Travel with kids is never a vacation… but it’s always an adventure! Whether you’re traveling by plane, car, train or boat this Summer, try some of my favorite tips and activities to make your adventure FUN and less stressful!
Tip #1 - Keep It Moving
Kids have notoriously short attention spans and get bored easily - especially young children. Make sure you have plenty of things planned to keep them occupied from snacks to games, activities and yes, even screens. You can either sense when restlessness is coming and switch the activity or set a timer to switch every ten or twenty minutes. Staying ahead of the restlessness is key, because once you lose the kids to fits of boredom or frustration, it can be hard to get them back.
Tip #2 - Activities
Some of my favorite traveling activities include magnet games like Funny Faces (pictured). Magnets are great because they are harder to lose and less messy.
I also love LCD drawing pads for that same reason (also pictured). Rather than markers or pens and paper, your little one can draw countless pictures and just erase them with the touch of a button. My son and I also used them to play games like Tic-Tac-Toe, the Dot Game and Marsh. It was a blast.
Another less messy option is Dry Erase Books (pictured). Your toddler can trace, draw and color and then you just wipe to erase!
Tip #3 - Scavenger Hunts & Maps
Printing out a blank map is an easy way to give kids something fun and easy to do on a trip. They can color in each state they fly over or drive through. Geography nuts like my boys loved “collecting” each state and it even spurred in them an excitement to travel in the future!
Another fun activity is a scavenger hunt. If your child can read, you can print a list of things for them to look for on the road or on the plane. If they can’t, you can always make a list of pictures for them to find. There are also plenty of free templates online. Side note: road farts is pretty funny. (See below.)
Tip #4 - Snacks
When in doubt, you can always take a snack break. I like to pack a mix of healthy snacks like fresh fruit and veggies as well as a mix of “special” snacks we don’t normally have. This could be anything from dried mangos to peanut butter filled pretzels - the more rare the snack, the more enticing. If your child is a picky eater, though, definitely stick to the hits!
Tip # 5 - Screen Time
I am not a fan of resorting to screen time to occupy my kids, but sometimes on a long trip it is necessary. Very necessary. When we were traveling cross country by car, our rule was one movie a day. I would have the movies downloaded ahead of time and it was a treat my kids very much enjoyed. When not watching a movie we would play family car games, do activities, talk and sing. Family time is a major part of any family trip so it’s important not to neglect moments when you can spend time enjoying each other.
Tip #6 - Audio Books & Podcasts
There are several great podcasts for kids out there. Some of our favorites are Smash Boom Best and Julie’s Library. In addition to podcasts I often download children’s audio books through the Libby app. My kids especially love the Disney Classics collection I downloaded - and bonus it was ten hours long!
Tip #7 - Take Time for You
Traveling with kids is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure to take time for yourself, even if it’s just five or ten minutes to read and have a piece of chocolate before bed. Ensuring that you are taken care of will ensure the rest of the family is taken care of so everyone can enjoy their trip. As the saying goes, “If mama ain't happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Truer words have not been spoken.