Written by Piera Jolly of Jolly Mom for Personal Creations Blog.
With the spring right around the corner, many families are busy making spring break and summer vacation travel plans. While traveling with kids on a long road trip or flight can seem a little bit daunting, it really doesn’t have to be. With a little preparation and planning, family vacations can be a fantastic bonding experience that will create lasting memories. Today, I want to share with you a few tips that have helped us have (almost) stress-free family vacations throughout the years.
1. Build in extra time. Whether you are traveling by plane or car, it’s important to add extra time to your travel so that you are not stressed about being late. This means arriving to the airport early to make sure you have enough time for bathroom breaks, getting through security with kids, etc. Or, if your family is headed on a road trip – build in extra time for lots of stops on the way. Kids need bathroom breaks, time to stretch their legs and run around.
2. Get your kids involved in the planning. Talk to your kids about the upcoming trip. Show them where you are going on a map, plan out a route (if traveling by car), read through brochures, watch online videos of your travel destination, and let them help make decisions about the activities your family will do. This gets kids excited about the trip!
Pack travel bags for each child. Have your kids each pack a backpack or bag with a few favorite toys, art supplies, and books that they can use while on the plane or in the car. I also like to buy the kids a few new toys or books that we can strategically use to surprise them with during the trip (i.e. when they complain about being bored or after they have asked “are we there yet?” ten times).
It’s important to set limits on how many items they can take. Their bag should be light enough for each child to carry on their own or else mom and dad will end up carrying it!
3. Be prepared for weather. Make sure to bring a light jacket or hoodie sweatshirt for each of the kids just in case it gets cold in the plane or car and pack a couple of small umbrellas just in case it rains. Also, we never travel without a light, small blanket for each of the kids (and mom and dad too). It’s nice to have a comforting blanket to cuddle up with on a long road trip or flight. Amelia loves her My Pet Blanket so much she sleeps with it every night at home and when we travel.
4. Be prepared for messes. Have hand sanitizer and wipes readily available. Pack an extra change of clothes for everyone in your carry-on or in bag that can be quickly accessed in the car. I also like to pack portable, water-resistant bags like the Out N About Drawstring Bags that can be used for wet or dirty clothes. These are great because they actually zip up into tiny pouches, but when unzipped they store a lot of items. We like to call these our “Stuff” bags and I keep one in the car and in my diaper bag at all times!
[pictured above: Out N About Drawstring Bags]
5. Snacks. Lots of snacks. I don’t know what it is about food but it helps soothe antsy kids on a long road trip or flight. When we travel by car, we like to bring travel tumblers, a small cooler with drinks, and lots of healthy snacks and sandwiches to eat along the way.
6. Movies and video games. When we’re at home, the kids have very strict screen time rules, but when we’re on a flight or road trip those rules do not apply. Pack earphones for each of the kids and load up their smart devices with a few new age-appropriate apps and movies that they can play or watch during the flight or road trip. This allows everyone, including mom and dad to have a little downtime or quiet time.
7. Bring your best attitude and realize that no matter how much you plan there will be obstacles along the way. Just breathe and stay positive! Honestly, even the things that go wrong can turn into some of the best family memories. It’s all part of an adventure you are taking together!
Piera Jolly is the founder and editor-in-chief of JollyMom.com, a savvy and popular blog that provides moms with helpful parenting information, fun child-friendly activities, craft ideas, recipes, and the latest trends for moms, kids, and families. JollyMom.com is also proud to have been named a Top 10 Inspiring Blogger by Mashable, a Power Mom by Nielsen and one of Access Communication’s Top 50 Mommy Blogs!