Traveling with your kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. A little planning ahead will make things go more smoothly.
Getting there is half the fun! How are you traveling? By car, by train, by air? Keeping the kids entertained on the way will save you a lot of stress. Have each child bring a notepad or notebook so they can keep a travel journal.
Travel Journal Ideas
- Write down the name of every town you pass through
- Keep track of the route you take
- Describe interesting or funny things you see on the way
- Do a senses check — what do you see? Hear? Smell?
Make sure the kids each bring a book or magazine, too. If they finish it before the vacation is over, they can switch with their siblings. Sure, maybe your little princess doesn’t particularly want to read a sports magazine, but it’s amazing what you will find interesting when you’re really really bored!
Sometimes you’re going to need a game to play.
- INITIALS: Think of a famous person, but only tell the initials. Everyone else gets to ask yes or no questions (we played a total of twenty questions, but you can make your own rules) until somebody figures out who the initials belong to. That person gets to think of the next famous person.
- I SPY: I spy something with my little eye that’s blue! Everyone has to guess what that blue thing you see is. Maybe it’s the sky, or another car, or mom’s blue nail polish.
- ALPHABET GAMES: Pick a topic, like animals or cities or superheroes, and try to name one for every letter of the alphabet.
- WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS: If you need some quiet time, or are trying to get the kids to sleep, try this trick that always worked when I was a camp counselor: have a silent counting race. Have the kids try to count to a thousand in their heads; I guarantee they’ll be asleep before long.
Once you’re there… you’ve got a whole new set of possible problems. Picky eaters, reluctant tourists, and the ever-present boredom. Let’s face it. A ten year old probably won’t have much of an attention span when it comes to historical landmarks. Try to let each child pick out one thing they REALLY want to do or see while they’re on vacation. Make sure everyone (parents too!) get to do that one thing at some point. Keep reminding everyone to be tolerant of activities that the others picked.
If a day or two at the beach is part of your agenda, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure everyone knows how to swim!
- Know where everyone is at all times.
- Have older kids check in with you hourly.
- Don’t let the kids swim unattended.
- Don’t swim on a beach without a lifeguard!
- Slather everyone up with sunburn — a miserable lobster child will not make your vacation any more pleasant!
Will the kids be staying in a separate room? Don’t be surprised if there’s an argument or a wrestling match gone wrong. Make sure they understand proper behavior for a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast! No running up and down the halls, no screaming, no extra loud television.
And once it’s finally time to head for home… bust out those travel activities again! Otherwise, you’re going to have a bunch of tired, sunburned, cranky travelers on your hands. The trip home is a great time to finish those travel journals with recaps of all the things you did and saw together.
One last thought… Everything isn’t going to be perfect. Accept that and try not to let a little problem put a huge damper on your whole vacation!