Get your kids involved with the packing
Kids tend to pack useless stuff like their favorite Disney shoes for a beach holiday in Cancun, and a bulging makeup case if they’re a teenage girl. Allowing your kids to pack their own stuff gives kids a bit of control over their vacation, and they’ll appreciate the responsibility. Just a bit of advice; make sure that you edit the contents before you fly to avoid disasters. This year I asked my toddler to pack a bag with me to travel away for a weekend, and he picked out about ten t-shirts and an Iron Man outfit.
Take your time when traveling
Whether you’re traveling from New York to Boston or London to Australia, your child will only want to go at their pace, and hurrying them along, particularly if they’re a toddler, is a recipe for disaster. Instead, make sure that you begin your journey with acres of time to spare to take the stress out of the day and give your child a sturdy camera to record their journey. You’ll be surprised what they take pictures of.
Don’t forget to pack a medicine case
Kids inevitably get sick on holiday due to different climates and experiences, so make sure that you take the sting out of the experience by having a bag of medical essentials just in case. That old fave infant Tylenol, some sanitizer gel, antihistamines, band-aids and a thermometer are essentials should never be far from your side.
Keep away from candy
It’s so tempting to let your kids eat candy so they stay awake on long journeys, after all, you want them to enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday as much as they can. But nothing will prepare you for the experience of kids high on sugar in a city that’s foreign to you. Just don’t do it, you won’t enjoy the stress. Instead, pack healthy snacks such as breadsticks, cheese and fruit which will fill them up without the unnatural mood spikes.
Stick to the highway
If you’re staying in the US and have small children that are in diapers or potty training, try to keep to the highways to ensure that you’re never far from a rest stop. Kids tend to announce at the worst time that they need a pee, and if you’ve chosen to travel the scenic route and you’re 30 miles away from your nearest highway, you’re gonna have an uncomfortable child and possibly a wet car seat by the time you get there.
Electronic devices are not the devil
We’re always told that we should keep kids away from electronic devices as much as possible, but one place where they really do come into their own is on long car rides and flights where even the most disciplined of children is bound to become restless, making them a dangerous distraction to the driver. Give your driver (and your kids) a bit of a break and download a couple of your child’s favorite movies and games onto a tablet before you travel and let them play for an hour or so between other activities such as coloring or playing games.
Baby wipes are your savior
Kids have mucky faces? Baby wipes. Dinner table in service station dirty? Baby wipes. Feeling a bit hot and sweaty? You get the picture. Baby wipes are every parent’s go-to item for a multitude of issues, regardless of whether you are traveling with a toddler or a teenager (Who will steal them right from under your nose if you leave them alone for a second). A bottle of hand sanitizer will also save your bacon when traveling to a less-hygienic country, but do make sure you check travel restrictions before you pack it.
Keep treasured memories
As well as them taking pictures, encourage your kids to make lasting memories by collecting keepsakes and writing a travel journal and filling it with lots of scribbles, postcards and drawings. Then who knows, maybe one day several years from now they’ll look back on all their happy memories and smile at all the great adventures and fun you all had together.