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Traveling with kids is hard. But it doesn't have to be impossible. In fact, with the right mindset and these tested tips, it can even be enjoyable.
We've been scouring the mommy blogs out there and dipping into our own repertoire of tips & tricks for traveling with little ones to come up with these 6 tips that we think you'll want to take with you, wherever you may be headed.
These ideas are for those summer travels that you've been looking forward to since the snow started melting, the long-term, long-distance vacations that actually mean taking time off, and not just trying to squeeze them into a weekend. If you are looking for tips for mini-getaways, we recommend checking out our post from the beginning of the year!
#TravelingWithKids: Mommy Blogs to Check Out
Before jumping into our 6 tips, let's give some credits to the moms out there who have traveled great distances with little kids and lived to tell the tale...as well as share some lessons learned.
6 Tips to Make Your Summer Travels Easier
We want you to be able to make the most of your vacation as a family, and that includes getting from point A to point B. So much of that has to do with planning and mindset, which is why these tips should help you prepare to take off or hit the road without too many bumps along the way!
1. Coincide Travel With Nap/Bed Time
Whether you're traveling by car or plane, one of the best tips we've come across is to try and schedule your travel time with the natural sleeping schedule of your kids. Examples: booking a plane ride for the afternoon to coincide with your child's nap time, or hitting the road around 8 or 9pm so your kids sleep most of the way (bonus: reduces bathroom breaks!).
One thing to note is not to keep your kids from sleeping on the way to the airport or during the day before traveling via car. This won't necessarily help them fall asleep during travel and it may backfire by creating very cranky, overtired kiddos who are already overstimulated by the excitement of the vacation.
2. Apps & Gadgets...These Are Your Friends
Don't feel guilty about letting your kids indulge in some screen time during travel. We recommend making a trade-off: gadgets during travel means they get put away once you're at your destination. Consider getting some tinyphones (kid-sized headphones) so they can listen to music, a portable DVD player, or a tablet device to keep them (and yourself!) entertained during those long hauls.
If you have little kids that you don't want playing on your expensive devices, consider getting a Leapfrog or InnoTab Learning App Tablet to keep them busy (and learn a thing or two!).
3. Schedule Stopovers & Pit Stops
Traveling in a car or plan with the enitre family for upwards of 5 hours may seem impossible. But what about 3 hours here, 3 hours there, and a final 2 hour stretch? That sounds more doable, doesn't it? Well that's the logic behind including pit stops and stopovers in your travel plans.
Not only does this give you and your family a chance to move around and stretch your legs, but it can also be some of the most memorable parts of your vacation! Check out your route and see what hidden treasures exist along the way. In fact, there's an entire website dedicated to helping you find them: www.pitstopsforkids.com.
4. Record Your Trip (& Get the Kids Involved)
This is one of those two birds one stone deals. Create an Instagram, SnapChat, or YouTube account and use it to record your trip and easily share with loved ones back home. You can put in place the appropriate privacy settings so you feel comfortable posting pics & video to those who have access.
The best part about this tip is it's a great way to get your kids engaged with your trip. As you travel, have them spot different landmarks or create silly challenges like taking funny pictures and then have them put a filter or other effect on the pic/video and create a caption before sharing.
If you don't want to record your trip on the web, then you could create journals with a page for each hour and have your kids draw, write, doodle what has happened for each step of your journey together!
5. Go Big on Accommodations
After having been in a car or plane for hours on end, you aren't going to want to stay the night in a cramped motel room just to save money. Give yourself and your family a break by going bg on accommodations, meaning space to breathe, beds to sleep in, and access to activities (or at least restaurants). It's important to be prepared for your accommodations while on the road, meaning you should bring essentials like your favorite pillow, your kid's blanky/stuffed animal, supplies to baby-proof the room if traveling with a little one.
It's also important to alert the hotel to any specific needs you'll have, such as a crib for the room, a mini-fridge for medicine or milk, and a couch that can pull out to a futon if you're wanting everyone to sleep in the same room. Also, when you go big with accommodations you can often take advantage of some awesome freebies, such as access to a pool/hot tub, a complimentary breakfast, cookies upon check-in, and any offers where "kids eat free."
6. Prepare an Emergency Kit
Maybe this one is a no-brainer, but an emergency can quickly take your travels from enjoyable, or at least bearable, to a disaster. Whether it's a bump on the head or an allergic reaction, make sure you have the necessary plan and supplies to handle an emergency if it should occur.
We suggest you bring any prescribed medications, children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen, antihistamines, rash ointment, sunscreen, bandages, disinfectant, and a thermometer. That list is not exhaustive but it's a definite start to getting you prepared.