Here are tips that will let you and your family have just as much fun traveling as after you arrive.
The key is planning
The most important thing to do to avoid cranky kids is to plan whatever your needs far in advance. Save yourself headaches by doing these travel preparations a week or more before you leave:
- Proper ID
In 2018, the REAL ID act went into effect in America. In some US states, this law means that your driver’s license may no longer be a valid form of ID for airline travel. Visit Homeland Security’s REAL ID to check if your state is affected.
- Plan your packing
Plan what items you’ll pack ahead of time. Make sure clothing is available and clean so you can plan shopping and laundry for the week. This will mean checking your kids’ bathing suits from last year to see if they still fit – and for any damage. Don’t forget personal and feminine care items as well as accessories like swim goggles.
- Bring emergency items
Emergency items including bandages, aspirin or motion sickness medicine are essential – make sure they are packed.
- Check Airline/TSA requirements
Double check that you have all your travel requirements in place. Review your airline recommendations such as carry-on luggage size and weight limitations, plus TSA guidelines.
- Create a checklist
Once you have all that in place, create a checklist to cover all your needs, especially if you are traveling with a baby.
Finally, if you are traveling by air, instruct your children on security procedures so they are prepared.
Avoid “hangry” kids
It’s important to make sure your kids never get to “hangry”! Avoid unpleasant behaviors caused by hunger and low blood sugar by packing healthy options for your kids for travel. Make sure you pack car-friendly meals which are high in protein to satisfy them but low in sugar. Wrap up classic PB&J sandwiches, crackers and veggies with hummus, or wraps made with deli meats. Give your older child a protein box to satisfy their hunger.
If you need more advice, Aha! Parenting has a comprehensive list of tips for traveling with your kids.
Take activities on the road
Traveling with your kids is more fun if you set up fun activities for travel time. Here is what you can do:
No matter how you travel, you can take advantage of sightseeing with your kids. Pass them the camera – or phone – and let them compete to see who can take the most interesting photos, whether you’re in an airport or on the road. (Be sure they don’t take or post photos of strangers.)
- Celebrate firsts
If this is a “first” for any of your children, celebrate it! You can create a fake “passport” for them so you can stamp any of their firsts: plane ride, road trip, visit to a state, etc. This is a fun way to engage your kids especially if you travel with them frequently.
- Family games
From road trips to waiting in line, there’s nothing more fun than a family game to pass the time. Your kids can bring devices on a road trip but don’t let them be on them the whole time. Stuck for game ideas? The internet is full of fun and classic road trip.
- Road music
Be sure to load up a playlist of family favorite tunes so you can have an old-fashioned sing-along as you drive!
Traveling with kids shouldn’t be dreary. Use these tips to make it a fun way to start your vacation!
About the author
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.