Traveling with the kids? Planning can make it enjoyable. Parents are advised to tell the children where they’re going, what they’ll see and how long they’ll be gone. Tell them what to expect when traveling by public transportation or eating in restaurants. Coach them to talk with new people, shaking hands and introducing themselves. Tell them what to look for at attractions and move them through quickly; even young children will enjoy museums if they aren’t expected to linger at each exhibit.
If you’re driving, start out at about 4 a.m. Most children will sleep for the first four hours of a trip. Break up travel by stopping for a few hours to visit friends or unwind in a park. Make a list of essentials, toys or other amusements to take with you so you don’t have to buy them on the road.
The first item you need to consider when traveling with children is food. What can you pack that will stay fresh all day? With the advent of miniaturization in the food industry (mini crackers, cookies and other snacks), packing food items for vacation travel has never been easier.
As you’re packing for the trip with your children, choose single-serve treats that stay fresh and keep mess to a minimum. Breakfast can be difficult while driving, but options like fruit, muffins, bagels or doughnuts are easy to eat in the car.
Avoid salty snacks and ice cream which are messy and tend to make a person thirsty. Remember to pack a cooler with ice and include a container of water. And to ensure a safer, more enjoyable trip for the entire family, here are a few tips on how to travel with children:
• Be sure to pack pillows, blankets and/or sleeping bags for naps in the car. To prevent spills, use the popular sport bottles for beverages. Bring along napkins/ paper towels and moist disposable towels.
• Make sure everyone wears seat belts and infants are in approved safety seats. The glove compartment should contain maps, first aid kit, a flashlight with fresh batteries as well as an extra set, pens and paper and important phone numbers (relatives, auto club, credit card companies, family doctor).
• Avoid bringing games or toys with numerous small pieces that can slip under car seats and get lost. Get the whole family involved by participating in such activities as the sign game, license plate game, and singalongs. Give your children some responsibility and teach them about reading a map by having them help with the navigation.
• To avoid arguments over the radio, bring along portable CD players with headphones.
Traveling with children is bound to have its slow moments, but by following a few simple tips, you can turn this trip into the “Great American Vacation.”