Taking the Stress Out of Family Travel

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By Jennifer Halter

With summer in full swing, many families have plans to travel and soak up the beautiful weather this time of year. If you have kids, making sure those road trips or flights go smoothly can sometimes add stress to something meant to be fun. Here are some tips to make your next vacation or weekend getaway easier.

Map It Out

Prior to your trip, spend time with your children looking at a map of where you’re going and any important
landmarks you may be seeing along the way. Let them research your destination and provide input on  activities they would like to do or things they would like to see. Allowing your children to be involved in this process will help keep the excitement up after being in the car for a while, as they will know things they should be on the lookout for or know that “in 30 minutes, we should be seeing…,” for example.

Road Trip Bingo

This is a fun activity for all ages, including younger children. Create a bingo card with objects or things you
would typically see while driving. Examples include, a stop sign, a bird, a red truck, to name a few. As your
children see each item, they can mark it off their bingo card. Reward the first to get bingo with a small prize or special treat at your next stop.

For younger children, use pictures of items instead of words. For older children/teens, you can be really specific with things, such as “an SUV with a Florida license plate.” You can make/print your own card or look for something reusable from the dollar store.

Pack the Snacks

If you’ve ever traveled with a young child, you know that snacks are the ultimate lifesavers. Prior to your trip, have your children pick out their favorite portable snacks to take along. This can also help with passing the time if you set a timer or designate “snack time” during your trip. For example, you can provide snack at the top of every hour or if driving, combine snack with restroom/stretching breaks.

Busy Bags

Keeping the kids from getting bored on your adventure can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you’re not prepared. In the weeks prior to your trip, spend time putting together busy bags or busy binders for each child. Bags can include a few of their favorite toys, books, or crafts. If you have multiple children who will play together, there are games such as checkers and tic-tac-toe that are come in magnetic versions, so pieces stay secure. You can also look for mini versions of board games or card games, which would be perfect on an airplane ride.

You can also compile your own busy binder for each child. There are tons of free resources online, including
coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, and word finds you can print for your child’s binder. Customize the binders based on your child’s age and themes they enjoy, such as dinosaurs or unicorns. Blank paper is also a great addition if your child likes to doodle or write. Include a zipper pouch for pencils, pens, crayons, and markers in each binder.

If you are traveling with devices, such as tablets or smartphones, be sure to pack chargers for each child
as well as a portable battery pack, if possible. Make sure devices and battery packs are fully charged before
leaving home, and be sure to charge up during rest stops.

Photo Memories

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s full speed ahead on making memories and documenting everything
through photos. But there are many fun and interesting photos that can be captured along the way and will show the trip from a different perspective from each family member. If you have them available, give each child a smartphone, digital camera, or other device that allows them to take photos. Have them snap pics of anything that excites them throughout the trip. Once you return home, look through the photos together to experience the fun from their view.

Parents Survival Kit

Don’t forget to make sure you have all you need to have the most enjoyable trip! Pack your own bag of goodies including entertainment for yourself, such as books and magazines, chargers for your devices, your favorite snacks, a small first aid kit, and whatever you take for a headache.

No matter where you’re going or how you’re getting there, remember to relax and enjoy making amazing
memories with your family.

Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas, free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round.

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