You could be traveling across the country, across the state, or even just across town—no matter what the distance is, getting from point A to point B with little ones in tow is no easy feat. Dropped food containers and ear-shattering screams, incessant kicking on the backs of chairs and full-on meltdowns in the middle of airports. Mom and Dad, you know what we’re talking about. Not sure what to pack on a family trip? Should you bring extra toys or a baby swing, for example?
If a recent trip with your children made you feel on the verge of pulling your hair out—or if you want to prevent such an experience before it can happen—we have several tips and tricks for make traveling with kids a whole lot easier.
Here are our top 5 suggestions.
1. Pack Snacks
Nothing says, “please stop crying” like a bag of gummy bears or lollipops. But unless you want an extreme sugar-high to become your next problem, you’re much better off packing healthy snacks (like Lil Bucks, for example) that provide your child with the nutrition they need—while also distracting them from their grumpy mood.
Even though you’re on-the-go, be sure to never skip breakfast when traveling with kids. You’ve heard the saying: breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Skipping a morning meal can cause everyone to feel irritable or restless later in the day. Though it’s difficult to get moving in the morning—and your sleepy, frazzled kids insist “they’re not hungry”—try to pack fresh fruits, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, high protein snacks, or cereal bars made with whole grains. Everyone will feel much better no matter how many hours pass by! Even consider packing snacks in lunch bags the night before your trip.
2. Snacks & Accessories
In addition to family-friendly travel snacks, bringing the right accessories is essential for staving off kids’ boredom. If your young one is still in a car seat, be sure to pick up a tether that can snap onto the car seat (or stroller or highchair) that securely keeps baby’s toy close at hand. These simple straps prevent you from fumbling around beneath the seat in search of that missing toy or pacifier.
Parents with older children tend to go down the digital route. Stocking the backseat of the car up with kid’s travel accessories such as tablets, pre-downloaded movies and games, tech protectors, headphones, and headphone splitters if necessary. In addition, a portable USB charger would help to prevent the tablets’ battery from shutting off mid trip.
While electronic time is good and useful in moderation, aim to engage your kids on the road with alternative means. These include education workbooks, Etch A Sketch, i-Spy games, or even a kid-friendly camera to capture all the sights passing by!
3. Sleep Whenever Possible
Parents know that the key to avoiding major meltdowns and mood swings is to make sure their kids are well rested. For that reason, you should let them sleep whenever possible while traveling with kids.
Of course, this is easier said than done. A spontaneous nap on your shoulder, a few more laps around the block in the car, a sudden retreat to the hotel room—whatever it takes to get your kid some shuteye! Packing a portable baby bed for travel will help facilitate the sudden changes in sleeping schedules.
4. Pick a Place with Kids in Mind
To whatever extent possible, pick your vacation destination with your children in mind. Of course, Mom and Dad also want a say in how to spend time off, but there’s definitely a compromise to be made! For example, the Sugar Factory in Connecticut caters to both kid and their parents with offerings such as signature Rainbow Sliders, decadent desserts galore, yummy Fried Mac & Cheese Pops—plus alcoholic candy goblets for adults!
Family-friendly resorts are another great vacation idea. These resorts usually offer a wide array of activities for kids. These include a kid’s clubs, supervised events, and dedicated childcare that keeps children safe, allowing parents to enjoy some time for themselves.
5. Choose Your Outings Accordingly
Whenever you can find child-friendly restaurants, activities, and outings, add them to the top of your list. From campsites with nature workshops, to immersive kid’s museums, these types of trips make life infinitely easier for parents. If you are traveling to a resort with a pool, ask about bringing pool floaties for kids and adults.