’m sure you already know that there is bound to be a little chaos and stress associated with vacationing with little kids.
That said, proper preparation will make the whole ordeal much easier. Do you have a baby, toddler, grade-schooler or all three? The following tips should make your trip more enjoyable for everyone.
One year we flew to Arizona and needed to keep our toddler happy for two hours at the airport, two hours in the air and three hours in the car once we landed. I packed a backpack full of secret dollar store surprises that he’d never seen before. He was thrilled!
Snacks are a no-brainer. Variety is key. Squeezable applesauce, cheese crackers, flavored rice cakes, graham crackers, nuts, apples, dried cranberries and cuties make good on-the-go snacks.
Diapers, formula, extra pants, underwear and socks are essential with kids or babies in tow. Sunscreen and swim trunks are also important to remember. Most hotels will have pools which are usually the highlight of the trip for kids.
If you are on a road trip, stop often to stretch everyone’s legs. The kids/babies will need potty breaks and diaper changes. If you end up at a gas station, give everyone $1 for a special trip-only kind of snack or drink.
For example, when we drove ten hours to Napa, CA we broke it up over two days. This allowed for plenty of pit stops and still got us to our hotel at a reasonable hour.
Regardless of your mode of travel, entertainment will make kids and adults much happier.
If you need to go low-tech, Magna Doodles or activity books help pass the time as well. Mad Libs are fun for older kids. Some little ones will even read books if they don’t have motion sickness issues.
Tried and true games like “I Spy” or “Celebrity” or simply singing songs on a road trip can also help pass the time.
In all honesty, these low tech solutions may only keep things easy for a short period of time. But a tablet or smartphone that plays movies or games is a marvelous pacifier. My son loves to play Angry Birds.
Save screen guilt for another time, everyone is on vacation. I’m never more grateful for technology than when we travel. I do try to get my son to look out the window and chat about the scenery, but around hour three, everyone’s happy to break out the tablet.
Some kids have a hard time with a change in their routine. If it is at all possible to plan your trip to ensure that naps and regular bedtimes are maintained, it will make all the difference.
I’m a mom with one of those kids who had sleep issues and needed routine. He’d be up at 5AM even if he didn’t go to sleep until midnight, which was a nightmare. So I’ve always tried my best to arrange flights and travel time in a way that assures he could go to bed close to his normal time between 7-8PM.
If your destination if full of tourist attractions, pace yourself. If it’s your first trip to Disneyland, for example, one day at the park followed by a lazy day at the beach will help prevent meltdowns. When we did this, the beach day was as much or more for me than for my kiddo. I needed to chill after a day at a crowded theme park.
The good news is, travel makes you so appreciative of your home and routines. Having survived always feels like a triumph and it will leave an indelible imprint in your children’s memories in the future. And you get credit for being an awesome mom and dad for pulling it all off.
So my hope for you, is that whatever the destination, you and your kids will enjoy the journey at least a little bit.
What are your trip tips with kids? Feel free to share with us in the comments.
Are you loading up your ereader with things to read while you are in the car or on the plane? Check out our ebook How to Make a Living as a Writer. If you’d rather sink into a romance or a love story, check out our fiction titles.