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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Travel Tips For Families With Young Children

Traveling with kids is an adventure.  It can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a major undertaking.  Here are some of my tried and true tips to make it a little bit easier.

1. Try to keep some semblance of the normal schedule.  This is probably my most important tip.  Kids thrive on routine and normalcy (at least mine do!), so even though the activities surrounding naps and meals might be different, try to keep those core things that happen every day the same.  For us, that meant making sure the kids got at least one good nap/rest time after lunch (and Elizabeth could nap in her stroller in the morning while we did something), and keeping snacks and bedtime at around the same times as at home.
Elizabeth was in awe of the fish at the aquarium.
2. Plan things that the kids can enjoy.  Jonah has been looking forward to the Lego store since March.  He saved up $20 since then, and was able to buy a Ninjago pack.  We also went to a living history farm, a kids' science museum, and an aquarium.  We did some fun things for the adults too, but traveling with kids is more fun when they're having a good time.
Jonah and Kai (a Lego ninja).
3. Slow pace it.  Take lots of breaks, even if you don't get to do or see everything.  It will make the things you do see more fun.
Hannah and Matthew stopping for a break with Grandma at the farm.
4. Plan extra fun things for the car.  I made a "vehicle bingo" for the boys with pictures of 25 different vehicles they might see, and gave them stickers to mark them off.  This kept them occupied for about 45 minutes (and then sporadically after that).

We also did special treat snacks in the car.  If you can, get things they can open themselves when you tell them to.  In our case, it was squeeze applesauces.  We don't normally get them, and the kids think they're great!  They're also not that messy, which is a plus for me.  We stopped for slushies at Sonic as well.  Promises of treats can get a few more minutes without whining or "are we there yet?"

The last fun thing I did was a baby wipes container with some activities in it for the boys.  I included:

  • A handful of Legos to make a car or plane (ones from our big bin of extras so it wouldn't be a big deal if they lost one)
  • A dry erase alphabet practicing pad with a marker
  • A small coloring/activity book and a pen (they had crayons and a bigger coloring book in their backpacks)
  • A few cars
One of Hannah's favorites was sitting on this pony.  She probably got on and off of it about 4 times before we moved on to something else.
5. Find free things to do.  Although we did go to a few places that cost money, one of the first things I checked out was a list of fun free things to do in Kansas City.  Several of those made our list right away, and then we supplemented with things that cost extra.  I'm pretty sure the kids had the most fun watching Grandpa jump into the hotel pool anyways.

6. Pack your clothes in a laundry basket.  You're going to bring the clothes home to wash them anyways.  I pack everyone's neatly folded clothes in stacks in our biggest laundry basket.  Once we get to the hotel, I unpack into the dresser drawers that are available and show the kids which drawer has their clothes in it.  As the days go on, dirty clothes go back into the (now empty) basket, and at the end, we just load it up to go home.

7. Finally, bring headphones (and a headphone splitter to share).  Since we were all in one room, entertainment was limited after the kids went to bed.  We watched Netflix on Jesse's computer with headphones, which was quiet and didn't shine too brightly to keep the kids up.

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