Let’s face it, traveling with kids is way different than traveling without them. You can’t send little Sarah to the pool bar to bring you back a mojito or just trust that everyone will feed themselves when they’re hungry so they don’t meltdown. But with a few simple tweaks and a little prep ahead of time, traveling with kids can be just as fun and pretty rewarding too.
1.Pack snacks and drinks for the journey to keep hungry little ones happy.
I can’t stress how big a role hunger, blood sugar and thirst will wreak havoc on a trip, and that goes for adults too. Especially if you’re on a warm weather trip, be sure to be drinking plenty of water and reminding your kids to, too. This can help prevent meltdowns, but more importantly, help avoid heat stroke, constipation and just feeling unwell. Eat before you think you need to. Keep a couple granola bars on hand and pull them out once you realize people are starting to get hungry but you’ll still have to wait in line, order and find seating before you can have a meal.
2. Create a flexible itinerary to accommodate for unexpected delays or tantrums.
If you’re new to traveling with kids, you might not reali tzehat something will go wrong. It’s ok, it doesn’t have to be perfect. But working in some open time so you aren’t stressed and late because someone had an accident or Mikey tripped and fell and needs a bandaid, will save you some stress.
3. Bring a first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, medication, and antiseptic wipes.
Speaking of falling and needing a bandaid, don’t forget to pack some emergency meds too. This is not usually a big deal because most places sell these items, but it can save some time and money to pack some children’s ibuprofen and benadryl because who knows what you’ll need.
4. Capture the memories with a family photo at each destination.
And damnit, you better get yourself in the photo!! Figure out the self timer button (super simple tutorial for iPhones) and prop that sucker on a ledge or your backpack or the car. Get in the photo!
5. Use child-friendly travel apps or games to keep kids entertained during long flights or car rides.
Whether you’re for or against screen time, flights and car rides is not the time to hold back. Other activities are fine, but if screens are what gets you through this boring part of the trip, so be it. You don’t need permission but you have it.
6. Research family-friendly accommodations with amenities like pools or playgrounds.
Travel means kids are cooped up when they’d usually be moving. And don’t forget you let them veg on the ipad for 3 hours (jeez, what kind of mother are you?). Booking a place with a playground will help them get their energy out and give you a chance to catch your breath on the bench after planning, packing, navigating, copiloting and basically momming the whole drive.
7. Have a backup plan for lost or misplaced items, like extra clothes or copies of important documents.
I always make a copy of our passports and have one in my backpack and one at home. This way, if worst comes to worst, I can call the dog walker that has no idea what she’s gotten herself into, and have her send them to me. Up to you if you want pictures of those documents on your phone (i.e. your phone is stolen). Keeping photos of documents on a password protected cloud is a safer alternative.
8. Encourage kids to journal or draw about their travel experiences for a fun keepsake.
This one can be a little homeschooly and may annoy your children but it’s so worth it! Seeing their writing and pictures evolve over the years is so fun to look back on. Think about getting a thin travel journal that everyone can write/draw it and you take it on all your adventures!
9. Take breaks and prioritize rest to avoid overtired meltdowns.
I know I harp on this a lot, but rest is not unproductive and you’ll likely have a better trip if you have down time.
10.Be open to new experiences and create cherished memories together as a family.
Things don’t always go to plan but that doesn’t mean that whatever ended up happening instead can’t be a great memory. Yes, you have plans to be at the mini golf place, but if your 4 year old is amazed by the horseshoe crab shell he found, get down in the sand with him and explore together.
There you have it! Ten quick tips to having a better trip with your kids. What do you think? What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!