Summertime is fast approaching, and that means vacation! It’s nice to look forward to a break, especially when you have kids.
But that variable is also what makes travel difficult – kids.
Here is a list I’ve culminated over 8 years of traveling with children:
1. Pack lightly – A big mistake I used to make early on is packing like tomorrow was the end. Make sure to pack things you specifically need like medication, training pants, favorite toys, etc. Otherwise you can always buy stuff at airports, at rest stops, etc.
2. Backpacks are a lifesaver – After years of hauling around diaper bags, I bought a backpack and it changed the way I travel. No more falling off the shoulder bags, aching arms, or tipping strollers.
3. Stock up on candy/sweets – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prevented a potential tantrum by just whipping out a lollipop or bag of fruit snacks. I save these treats for travel time, and that just makes it all the more sweeter.
4. Dress kids in clothes you don’t mind tossing – While I’m not a fan of just throwing away perfectly good things, I certainly don’t want to hang on to a pair of pants covered in vomit. Things happen during travel, and it’s one less thing to worry about when you can just toss a shirt or pair of pants. Diarrhea happens. Vomit happens. Leaks happen. Sometimes they happen together. I keep things they are about to outgrow, little faded, maybe has a tiny, itty bitty hole – basically stuff I can’t pass on to anyone.
5. Purchase a few new things for the trip – A coloring book, a small toy, a puzzle. Kids love being surprised with something new while traveling.
6. Let kids have their own luggage – Now my husband is not a big fan of this because he’s had to lug around 2 kids suitcases because our girls were tired, but on the whole they were a good buy. Kids love copying parents with their own personal things. And they enjoy rolling them around – makes them feel important. Plus I pack a change of clothes, underwear, snacks and toys in each kid’s suitcase so I end up carrying less, too.
I personally am a big fan of the Skiphop Zoo rolling suitcases. They’re roomy, light, and have a convenient strap on the back that I can swing over my shoulder or a stroller handle if my kids get tired. Plus if you search around, you can often get them for less than $25.
7. Be flexible – When you have too many expectations, it ruins your trip. Layovers happen. Delays happen. Make room for flexibility. Plan your layovers/rest stops wisely. Let kids run around. Keep a few portable food items so just in case they get picky, at least they’ll eat something. I often make a batch of French toast to keep in my bag. Pack a few juice or milk boxes. The last thing you need is a cranky, sleep deprived, hungry kid.
8. Don’t forget the wipes – Perhaps one of the most essential items to pack when traveling. They can clean hands, refresh your face, wipe gunk from clothes.
9. Invest in a DVD player/tablet/electronic kids toy – And don’t forget the headphones. When all else fails, these things help divert children from going over the edge. Remember to break it out ONLY when you need it. Otherwise it loses its “new” factor.
10. Remember to rest – If you’re like most parents, you forget to take care of yourself. Get a good night’s sleep before the day of travel. That way if you’re on the road, you’re able to focus. And if you’re flying, you don’t get cranky or frustrated.
Most importantly, remember to have fun!