Summer is here which means traveling by planes, trains, and automobiles for many families.
Here are some tips to help make vacation travel easier and more enjoyable for you and your children. Pack some of these recommended items in a travel tote before you depart, and you are unlikely to hear cries of “Are we there yet?” every half hour.
1. Allow Plenty of Time
We all know that travel is stressful. Alleviate some of that stress by planning ahead and allowing plenty of time to get there. If you’re traveling by plane, get to the airport at least two hours early to get through security during the summer without worrying about missing your flight. If you arrive at your gate early, relax and pull out a game or art supplies from your travel tote to keep kids happily occupied.
If you’re traveling by car, plan on frequent rest stops (every hour or two) to to let kids go to the bathroom, run around, and blow off steam. Figure out how many 15-minute stops you will need to make along your journey and calculate your departure time to allow plenty of time for rest stops.
2. Pack Plenty of Snacks and Water
Pack healthy snacks with lots of protein. Snacks high in protein, like nuts, peanut butter, or hard boiled eggs, will stave off the crash that comes after consuming high-carb sugary snacks and can lead to meltdowns. I think all parents would agree that there are few things more stressful than a child having a temper-tantrum on a plane!
And don’t forget to keep your child well-hydrated during flights which are notoriously dry. Dehydration can lead to headaches and crankiness.
3. Play Games
Share the driving games you remember from your own childhood with your children. There is the classic “20 Questions” in which players try to guess what someone is thinking of by asking no more than 20 yes-or-no questions.
And there’s the “Alphabet Game” in which players try to spot each letter of the alphabet in sequence while driving down the highway—on signs, license plates, and billboards. The first person to get to Z wins.
On longer drives or when traveling by play, you can pull out your family’s travel tote filled with things like magnetic puzzles, books, and art supplies to keep children more quietly active.
4. Arts and Crafts
Pack art supplies. A pad of paper, crayons, and colored pencils not only get a child’s creative juices flowing, but can also be used for playing games like Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman.
Crafts like knitting or crochet will occupy a child’s head, heart and hands on the road and produce a beautiful handmade item by the end of the trip!
5. Listen to Recordings of Stories
There are lots of wonderful audio books of stories for children of all ages. The storyteller Jim Weiss offers a wide variety of stories for preschoolers (fairy tales and animal stories) to stories of Greek Mythology and King Arthur Stories for older children.
The whole family can listen while traveling by car, or a child can listen to an audio device with headphones when traveling by plane, while children are being introduced to classic literature.
Allow your child to be quiet with her own thoughts when she is calm. Time spent looking out the window and daydreaming are healthy activities and eliminate stress. Allow you child to sleep, when he is sleepy. A well-rested child will be much more cheerful upon arrival.
7. Toys and Supplies to Keep Kids Occupied
Here are some of my top recommendations for keeping kids busy on the road, by rail, or in the air:
- Modeling Beeswax
- Organic Beeswax Crayons
- String Games (Cat’s Cradle)
- Quick-to-Knit Scarf Kit
- Tegu Pocket Pouch
- Children’s Card Games Set
- Ferby Colored Pencils
- Eco-Art Pad
- Storytelling CDs
- Travel Bingo Car Game
- Wooden Magnetic Tile Puzzle
What are some of your tips and tricks for traveling with kids? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!