Traveling with kids can be fun. It can also be pretty stressful.
We'll help you maximize the fun while minimizing the stress with some easy tips. If you start planning your trip with realistic expectations, you probably won't be disappointed. So recognize the limitations that traveling with kids can impose on your trip. And then work around those obstacles by coordinating a vacation that everyone will love.
Our guide is designed to help you pinpoint the potential pitfalls of a family outing. Whether you're going away for a long weekend or a summer vacation, these tips can help.
What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial
And there are a few tools we think it would be handy to keep around as you begin preparing.
- A computer or smartphone. It might go without saying, but you'll appreciate the wealth of information available online.
- A short list. When traveling with kids, we suggest sticking to the essentials. Bring what will make the trip easier -- leave behind what will make it harder.
- A long fuse. This might be the most important factor. If you can keep your cool through some tense moments, you can really enjoy the amazing ones.
How to Travel Hassle-Free With Kids
Here are our tips to guide you through the process. If you've never tried such a trip before, or you feel you could do it better, fear not. It's really a lot of simple things that combine to give you and your kids a stress-free trip.
1. Plan for simplicity.
With fewer moving parts, there's fewer chances for a trip to derail. So we recommend keeping things as simple as possible. Of course we realize that traveling with kids makes that difficult.
Your young companions might have certain things they absolutely must take with them. But if you can get them to keep that list to small items of comfort, you'll have less to lose. Because the only thing worse than leaving a favorite toy at home is leaving it behind in another state. So negotiate a list of "must have" items with your kids. Then stick to it. Keep that list with you if you have to in order to keep up with everything. And as far as packing for yourself, we recommend keeping it as Spartan as possible. Let's face it, other people probably understand the situation when they see you surrounded by kids. So don't worry about bringing along every fashion accessory you have just to show off.
And there are ways to simplify the things that you do have to take with you. This can mean decisions as simple as avoiding buttons and shoelaces. Pullover shirts and slip-on shoes can be fun and easy for your kids to put on. It will also be more comfortable during the inevitable nap on the road or in the sky.
2. Consider an early start.
For the sake of everybody involved, we think traveling with kids is best when it starts early. There are a few reasons for this, and it applies to almost any type of travel plans.
First of all, if you're flying or hitting the road, your path will probably be less crowded. Trying to board a flight or merge into traffic during morning rush only adds stress. Plus, we've found that people (including your kids) might be more willing to travel early. Maybe you'll even be fortunate enough to see them take a nap during the trip. Then of course there is the other end of the route. The earlier you leave home, the earlier you can get to your destination. And walking into your hotel room or a nice local restaurant is a sure way to boost everyone's spirits.
Plus, an early start can put an end to an age-old vacation frustration. Parents in the front seat often have a tug of war with kids in back over the travel schedule. Every interesting roadside attraction or gas station is worth visiting, your children say. And it seems that somebody in the car has always got to use the restroom. Well, you'll still have to compromise. But with more time to spare during your travel, you can relieve some of the tension building up. Choose a couple of places to stop, stretch your legs and regroup. It might put everyone in a better mood.
3. Plan fun.
Yeah, we know we asked you to pack your bags sparingly just a couple of steps ago. Well here's an exception. It won't take up much room, but it might just help you out of a jam.
If you're like us, you probably know your kids can get bored very easily. But it can also be pretty easy to get them interested in something else. Kids have a short attention span, but directing it in positive directions can be great. It does take some preparation, though. Think about the things your kids really enjoy. Do they like to color? Maybe they can't get enough building blocks. Try to pick a few diversions that you children can enjoy from the confines of a car or plane seat. As adults, we know that it can be a drag to travel long distances. Traveling with kids can remind us of how much worse it seemed when we were growing up.
So do your kids a favor and pack a few surprises for along the trip. Not only will they appreciate it, you will too.
4. Act like a duck.
That's right, ducks can be your best example when traveling with kids. The saying might be cliche, that doesn't make it any less true. Dismiss minor annoyances like water off a duck's back. Let's be honest: things are going to go wrong. Admit it, own it, and roll with the punches.
If you have no expectations of a perfect trip, you might just find you have the perfect trip. Your kids have their own personalities and their own pet peeves. So do you and any other adults on your trip. So when you're in a confined space, things are bound to get a bit heated. But keep your fuse long and your threshold for laughter low. Find things to laugh about, because that's usually contagious. Whatever you do, don't contribute to any brewing bad moods. That might sound tough. But you're the adult and you can set the tone.
And if you're worried about what others will think, don't. First of all, if they have kids they've probably seen worse than whatever you can show them. And if not, they're likely still on your side. Most folks have some experience with kids, and parents, and know it's a lot of chaos. There might be a few out there who will give you a sideways glance. But let's face it, they'd probably be ticked off if your kid sneezed. So disregard the negativity and set the pace for a great getaway!
Traveling with kids should be a wonderful, memorable experience.
And with the right preparation, it really can be. Sure, we know it can be tough to be a kid. It can be tough to be a parent, too. But vacations and other outings can bring us together as a family.
We hope our guide will help your next trip with kids go off without a hitch. If you enjoyed our tutorial, share with the traveling parents in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.
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