10 Tips for Vacationing with Small Children
Summer time = vacation time! But as a parent of small children or multiple children, you may be intimidated by the thoughts of and actually getting to your destination in one piece. Not to mention surviving for days away from home. But with these ten simple tips, and packing your sense of humor along with your luggage, you can survive and actually enjoy your vacation!
1. Babies and small children thrive with routines, and when those get interrupted, it can bring on a meltdown. Try to keep your travel day as closely in line with a normal day as possible.
2. Plan your departure time to be after a meal at home or after a nap. If you’re traveling with babies or toddlers, it may be a good idea to leave for a road trip after their bedtime, so they sleep through the drive. If you’re traveling by plane, get advanced seat assignments if possible. Airlines often have strict rules about the number of children sitting in laps allowed on the same row.
3. A plane ride, car ride or any form of transportation where you’re stuck in one place for hours is boring for everyone, especially the littlest ones. Bring a variety of toys, books and coloring books for entertainment.
4. If you are traveling with a baby on a road trip, attach a mobile to the inside of the roof to help distract him/her. Velcro strips and string are an easy, safe and damage-free solution for attaching it. Also, hang toys from the car seat for babies to grab and hold.
5. Games that include the entire family are also a great way to keep everyone focused on having fun instead of complaining. A scavenger hunt can be tailored to either road or air travel. Create a list of items to find that incorporate layovers or pit stops by including souvenirs and items unique to your route. (You can find already made, printable lists through a quick Google search for ‘road trip scavenger hunt.’ Or search the same term on iTunes for an app for your iPhone or iPad.) If your child is old enough, have them take a photo, or take one yourself, of each scavenger find during your stops. You can later help your children create a scrapbook to remember the trip.
6. Sing-a-longs with coordinated hand motions or dance moves are also a must for traveling, especially for older babies and younger toddlers not ready to participate in a scavenger hunt or other games.
7. You’ll also want to plan your stops for meals in advance and seek out baby/kid-friendly restaurants. Try to align the time as closely to normal mealtimes as possible. Also, pack plenty of easy-to-grab and mess-free snacks. For formula-fed babies, pre-measure the amount of powder for each bottle, so all you have to do is add water.
8. Plan activities at your destination in advance. Schedule kid-friendly activities that the whole family can enjoy when possible. And check in advance for child-sitting services that may available. If so, schedule it before you get there because it will likely book up fast.
9. Pack a few outfit changes for the days that you’ll be traveling or out and about sight-seeing. Babies and small children are often messy and are likely to have bathroom or mealtime accidents. Pack each outfit in a separate plastic bag for easy access and reuse the bag to stash away the dirty clothes to keep them soiling other items or smelling up your luggage.
10. Stay calm. As hard as that sounds, if you stay calm, your children are more likely to also stay calm. Children are children, and they will throw a fit at some point no matter how much planning you do. But how you handle it makes all the difference. Try not to worry about what other people think. Focus on your child and what is causing the tantrum. Remove the child from the situation if possible. Try distraction with different toys or offer a tight hug.