When it comes to family travel, recognizing and planning for the unique needs of your children is key. In general, children may find sitting still, altering their sleep schedules, waiting in lines, being removed from their regular routines, and not knowing what to expect challenging.
One way to help with the challenges is to plan accordingly when packing their bags. Here are some items to include on your next trip.
Depending on your children’s reading abilities, use picture or written out lists to outline the itinerary of the trip you’re embarking on. Knowing what’s ahead and what they can expect can bring children great ease and help them to feel involved.
When your children ask, “Are we there yet?” you can say, “You tell me!” Give them each their very own map, so they can follow along with the progress of your journey. Perhaps they can even fill in for your GPS.
Travel time is a great time to read. Bring along at least one book just for fun and one related to the destination. Remember, paperbacks are so much lighter than hardcovers.
Encourage your children to keep a travel journal. Show them the importance of including the date on each page and allow them the freedom to put whatever they wish in there.
Eye Mask, Neck Pillow, Blanket
If traveling by plane, skip the blanket (unless they need their blanket) and opt for the inflatable neck pillow. Allowing for adequate rest along the way can make all the difference.
Allow your children to bring along a stuffed friend to enjoy the adventure with them. The comfort this can bring is more than worth the luggage space utilized.
Obviously you’ll choose differently whether traveling by plane or car. My favorite plane snack for kids is a lollipop. Not the healthiest choice, but it lasts a long time and helps with ear pressure. If you’re in the car, though, load up. Use baggies and coolers to keep healthy snacks like fresh fruit cold. Water is always the best beverage choice. Sugary drinks can affect moods, energy levels, and sleep cycles.
In the car, pull together paper, colored pencils or crayons, scissors, tape, and anything else (short of glitter) your children may need when inspiration strikes. On the plane, a smaller bag of supplies and a coloring or activity book should suffice.
When adventuring with children, your going to need wipes. Whether cleaning wipes to tidy up a spill in the car or baby wipes for just about anything, or sanitizing wipes for hands after touching everything everywhere, bring wipes.
- Colorforms (for sticking on windows)
- Extra bags for garbage
- Audiobooks to enjoy as a family
- Fleece or sweatshirt for layering
- Extra change of clothes
- First Aid Kit
- A ball to play with at rest stops
- Stamps for postcards
- Reading lights
- ID bracelets, cards, necklaces, or temporary tattoos for safety
- Travel games
Just a little bit of forethought can turn a good vacation into a great one.