Many families use the summer months to vacation and visit loved ones. This can and should be a fun experience for everyone. However, if not planned accordingly, traveling with children can be quite taxing. Here are some tips for a great family vacation with minimal stress:
- When making flight, bus or train reservations over the phone, be sure to mention that you are traveling with children and you would like to sit together. If you are booking your flight online, you can pick your own seats.
- Place everyone in their seats according to how they get along. You don't want to spend an entire flight or car trip hearing, "Stop touching me!" Or, "Mom, Bobby is staring at me again!" A vacation should have little to no refereeing disagreements between kids.
- Bring a pacifier and ear plugs for infants and toddlers. This will help comfort their little ears and prevent them from popping during take off and landing. For older children, ear plugs and/or chewing gum work wonders.
- Once you book your travel and hotel, you want to check the weather. There is nothing worse than arriving to your destination and only having shorts and t-shirts when you actually need long pants and a jacket. Not being able to dress accordingly can put a damper on your vacation immediately.
- After you check the weather, plan your outfits in alignment with the activities you have planned (i.e. having the proper dress for a dinner event that falls during a beach trip.)
- Show your small travelers how to plan their outfits as well. Yes, they can pack for themselves with proper guidance! Word of caution: always double check their luggage to make sure they have everything they need and that they didn't pack their entire closet.
- Pack a carry on bag for the family: any medicines needed, snacks and things to keep the children entertained and anything that will help them from working your nerves. Make sure it is handy at all times.
- We all know kids can get bored really easy, especially when sitting for long periods of time. While traveling long distances, you always want to keep them busy and the boredom at bay. This can be achieved by bringing their favorite games, books, and toys that keep them occupied at home. If they love a particular board game and or toy, many of them come in travel sizes that will allow them to have fun on the go! Purchasing the travel size is well worth the investment of keeping them occupied for many family trips or plane rides to come!
- If your kids like to read, watch movies or play with the latest apps, let them bring their Kindles and iPads with headphones.
- If all else fails, order a drink from the flight attendant, throw on some headphones and then it's everyone for himself...just kidding (well, slightly.)
- Food, glorious food! One of kids' favorite things and a key to a low-stress trip. Some airlines still serve food, as do the stores and restaurants in the airport, but if you don't want to spend your mortgage on it, you might want to pack your own snacks. I guarantee your options will be more kid friendly in taste and more parent friendly in price, than what you find in a gift shop.
- When flying, you will have to purchase all beverages after you check-in, since liquids are not allowed through security checkpoint.
- If you are traveling by car, you still may want to stock up at your neighborhood grocery store, Target or Walmart. This can save major bucks, as gas stations and rest stops usually charge more than these stores.
- For infants, you want to pre-measure their bottles (with powder formula) and have as many as you need for the duration of your trip, plus a few extra in case of delays, along with their favorite pacifier.
With a little planning and preparation, traveling with children can be a pleasant experience. Never skip these minor details, because they can be all the difference of your trip in a major way! It can be the difference of a vacation from hell, where everyone is glad to see you leave or one where they compliment you on your family and you guys actually wouldn't mind doing it again!