Top Tips for Traveling with Kids
Whoever said “it’s the journey, not the destination” has never been on a 5 hour flight with 3 children. As a child I had many 8 hour trips every school holidays with my brother and sisters squished into the family station wagon. My mom was always organized with fresh sandwiches and a thermos of tea for her and Dad but her idea of activities for us kids was, “Look kids, a sheep!”
Since becoming a mom myself I have discovered that, with a little organization, a road trip or long flight doesn’t have to mean digging your fingernails into the upholstery. Here are my tops tips for more restful traveling with kids.
Top Tip 1- Wrap things like presents
For ages: 2 to 12
I love this one – it works! Wrap 5 or more things up for your kids to open on the trip and slowly bring them out one by one. I wouldn’t mention how many you have or that you have them at all, unless you want to hear, “Can I have the next one, Mom?” and “When’s the next one, Mom?” every 5 minutes.
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant – a packet of sultanas, an activity book, the fishing game or a small packet of pencils. They get distracted while they open the present and as it has been given ‘gift’ status they will get busy with it for a little while at least.
Top Tip 2 – Spotto
For ages: 3 to 12
This game is ideal for really long car trips. Pack a plain sketchbook and fill a page or two with things that the kids have to spot on the journey. If they are older you can write the list, if they are younger you can draw pictures – a bird, a tree, an airplane, a bike, a train, a bus, and some harder ones like a dog with a hat to keep them keenly searching.
When they find each item they circle it their book and yell, “Spotto!” If they are older, once they have found everything on their list they can swap books and do each others or start a fresh page with new items for each other. Remember – the more the items, the longer they are distracted.
Fill another page with a scavenger list of things they have to collect on the stops to make sure they stretch their legs. Use your imagination but things like a rock, a stick, a bottle top, stick, a rock, a feather or a leaf.
Top Tip 3 – A Packed Lunchbox
Your traveling companions (and your sanity) will thank you if you keep the snacks in your lunchbox low in sugar and stickiness. Little packets of sultanas, packets of nuts and seeds (for older kiddies), banana chips, cheese, carrot and celery sticks, little tub of yogurt, dip, corn chips, fresh fruit, soy crisps or savory muffins.
Fresh water is a must too, be sure to pack a little drink bottle so that they can help themselves along the way. If you’re on a plane or a train sending them off to refill it will buy you a few moments to yourself every now and then too.
Top Tip 4 – A Bag of Goodies
On our most recent long flights I packed each of my kids’ wheelie suitcase with goodies. They are the perfect size for carry-on, can be packed with things to do and kids as young as two can wheel them themselves. I have so many fond memories of my children excitedly prancing through the airport with their wheelie bags in tow.
You can fill these with anything to suit your child, they will also get a kick out of packing it themselves. If they do pack it themselves, I suggest checking it before you go – you don’t want to be taking the family hamster on vacation! Some ideas – sticker books, activity books, a couple of picture books, stickers, a sketch book, pencils, felt board, a puzzle or two, crayons, an electronic game or iPod if they have one.
Well, they are the tips that have certainly helped me to feel like an organized mom and enjoy the journey when traveling with kids. We’d love to hear yours too. What are your top tips for traveling with kids?