As summer approaches and longer days are upon us, it’s that time of the year to start thinking about getting out of town, hitting the open road or flying the vast skies. Sound familiar? That’s right, it’s time to plan that stellar family getaway! Everyone knows that sitting in the car for long hours, or being in a small plane for an extended period of time, is not always the easiest thing, especially for young kiddos. We have compiled a list of ways to make traveling with the family a piece of cake, and will get you to the beach, a national monument, or out to the country in the faster than you can say, “Family Vacation”!
Before the trip starts, print off a child-friendly version of the route you’ll be taking so the kiddos are able to track it. Every time you stop or go through a big city, they can mark off a little bit of road off the map!
Let children pack their own, individual backpack to bring in the car. This will give them the responsibility of choosing what toys and books to have during the trip and to make sure they don’t lose anything!
Bring several books, but also check out a few different audio books from your local library. This allows the children to listen to the story, and imagine their own characters and settings.
A few weeks leading up to the trip, compile a list from everyone in the family of their favorite songs. Make multiple mix CDs of all of the songs, and listen to them in the car. It’s a nice surprise to hear the song each person picked and enjoy the whole family’s eclectic taste.
Bring an abundance of food, drink, and snacks. Pack everyone’s favorites to keep bellies full and hearts happy.
A great idea is to plan many stops throughout your trip! Many people believe reaching the final destination in the fastest time possible is the best idea, but with kiddos, they need to get out, stretch their legs and burn off lots of energy!
Most importantly, don’t forget: extra wipes, paper towels, blankets, socks, travel pillow and anything else to make the trip successful and clean!
First and foremost, before flying with a kiddo, you should sit down and have an age-appropriate conversation about flying and what will take place in the airport and on the plane. Airports can be big, scary places to a young child and a plane is a large machine they blindly trust to get into.
A suggestion from one of our Little Sunshine’s Playhouse moms is to set up a pretend airport and airplane in your living room and practice going through security, walking to your gate and waiting on your plane to arrive. Then practice sitting in the plane and ask your child their opinion on toys to bring and games to play while up in the sky. This shows your kiddo what to sort-of expect when you arrive at the airport for your trip.
When purchasing tickets, think of the time and your child’s schedule when possible. Is there a way to fly during naptime? Or even fly at night? Starting out the trip with your child getting a great nap in or good nights sleep will make all the difference in a great vacation.
The trick to traveling with a kiddo via plane is that they can’t be overly loud. Obviously talking and communicating is fine, but quiet and calm activities will keep other passengers just as happy as Mom and Dad. Try bringing a whiteboard, with the markers attached. Or try out the color wonder markers, they only show up on special paper and not on the back of airplane seats or all over bodies!
Always pack electronics and headphones in your child’s own carry-on. This way they can watch movies, listen to their audiobooks, or catch a few of their favorite La La Loopsy episodes. Also, packing your tablet with your child’s favorite apps will keep them plenty busy!
Bring an empty water bottle or sippy cup through security, and then fill up before boarding. This will allow them to pick their drink for the flight and minimize spills while on the plane.
Bring snacks in the no-spill containers to keep those goldfish in the bowl not on the floor!
Most of all, enjoy the time with your family. It is so easy to get obsessive and stressed out before taking a big trip, but remember what your vacation is really all about: getting away from the stress of jobs and the house, to spend a special time with your favorite people!