It’s really great to travel as a family. Taking kids with you to any destination no matter what their age is a great way to have special family times together. Even if your kids are really well behaved traveling with children can be a challenge. When things go as planned kids can get tired and fussy. When things go awry kids can get really out of hand fast. You can stay one step in front of kids that are tired, bored and fussy while traveling with them. There are some things you can do to prepare for the inevitable and do it before you leave home so both you and the kids travel well and stress free.
First, make sure you as the parent are well prepared. Make a packing list, check it twice. Make sure you have everything. Then, pack light. Pack and take one soft side bag. The better prepared and lighter you are before you leave home the more you can focus on the children. It is true that the better prepared you are the better prepared you are for the kid type situations and emergencies. Secondly, prepare a small carry bag with “goodies” in it.
Whether you are heading out by train, bus, boat or plane you need to take a “goodie bag” for the kids. Goodie bags are surprise bags filled with unexpected treats. One of these surprise bags will work wonders for a cranky child or a long delay time waiting for a travel connection. Yes, unless they are teenagers who can and should entertain themselves, you will need to carry a goodie bag. Pack one for each child. (My two sons are so different and picky that two different bags focused on each boy has worked miracles for me!) The container for the goodies is irrelevant. It can be zip lock bags, small nylon duffels, Tupperware, lunch boxes or day packs. Just keep it handy.
Fill the goodie bag with both snacks and entertaining games. Snacks should be a combination standard favorites and new untried tidbits. The standards are fall backs if all else fail. The new tidbits are a bit of excitement that tends to keep a child’s focus. Make sure snacks are on the healthy side. Avoid candy if at all possible. However, even I used to pack a handful of lollipops. In the event all else fails a lollipop can quiet a screaming child and hold the attention of even the most restless toddler. Pack snacks in zip lock bags and toss in a few individually wrapped moist towelettes for quick clean ups.
Games are great surprises and do not have to be expensive. It’s likely that these will be a one time thing and not make the entire trip so do not spend a lot of money. Look for new and unique games to keep restless kids entertained. Check you local toy store for ideas. Most have a “Dollar Rack” and even for little ones there is always something. Checkers, chess, backgammon, mazes, crossword puzzles and coloring books with a new box of 4 crayons are great entertainment.
New little books can keep toddlers enthralled for hours. Also think puppets, bean bags, and even crayons and plain paper as long as its new. Older child above toddler age can start to pack their own carry bags with entertainment of their own choosing. It’s great to encourage this as they will take great pride an ownership in this, which means interest, At the same time, still pack a surprise goodie bag for them just in case.
Teenagers should be encouraged to get ready to entertain themselves. Their efforts to create their own bags should be supported. Just as an extra precaution, create a goodie bag for them as well. Pull it out only if you must and be prepared to be ignored and criticized for its contents no matter how well it goes over.
Finally, prepare one extra goodie bag for the munching spouse. Utter chaos can and will be avoided if the nibbling parent leaves the special children’s goodie bags for the children. Raiding kid’s munchies can negate any gains you will make in offer surprises.