Traveling as a family is one of the most exciting things you can do. Whether it’s visiting far-away relatives or exploring new parts of the world together, you’ll be making memories to last a lifetime. But let’s not pretend that it’s always easy traveling with kids.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, a long journey with kids can be a nightmare. Kids end up getting grouchy, parents get to the end of their tether – and that’s before you’ve even left town.
But with a bit of realism and some planning ahead, a long journey with kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are some crucial things to consider to make your trip (almost) pain-free.
Keeping the kids entertained
Kids perceive time differently. Even a 15-minute car journey to the store can leave them blurting ‘are we there yet?’. Journeys that last for hours on end are going to feel like a lifetime. If you’re in the car, you have the luxury of taking rest stops. But even so, the monotony of being on the road can make travel boring – and we all know what happens when kids get bored!
Keeping them entertained is key to making the trip whizz by, both for them and for you.
Playing games is a time-honored tradition on long family journeys. But there’s only so many times you can handle I-spy. If you’re traveling by boat, train or plane, you could pack some travel-sized board games or even a pack of cards. When it’s time for quiet, a digital device always goes down a treat. Particularly if your kids are older, taking it in turns to ask interesting trivia questions can be a great way of mixing it up – and it’s educational, too!
Is everyone sitting comfortably?
Depending on your mode of transport, you might not have much control over comfort levels, but a bit of planning ahead can save a world of headaches.
Car trips are great because you have more control over things like noise, temperature and rest breaks. But they are also notorious for sibling squabbles! It’s worth planning ahead how you’ll prevent bedlam in the backseat.
On the other hand, traveling by train or plane can mean aircon chaos! It’s tricky when you’re not in control of the thermostat. You never know what the temperature be like. But being comfortable will help everyone to keep a cool head. If you’re faced with iceberg temperatures, you’ll be glad you packed a sweater or a blanket. A hand-held fan is easy to pop in your hand luggage and can be a savior in a stuffy compartment!
Maintain high spirits
Nothing tries tempers more than a hungry belly, so of course, you’ll want to pack snacks! If you’re flying, be sure to check what you can take through security. If you’re in the car, an ice box is a great way to keep your snacks fresh. This way you can pack delicious, healthy snacks and not just candy.
As a parent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing everyone else. But don’t forget to look out for yourself, too! Sometimes the better your mood, the easier the journey will seem. Kids often take the cue from the grown-ups, so if you’re chilled out, they’re more likely to be, too. Pack the creature comforts that will help you stay zen when things get tedious, whether it’s headphones or something to help you as a smoker on long trips.
Scrap the scenic route
Maybe you’d love to take a slightly longer route to see more sights. Or perhaps adding a layover to your flight may save a bit of money. This might sound like a great idea, but unless it’s strictly necessary, it’s probably best to avoid. When you’re a few hours into the journey, you’ll probably thank yourself that you took the quickest route possible.
Saying this, it might be a good idea to plan a route where you can take plenty of breaks. If you’re hitting the road, it’s sometimes worth planning out rest stops ahead of time. This can help plan meal times and also gives you something to say when the kids inevitably ask ‘how much longer?’.
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Catch some Zs
Somehow, traveling is exhausting, even when you’re not in the driver’s seat. And we all know what happens when kids get tired. To get off on the best foot, try to make sure everyone gets plenty of rest the night before. It’s easy for excitement to stop little ones from sleeping, so keeping them busy the day before can help to wear them out. If they’re anxious about the journey, getting them interested in the destination or the people you’re going to see could soothe their nerves.
If you’ll be traveling through the night, you could pack pajamas for kids to change into, as this can help to make them feel sleepy and settled. Bringing along pillows and blankets, or investing in special travel versions of these, can make the whole experience a dream. And don’t forget to factor in plenty of rest for the adults, too, especially if you’re driving.
Going on a family trip can be a great bonding experience. Many families are now so busy that spending quality time can be hard. So while being in a confined space for hours on end can be a challenge, it can also be a great opportunity to talk, play games, and make memories.
Try to be realistic though. Long journeys with kids can be tough, even for the most prepared. Give yourself credit for the small wins, like averting a backseat fight or getting the kids to take a nap. Even if the journey doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, hopefully by following these tips you’ll feel less stressed out and be able to truly enjoy whatever exciting destination lies ahead.