Traveling with kids is a bit like opening up Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. After all, even the best kids can be moody and unpredictable, whiney and unruly. So the best thing that you can do is pack plenty of patience, be (at least mentally) prepared for anything and have a few tricks up your sleeves.
Although the patience and mental strength necessary for traveling with kids is something that only you can muster, the tricks and techniques used to smooth the inevitable bumps in the road have been well used and well documented. Just a few that this writer has found especially helpful include:
1) Book a family suite, or rent an apartment or house. That way, you’ll not only have a kitchen and (possibly) a washing machine and outdoor space, but bedrooms that are separate from the living space – just like at home.
2) Invest in over-the-ear headphones and always, ALWAYS, have music, games and/or DVDs available. This will not only keep your kids entertained during the journey, but give you a simple way to let your little one spend some “awake time” next to you when he or she inevitably wakes you up at 3 a.m. and announces that it’s time to face the day.
3) Give them cameras. Kids love to take pictures, document their day and the fun, weird or cool things they see – so give them rugged child-friendly cameras that let them do just that. At the end of the day, you can download everyone’s photos together and talk about what you saw. If you have a family blog, you can even write posts based on the images that you captured.
4) Pack new toys and books. Whether you’re in the car, on the train, at the airport or on the plane, if you can give your kids one or two new toys or books, or a new came cartridge or app to conquer, you can prevent some of the fussiness and whining that often comes when kids are asked to sit for very long.
5) Don’t change cities or accommodations too much. Many children crave consistency and sleep better when they know their surroundings, so try to choose a place that will be fun to explore and offers plenty of day trips. This way, they can feel more at home as time wears on.
6) Try to keep a routine (or some semblance of a routine). This will help your kids feel more at home and help everyone relax. Whether it’s keeping certain meal times, reading bedtime stories, playing a game every night or taking a morning walk together, this can help everyone feel just a little more settled.
7) Travel with friends who have kids. In an ideal world, you would have friends with kids who are friends of yours. If this is true for you, organize a dual-family trip. This way, your little ones will have friends – and so will you. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to share babysitting duties when you want to have a date with your spouse, you want a girls’ spa day or the guys want to hit the driving range.
About the Author: Lisa Rich is a travel blogger and who works with automobile companies and rental car businesses. She lives in Arizona and is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hiking, golfing, swimming, tennis and soaking up the sun.