Every so often that little bug bites me... and I get the urge to go travel. Anyone with kids knows those days of napping mid-flight or enjoying a magazine on the road are long gone. But, traveling with your kids can still be relaxing and fun!
Here are 10 tips for traveling with your kiddos this summer:
If you know you are going on a trip this summer, find an empty coffee container, cut a hole in the top, and start to dump loose change in there. You’d be surprised how fast it adds up! Have the whole family get on board- it’s a great way to start to teach kids to save up for things they want. My dad used to save all his silver coins and when we went to the beach and headed to the boardwalk, we had enough change to play games for hours! Your wallet will thank you, too.
2. Make a list.
Use post-it notes, a notebook, or an Excel spreadsheet if that’s what floats your boat, but write things down! I like to start planning a couple weeks in advance and jotting down the things that I know I would most likely forget. We all know to bring underwear but the camera or a favorite toy can easily slip by.
3. Confirm your reservations/plans.
Call the companies or go back into your email and review your arrangements whether it be flight info, hotel confirmation, excursions, transportation, tickets, or other reservations. Print out a copy of each and create a folder that you can reference that has all the details of your trip. Consider sending copies to a family member or close friend so they are aware of your plans in case an emergency or something unexpected comes up. Do you need a pet sitter? Someone to bring in the mail? Don’t forget about what you’re leaving behind, either!
4. Set up a staging area.
As you build your list, designate a place in your house (I use my dining room table) to start to place items from that list. You can even begin to check them off! This is a great head start to be able to put all the stuff that you have to dig out. If your trip doesn’t involve taking a lot of items, you can begin with things like passports, maps, print outs of itinerary, and tickets.
5. Check the weather.
A couple weeks out, you should be able to get a good idea of the weather wherever you are traveling. Be sure to bring sunscreen, bug spray, ponchos, or an umbrella or plan to buy some when you arrive. Begin to add certain clothing items to your list as appropriate- jackets, hats, swimsuits, etc. Begin to think about the activities you want to participate in when you are on your trip and think about which days might be best to fit them in. Check the weather before you leave to solidify these plans and make any necessary reservations for anything needed. If it’s going to rain on Tuesday, you may want to schedule the horseback riding for a better day.
6. Check in with your family.
Ask each member of your family if there is anything you can add to your list of things that they really want to bring (within reason!). This can include toys/games for your kids, a favorite pair of sunglasses for your partner, or even snacks to munch en route. This can also help alleviate drama when it is time to hit the road since you can get any arguing/negotiating out of the way early!
7. Plan for the essentials.
Are you going on a trip for 10 days? That’s 10 pairs of undies, plus one back up, socks, tops, pants, dresses, etc. Know how many of each item you will need to bring and assess your luggage situation. Will you need to check bags? Will everything fit in the car? Are you bringing a baby? Read up on the liquid restrictions from TSA. What could you buy when you arrive to limit having to carry items? Need to check a stroller? Better figure it out! Often times, kids clothing does not take up a ton of space and it may save you the hassle of another bag if you pack them in to yours. Do you have enough medication?
8. Think ahead.
Does your partner like to read on the beach? Grab some magazines or a book. Do your kids usually fight over the video games in the car? Design a plan for sharing in advance. Do you have littles who need diaper changes? Look at your trip and plan when you can pull over or when you will need a trip to the potty. Cranky when everyone is hungry? Bring a snack for the clan. Think about what you want to do on your trip. Maybe your partner would like some alone time or maybe you would! Plan an activity you and your partner can do alone with the kids to give each other a break. Do the kids like to play games or ride rides? Set aside time for a few fun activities. Is there an opportunity for learning? Pick something enriching like trying something new or exploring local art and history.
Going somewhere for the first time? Headed somewhere special for the trip of a lifetime? Or maybe this is an annual trip your family has been doing for years? Take some pictures, keep ticket stubs, bring home seashells, or hang on to other small mementos. I’m not suggesting reaching packrat status and having more things than you know what to do with but saving a few small keepsakes and putting them in to a memory box that you can open and smile at years down the road is invaluable. Purchasing a memory card for your camera or even a thumb drive where you can save all the pics is another great space-saving idea.
10. Have FUN!
Going on a trip can be downright STRESSFUL sometimes. This list can even appear exhausting. But, I feel with good planning comes the alleviation of some headaches and lessens the chance for things forgotten or argued over which can help keep everyone on an even keel. Remember that time with your loved ones is irreplaceable and you will have plenty of things to worry about when you get home. Relax, make sure to do something for YOU, and have a blast!