Traveling with Kids – Survival Tips
Family vacations when I was a child meant long, often several days of being stuck in the back seat with my sibling. I am sure that the ride was just as long on my mother as it was on us but she never seemed to mind.
Fast forward several decades and I find myself faced with the same dilemma. How to travel with kids and still survive.
We came up with several games that always helped to keep the crazies at bay..at least for a little while!
Here are a few of our best survival tips for traveling with kids this summer.
These were similar to our toddler “school” only and “church” only games. We have a container of toys that are only allowed to be used at certain times, such as while in the car. First this prevents so many toys from home being packed and possibly lost, it helps to keep their attention with the newness. Our car toys are only brought out when we are in the car, so even if you travel frequently, there are still “new” toys for the trip.
What Kinds of Toys?
While your child may want to play with their Lego’s or other toys that have a thousand pieces, it’s not a good idea in the car. My crew would have lost most of the pieces along the way and that would have opened a whole other set of issues on the way home with out their “now favorite” toy with missing pieces.
Here are some suggestions:
Put away your image of just a plain white board. Today there are activity kits available that come with a dry-erase boards, various transparencies and other fun things you can do with the dry-erase markers. Use the boards to color or to keep track of the number of yellow buses or purple trucks… We give our kids a list of things to look for along the way. The one with the most items found wins a prize or gets to make a decision for the family for dinner or sleeping arrangements.
This classic toy can provide lots of entertainment for kids (and adults) of all ages. The boards are now available in various sizes and often include a carrying case or suggested games to play with it.
Interactive Activity Boards and Games
While these are not only a great way to keep a little one entertained, the lights, sirens and noise can drive the rest of the car batty. Make sure you look for the interactive games that have a port for a headset! iPads, Gaming devices and Electronics all fall under this grouping.
A bag of magnets and a small cookie sheet will keep a little one busy for hours. My crew loves math and spelling games. There are also books available with magnetic characters and boards to go with them.
2. DVD Player
Okay, maybe this sounds like a cop out but my crew measure trips by how many movies it is to where we are going. It is 6 and a little bit of number 7 movie from our house to grandma’s. They know that we will be stopping at the hotel at the end of the third movie and this my friend can say your nerves with the questions and complaining of “how much father” you will hear more times than you can count. Again a word to the wise here, wireless headsets for everyone! Of course if you have a wide range of children you will want to invest in an additional DVD player to avoid the obvious fight over the movies to be shown. Tip: Select one that has lots of cute animals and music (without words) when it is close to nap time! Believe me it works!
3. Keep Your Coins Challenge
When we budget for trips, we include spending money for the kids based on their age and responsibility. Our older ones are given an amount that they have to spend which includes selecting some of the attractions or optional stops along the way. We cover food and lodging as well as the parental determined stops. Other items and purchases must come from their spending money. Before we hit the road, each child is given a small baggie with their budgeted spending money along with a roll of quarters. The roll of quarters is for behavior award or penalty. Start a fight, kick your brother, or engage in any of the listed unacceptable behaviors that have been discussed (yes, we have to have this talk with our crew)..they have to surrender one or more of their coins. If the offense was directed at someone, that person gets the coin. If you have really young ones, you might consider using tickets instead of coins.
My best tips for traveling with children…assign a buddy for the day. One of our older kids is matched with a younger one for the day. We change assignments each day, but for the assigned day the older child must make sure the younger one is buckled in, goes to the restroom and washes their hands, helps them order their meal or shares with them when we stop to eat, assists with entertaining them in the car by reading or playing games. Not only has this built stronger relationships between our children, it has taken a lot of the stress while traveling off the parents. Of course the older crew are given plenty of time to go off on their own while we are at the hotel or once we reach our destination.
How do you manage traveling with kids and not losing your cool?
Being a homeschooling mom to seven is the definition of chaos! It is easy to see why I am always looking for the simple way to get things done! I love to travel and am most excited about last minute trips. “Ready to Leave in 60 Minutes” could be my family call tag! Some of our most exciting trips were last minute hops around the country. I specialize in family travel, frugal travel, couple travel (got to always keep that relationship special) and extreme ride travel (a house of coaster junkies). Sherryl writes on her sites Simply Sherryl and The HomeSchool Village.