The mere thought of hitting the road with little ones causes anxiety since we all know how hard it is to handle toddlers on a regular day, let alone during long-distance travel. Obviously, family travel is not just another day in your family life. It takes a bit of planning and most of the usual rules simply won’t apply. No matter if you’re heading out on fun family road trip or hopping on an airplane, with the right mindset, a little creativity, and good planning this can turn into a manageble, pleasant, family bonding experience. Since we are currently getting ready for a long-distance trip with our kids I thought some tips would come in handy. Today’s guest post shares some great tips on how to survive moving your tribe from point A to distant point B. Like us, maybe you’re also planning a long-distance trip this holiday season. These might come in handy. Read on!
This is a guest post by Cate Palmer
How to Prepare for Family Travel
It starts the day before
Packing and planning takes time, yes, but this is not about that. The day and night before is about getting as much sleep as possible because you’ll need all the calmness in the world to get you through the day. Children are so sensitive and perceptive of parent’s moods as well as the whole atmosphere around, so rest assured they will mirror you. Start your journey with smiles and enthusiasm, let them soak up that good feeling and then take off on your family travel adventure.
Get the kids excited with fabulous stories about the destination
Whether it is visiting grandma across the country or heading off to Scandinavia, make your kids eager to get there. Don’t lie or make up stories about grandma’s pony pet or other mythical creature that will come to play with them, because it will surely backfire. However, do tell them about all the wonderful things they will see and actually experience during the trip. Get them excited about your upcoming family travel adventure!
Lie a little
Children have a different perception of time and space, so at some point, it is alright to lie a little about how far it is. Remind them that it is far, but that you are getting closer. Saying ‘’almost there’’ will become a mantra on this journey and eventually, children will forget about it for a while, or ideally, they’ll fall asleep. Of course, when they wake up, you’ll have to do it all over again.
Bring a lot of treats
Speaking of grandma’s apple pie, remember to bring enough treats. Don’t stuff them with too much sugar since all your efforts to maintain a ‘’harmonious atmosphere’’ will be in vain. Go after some kid-friendly healthy snacks like dried fruits or granola bars that will keep them occupied and full at least for a while. Chewing will provide you at least a few minutes of healing silence, so make sure to offer the treats at reasonable intervals.
Allow them to move
If it is a road trip, make frequent stops and aim for some playgrounds. Your kids will run and enjoy it like never before, simply because they had enough of sitting in a car. It is somewhat unrealistic to expect that a child will be able to sit still longer than a couple of hours.
If you are traveling by plane, take a walk around with your little ones, they will love it. Ask flight attendants to tell them something about the plane or to show them where is the pilots’ cabin. Usually, flight attendants are fabulous with children on board and can be very helpful.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to quite a child. A true story says that once upon a time, parents of two decided to travel across the world. Once they’d booked the tickets, they went shopping for the toys. Few new toys were kept a secret, while old ones ended up in the storage. During a long flight when nothing seemed to occupy their attention, mother performed a miracle handing out new toys and they sat quiet for quite some time. Travel toys shouldn’t be expensive or big, since being new is their biggest quality.
Entertain your children
There are plenty of games, starting with ‘’I spy’’ to counting whatever there is to count. Cows, red cars, clouds, you name it. It is up to you to fuel their creativity and make something up, establish the game rules and start your diversion. Other than that, singing songs with changing the words and finding new rhymes can be quite amusing for kids assuming they already speak. Telling stories is an old-fashioned yet magical way to make time pass by and it is even better to add a new twist to old stories that your children may already know by heart. Bring magnetic storyboards and sticker books and avoid crayons and other messy toys.
Lean on technology
Even if you are into low-tech parenting and you have strict rules about screens, remember that this is not an ordinary day and that you need to survive somehow. Tablets and Ipads can come very handy when there is nothing else that works. Make sure that batteries are full and upload enough music, cartoons and video games that will keep children occupied. Point out that this is just for today and let them enjoy their trip.
Invest in gadgets
There are plenty of useful travel gadgets that can be quite handy on the road, especially when traveling with kids. For example, hand your kid a waterproof and shockproof camera and buy yourself some precious time. Know that you’ll be having great photos and videos of a journey, from a child’s perspective. Other than that, wireless portable speakers and wireless battery chargers are of great use during family travel.
In conclusion, long-distance traveling with kids can be quite exhausting and there are some things to know before you go but keep in mind that it will end at some point and all of you will be just fine. Be patient and flexible, try to stay positive and calm. Know that this too shall pass and that it will become another family story to remember. They grow up so fast, so make the best out of it by enjoying any given second with your little ones. And take a lot of pictures. One day, you will all treasure these family travel moments!
Guest post by Cate Palmer
Cate is a business consultant by day and a writer by night. She usually writes about parenting and lifestyle related topics. However, her interests are wide and ever-evolving. As a consultant for a reputable storage company in Newcastle, she knows a thing or two about doing business in the personal storage industry. She is also more than happy to share her knowledge. To see what she’s up to next, connect with Cate on Twitter.