Having children is such an amazing experience but it is truly an exhausting one as well. (Trust me, I adore my boys but some days I feel like sending them to the circus!) One of the most stressful situations for any parent is the topic of traveling with younger children. Whether it’s a week or a long weekend, your much needed vacation may not be as relaxing as you hoped. There are many ways to help ensure your trip not only goes smoothly but also helps keep your sanity (or the little you have left!). You have probably heard advice from other parents (and even those without children) on how to travel with little ones but with all the advice going around, how do you know what really works?
Here are some tips to simplify your trip.
-PREPARE OUTFITS AHEAD OF TIME
We have all dealt with the stress and aggravation of getting a child ready and later realizing you forgot something at home. Simplify your packing by labeling storage bags with each child’s name and the date it’ll be used. Include socks, an outfit, a pair of undies (or a diaper) and if really young a bib. Cut the time of getting ready by just grabbing a bag and you’re ready to go.
-KEEP THE BABY FORMULA BUT AVOID THE MESS
Regardless driving or flying, save yourself the trouble of spilling powder everywhere by scooping the amount of formula needed in each bottle ahead of time. When ready, fill with water. This works especially well on the go and on flights when liquids aren’t allowed past security.
-ROAD TRIPS DON’T HAVE TO BE BAD You won’t find many kids playing ‘The License Plate Game’ or ‘I Spy’, and besides the iPad, we need to keep them entertained and avoid any restlessness. Try creating a surprise travel bag that includes a variety of snacks, books, a coloring book and crayons, Legos in a small bag and any other activities to keep busy. You can surprise them by wrapping each gift; either allowing the child to choose which to open or labeling each with a state name as they pass through. Have older kids? Write fun brain teasers and riddles to be solved and let the fun begin!
–BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
I’m not saying prepare yourselves for natural disasters or a zombie apocalypse but I am saying make sure you have children’s pain reliever, antihistamine, first aid kit as well as a travel instant ice pack. Included in our family’s bag are rain ponchos, baby wipes (even for older kids) and folded trash bags-one for possible vomiting and the second for soiled clothes. Have a list of any allergies your child may have as well as a list of medications, doctors and in case of emergency contacts available during your trip.
–DO YOUR RESEARCH Go online and research. Read reviews left by other parents with young children who have visited your destination in the past. Read what worked well for their family and what didn’t. Research whether others found the destination good for families and if there is much to do to keep children entertained. When choosing your getaway, try and find lodging that says ‘Kid Friendly’ and will provide special accommodations especially having a mini fridge and microwave in your room which is extremely convenient when traveling with little ones. Many resorts have babysitting services available with many various activities, while the grown ups can enjoy some much needed R&R.
When planning your getaway with young children you should always have a ‘To Do List’ and ‘What To Pack List’ visible and accessible at least a few days prior to your trip in order to jot down any notes and reminders but also so that nothing important gets left behind. Any parent that has traveled with children (heck, even running around running errands) can tell you that it’s always unpredictable when it comes to kids especially if it’s a new environment. Be patient and give your expectations a reality check preparing yourself to handle any situations that may not go as planned. Remember to enjoy the trip and all that comes with it…yes, even when it involves spilled juice.