The holiday season is upon us, which for many moms and dads means long car rides as the family travels to and from their holiday destinations. If we aren’t careful, what is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year” can quickly become the most frustrating time of the year!
I’ve learned the hard way that if I’m not prepared, traveling becomes a nightmare within 10 minutes of leaving our home! With a family of 7, a car load of gifts, and holiday food all crammed into our car, there is no longer any personal space which soon leads to temper tantrums. By doing a little planning before it’s time to leave, it saves my sanity, patience, and a lot of yelling! Here are 5 tips to travel with kids without losing your mind:
- Bring a small bag of toys keep them busy. We’ve had success with coloring books and stickers, travel games like Guess Who?, Travel Tangoes, and Spot It. Small toys such as Matchbox cars, magnetic dress up dolls, cars, and dinosaurs are fun, as well as travel-sized Magna-Doodles, favorite books, hidden picture books like I Spy, and word searches. The best part is that they all fill a lot of travel time.
- Bring snacks, baby wipes, a cooler of drinks, and a few plastic shopping bags to gather trash while you’re traveling. At each gas fill up, get rid of the trash and your vehicle will stay clean. For those of us parents who tend to get irritated when the car is trashed, this can save you from really having to clean later on.
- Technology is your friend! If you are traveling for several hours, a DVD player could be your best friend. We have found that investing in 5 sets of headphones was well worth the investment when the girls wanted to watch Frozen for the 3rd time in one day! It also gave my husband and I some needed quiet time along the way! If your local library checks out DVD’s, that is a great way to get your hands on some new movies for free and it also helps keep the kids’ interest because the DVDs are new to them. It’s easy (and can be free) to download some new apps onto your tablet or phone. Sing-a-longs can be fun and goofy, too!
- Plan for stops and give yourself a lot of time. No one wants to be rushed when they’re traveling. It leads to cranky attitudes and added stress. If you are going a long way, are there any fun places to stop along the way? Schedule and budget accordingly and everyone will be happier to have a little break.
- Be artsy. All kids love taking pictures whether they’re 2 or 13 years old. We bought the twins V-Tech cameras two Christmases ago and they love taking pictures with them. Disposable cameras also work great and you might be very surprised how artistic (or not) your child is. If you have an old digital camera, those work great, too because you can see what pictures they took before spending any money developing them. I was surprised that my middle daughter has a great eye for photography and she takes better photos than I do! It also has worked to encourage our kids to keep a journal to draw pictures in and record the journey along the way. The One Spot at Target almost always has journals, little notebooks, and writing utensils that will keep them busy. Finally, my kids really like it when I make busy bags. These bags usually have fun educational games for them to play and they enjoy them. My kids love these and I keep them in a backpack by my feet. When someone gets antsy, give them a bag to work on. You can find ideas to create your own busy bags on my Pinterest board!
What are your best tips for traveling with kids?