When my ex and I first divorced, my parents invited my children and I down to Florida for a week’s vacation at their rental house. I remember that my friends dropped me off at the airport with the kids and wished me luck. It was at that time I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into! I did survive that trip, but I learned some important things.
It’s All In The Planning
Traveling with children requires quite a bit of advance preparation. If you are traveling by plane, it’s really worth the extra money to purchase that direct flight ticket. Layovers with children really can be difficult.
If you are traveling by car, remember to allow extra time for breaks and stops along the way. It’s also important to plan activities to keep the kids busy. Keeping the kids entertained means a more peaceful trip for everyone.
If you can leave early in the morning, it might be possible to get the kids to sleep in the car for a few hours. This can really help things! I don’t recommend driving through the night with children. Remember that once you get to your destination, your children will be full of energy. If you don’t get your sleep, you won’t be able to keep up.
Packing fun snacks as rewards for good behavior can also help make your trip more pleasant. I pack cheese crackers, juice boxes and other healthy snacks. Remember to pack extra napkins and hand wipes too.
A friend of mine took her children on a very long road trip to visit her family. She went to the Dollar Store and bought a bunch of things that she thought her children would enjoy and put them in a box. Every so many miles of good behavior, she let the children pick a toy out of the box. She claims that she had wonderful results.
Another friend of mine took a slightly different approach with her older children. She actually paid them for good behavior. Every so many miles, they earned so many cents. Once they got to their destination, they were allowed to purchase souvenirs with their “good behavior” money. She claims that this also worked very well for her family.
I have found that long trips work best if I plan activities for my children for the trip. Our portable DVD player is worth it’s weight in gold during long trips. My older children love to listen to their MP3 players and play hand held video games. The younger children enjoy listening to books on tape or playing travel games.
Do you have travel tips you’d like to share? Please post!