Taking trips with your family can be loads of fun. But between restless kids and a long car or plane ride, it can also be a test of patience. There’s no reason to be stressed before you even arrive at your destination. With the right preparation and planning, your travel time can be just as enjoyable and fun as the rest of the trip.
Involve Your Kids in the Planning
Your kids will be less fussy about traveling if they are looking forward to the destination. The best way to get them excited is to involve them in choosing the destination. This doesn’t mean letting them decide on anywhere they can think of. Provide them with three parent-approved options and let them make the final decision.
Sometimes, though, you already have the destination picked out. Maybe you’re heading out of state to visit another family or it’s somewhere you and your spouse have been wanting to go. In these instances, present your child with some fun activities they can do once you arrive. Giving your kids something to look forward to will help them cooperate during the trip. If you’re looking for family-friendly activities at your destination, look for family-oriented travel guides to point you in the right direction.
Depending on the age of your child, LifeHacker recommends using this planning time as a learning opportunity. You can teach them lessons on how to budget, how to account for travel time, or how to maintain a healthy routine away from home. Or use these moments to teach them about the destination itself.
When you have young kids, packing should not be left to the last minute. Your Modern Family recommends laying out an outfit for each day a week in advance before you leave. This will save you the last-minute stress of running around trying to get everything together. Pack it all up the day before then grab last minute items like pillows and stuffed animals the day of.
Some parents recommend placing each day’s outfit in a one-gallon Ziploc bag. This not only allows you to easily see that you have enough outfits, but it also helps everything in one place. The bags can later double as a laundry bag for dirty clothes. If you have a baby or toddler, it is a smart idea to pack an extra set of clothes in an easily accessible place in case there are any accidents.
Keep Them Entertained
On long trips, kids are known to become restless. You’ll need to choose your travel toys wisely. Whether you are going by plane or by car, there is only so much you can bring. Load up your iPad or tablet with plenty of games and videos. Creating a road trip scavenger hunt or playing license plate bingo is another great way to distract them too.
If there is an age discrepancy between your kids, consider purchasing the older one some child-friendly headphones. This way, if their younger sibling starts to cry or act out, they have an easy escape and you only have to deal with one upset child at a time.
Pack in the Snacks
Snacks are a necessary component of any trip, but even more so with kids. Parents Magazine says if you have to choose between the two, overpack snacks and underpack toys. Kids are at their crankiest when they don’t have enough familiar foods to eat.
While it’s tempting to stock up on junk food for a long trip, you run the risk of getting everyone a sugar high while being stuck in a small space. Instead, pack a variety of healthy foods to keep your family happy. Classic PB&Js, crackers, veggies with hummus, wrap sandwiches, and protein boxes are great options to pack into your cooler.
Hit the Road
There’s no reason the journey to your destination can’t be as enjoyable as the trip itself. Of course, no family trip is complete without a few unexpected road bumps, but the right planning and preparation can make it so much smoother. It’s time to hit the road.
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