It's family vacation time and while it's great to get away and have a wonderful time together, these trips can also be a nightmare for adults when children become restless and bored.
Kids see the world more different than adults and will often have various reactions to the sites and sounds around them. If you are traveling by plane or car, you will especially want to keep your children preoccupied to prevent them from acting up.
Here are some ways to ensure your family vacation travel goes smoothly.
Plan your trip ahead of time the old "get in the car and let's go" may be great for people without children, but taking your kids on a long trip requires more organization and planning. Children need to get out of the car to stretch their limbs and let out all that cooped up energy.
When taking a car trip, you'll need to map out a route where there are plenty of rest stops along the way. I recommend Roadtrippers, which is a great resource to use if you are unsure and are looking for more guides and information.
Embrace The Breaks
It's safe to expect frequent bathroom breaks and lots of questions while traveling. "I've gotta go to the bathroom and are we there yet?" are classic things that you will hear your kids say over and over again. Instead of being annoyed or distracted, know ahead of time that this is going to be a normal part of the trip, so don't take it out on the kids. Remember, they have smaller bladders than adults and shorter attention spans. Embrace the experience. Make it a moment.
You could have a comeback line like: "No, we're not there yet, but here's something I bet you don't know about . . ." This completely reframes there attention and can give you a lot more time.
How About Entertainment?
Bringing along some entertainment is a great travel tip for child fun; it's almost a no-brainer to keep them engaged. There is never enough conversation or new information to interest your partner or your child. Bring along some travel games that will keep your kids preoccupied for long stretches of time. Make sure to bring a variety of games since kids get bored easily with a single game. Something that challenges their mind is excellent. Portable video games are a natural for the younger crowd, however, I don't suggest relying heavily on them too much. You want your child engaged, not doing something they already do at home.
Bring Along Help
Sometimes, you may need to bring help. A traditional family vacation doesn't ask for more than a parent, however, today's societies are made up of more extended family and travel is a lot more costly. So, it doesn't matter if you're a single parent or a couple, how can you sneak away for a moment?
Bring along another family member or close friend to come along - someone who can be responsible for the kids while you take a moment for yourselves. Make sure it's someone the kids know and feel comfortable being around in your absence. The point of traveling is a vacation and receiving a much-need break - this includes every little moment you can steal away with your partner or for yourself.
It's tempting to try and pack your schedule with a full day of activities immediately. However, allow yourself to catch up to your new location and take it easy on accomplishing the activities you've outlined for your destination. The problem with trying to do everything all together is that your young children will get tired out and become cranky or restless. You want your kids to be able to enjoy the experience and have good memories, which they can't do if they are worn out.
Older children may not wish to do everything that you want to do. Teenagers will close up and want to venture on their own so try and give them some time and space to do their own thing. Remember, this vacation is for them to get away from it all and have some fun too.
Maintain Your Daily Schedule... If possible
Keep younger children on a regular sleep schedule. Children will naturally want to stay up later while on vacation, but remember that they may get cranky the following day if they don't get enough sleep; this can impact the trip. You'll want to let them stay up maybe an hour or so after their normal bedtime, but then let them know it's time to hit the sack.
Most Importantly... Plenty of Snacks!!!
Bring snacks! Make sure to pack plenty of healthy snacks so you can dole them out along the way when the kids say they're hungry. This gives you more control over what they eat during the trip, then say, stopping at a gas station and grabbing a greasy hot dog and sugary soda (which is what they'll want!)
You could bring along your own granola snack bags with raisins, nuts, dried fruit, etc. Also, juice boxes are perfect for long trips. If you like to bake, then homemade cookies and brownies are always appreciated. And that old staple, the pack and go sandwich is still a winner.
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Cheers and see you outdoors!