News all over the world has announced that Donald Trump is running for the US presidency. FIFA Women’s World Cup lets us know that six teams will go on playing while Ecuador and Nigeria sadly pack their bags to go home. Local weather channels warn us about the wet and stormy day ahead. Can’t do much to change these things.
At times, parents feel like they can control politics, sports and the weather better than their kids. When you’re at home things are easier. Children know the house expectations, they have their own toys and can be better entertained, stained clothes can be changed, nap times kept undisturbed etc. But go on vacation, and things change.
Traveling is fun. Kids are fun. Put those two together and fun goes bye-bye out the window. As school is over for some and will be soon for others, families dream of getting away from the routine. As much as it depends on you, here are 20 practical tips on how to travel with kids to help your vacation not remain just a fantasy, but an awesome, memorable experience.
As You Dream About A Family Vacation
• Your vacation will only become reality when you are very intentional about planning it.
• Talk to your spouse today about possible dates, budget, type of vacation desired or needed.
• Jot down all ideas, then start looking for best options. Be proactive.
• Create memories each day with some special activity, even while dreaming about your next vacation.
As You Plan Your Family Vacation
• Start creating your lists: Things To Pack, Things To Buy, Car/ Plane Activities, Things To Do On Vacation (Organize your lists neatly and put them on your fridge and phone). Planning well will help you not forget something important that might bring frustration when not at home.
• Talk to your kids about where you are going and what your expectations are. Remind them over and over again the rules for the car/ plane ride, at the pool, at the restaurant, how to deal with strangers, etc. Communication is vital. It will save you a lot of undesired correction while travelling.
• If you travel abroad, verify the passport expiration date. For example, if you travel from Europe to the USA, you need to have 6 months availability on your passport. You don’t want that to spoil your trip!
• Check the weather for your destination. This way, you will pack exactly what you need and not need to spend extra money on unnecessary items. Save your money for souvenirs.
• Check your credit/ debit card if it’s good to travel with. Depending on where you’re travelling, do you need to let your bank know about your plans to travel? Will your type of card work in that country? Does it require a password? etc.
• Talking about money, ALWAYS have some cash on you. You just never know what might go wrong with the card or if you won’t be able to find an ATM machine.
• Pack your bags a few days in advance. Don’t leave things to the last minute. This way you decrease the risk of forgetting or overlooking some things. And, you don’t end up packing till late and possibly get stressed out even more ’cause you’re running out of time. Then, you sleep less to catch a plane. Mom and dad are grumpy and so are the kids. That would not be a good start.
As You Drive, Without Them Driving You…CRAAAAZY!
• If you have small kids, plan on making frequent potty breaks to stretch, snack/eat and, of course, go potty.
• Don’t hand out all the books and toys in your first ten minutes. Give one activity, book, or toy at a time and then have a little break, then move to something else. Spread your resources wisely, then recycle if possible.
• Don’t forget children love music. So, bring their favorite CD’s for sing-along (a new CD is not a bad idea too).
• If you have CD’s or an app with read aloud stories or books, it’s a great way to kill time and create interest in books.
• Soft toys might be a better idea. Have nothing sharp like pencil, pen or crayons. There’s a high risk of kids poking themselves in their eye or their sibling’s eye. If they are old enough, sticker books are a better option.
• Avoid eating/ snacking in the car. Choking is a high risk. It’s listed as the 4th cause of death in children under 5. Most common things parents give to kids to snack on are high on the NO- NO list for choking hazard: chips, pretzels, lollipops, marshmallows, popcorn, fruit with skin, hot dog coin shape. The size of a child’s trachea (windpipe) is approximately the size of a drinking straw. So, since it’s impossible to predict a slam on the brakes while driving, it’s best to stop when tummies need to be fed.
As You Enjoy Your Family Vacation
• Explore all the play parks in that area. Let your kids use all their energy, that way when you go to a sit-down place, kids will be more settled down. You will proudly make people think they always behave like this 🙂
• Going to the zoo and the farm is always a great idea. Kids are fascinated with how the real animals look like. (By the way, if you have small kids, make sure to have some books with real pictures of animals. Otherwise, you might get a surprise to see that your kids may not recognize real life animals).
• Another trick to make your kids interested in what you are interested in is to give them a kid camera (toy or a real camera designed for kids). Teach them to capture every moment.
• And as I mentioned in a previous article, don’t get frustrated over spilled milk. Give grace to your kids, but continue to give correction, discipline and proper teaching as you would do regularly. Kids need CONSISTENCY and they do need to know how to behave on vacation. My principle is that Correction is never on vacation.
As much as I came up with a few practical tips on how to dream, plan, travel and vacation with kids, please let us know if any of this was helpful. I’m sure I have barely scratched the surface of coming up with practical ideas. So, please let us know your tips.