We traveled almost every month this year for various reasons, and one thing I have learned is that it is impossible to predict how a trip will go with little ones. There are so many factors that can affect a trip, BUT here are a few things that helped us out over multiple hours in the car with multiple children…
Tips for Traveling with Children:
1) Activity bins – I found some stacking bins to put in the middle of Gabriel and Veronica, and loaded it with new inexpensive activities, snacks, and distractions. I made sure the items were mess free, and for the most part, it kept them entertained during some of the longer stretches.
2) Books on Tape – Before our trips I would let the kids pick out a few books on tape (CDs) from the library to listen to in the car and follow along with a book. It is mesmerizing to them, and even Max is a silent moose through them. Another wonder we discovered are these Classical Kids CD series. I cannot believe how it holds their attention. They seem to go into a far off daydream world when we play them. So we press repreat…
3) Turn everything into some kind of adventure – I realized that at the younger ages, it doesn’t take much to get their eyes wide with excitement and wonder. You can turn everything into an adventure. During gas station stops we let them bring a bag of change to buy a whole treat with at the gas station. Lollipops are gold around here. We gave them a instax polaroid to snap a few pics of whatever caught their eye. This kept them in observation mode whenever we visited museums or restaurants. Gabe is really good at coming up with games so there were a few times we challenged them to find certain things depending on where we were. An ispy type of challenge.
4) Always have snacks – Loads of them. They have saved us in many many situations;)
5) Flexibility – We have learned that traveling with children is only possible with a flexible mindset. There were many times I would get super stressed when my hopeful itinerary was ruined. In reality, high speed schedules (or lack thereof), less sleep, constant stimulation, etc. can be tough on adults let alone children. We usually go into a trip now with a list of hopeful ideas and a semi-plan versus an hour by hour. We also try to allow extra time in between activities to make sure there is plenty of room for rest or meals. Our last attempt at this method went really well, and we even survived a day without naps!
6) Backpacks – We put Gabriel and Veronica in charge of their own backpacks with snacks and water bottles which they both were quite proud of since we trusted them to carry such valuable things;). Whenever they were thirsty (which I feel like is every 30 minutes no matter what season or where we are), they could pull out their own water. They also kept their trusty camera in there too. So Young has some really great insulated backpacks and lunchbox options for kids.
7) Noise Machines – We held out until our third child to get a noise machine, until my sisters swore it would change my life. And it has. Whether you are staying in a hotel or residence, the noise machine drowns out noise and has helped our toddler fall asleep and stay asleep in both situations. Even if everyone is in one large room, having a noise machine next to an area where the littlest one sleeps actually helps us ALL sleep better. Max has ended up in our bed several times nonetheless…;)
8) Restaurant Bag of Tricks – Max walks into a restaurant and it seems to set of the Mad Max alarm inside of his little personality. Mania and mischief take over and no exaggeration when I say, forks go flying. I know most parents can relate to some embarrassing experiences of wanting to leave the food on the table and maybe even their kids behind, so hopefully this tip will help prevent the next disaster! I will throw in my bag ziplocks of crayons, coloring books, snacks (because I’d rather stuff Max’s face than have him crawling under people’s tables…), little games for the older two, cars or trains, and if all else fails, the iphone! I am not below a little screen time in emergency situations;)
I could go on and on, but in case your attention span has left you, we will save it for round two. Any tips to add? I would love to hear all your tricks!