The holidays are approaching, and we’ll soon be upon the most traveled holiday weekend of the year: Thanksgiving. December holidays also result in many hours on the road, in airports, and on trains. While traveling to see loved ones can be fun for kids, it is also almost always stressful for parents. It only gets worse when holiday traffic means extra hours of driving at a snail’s pace. So, what can you do? Here are our best survival tips for family travel:
Plan some wiggle room into your trip if at all possible. If that means spacing out your rest stops or picking a flight with a little bit of a layover, that extra time can be a lifesaver. Your kids need a break from the car or the airplane to run and move around. So, make sure they get it by planning ahead.
You can also plan to travel when your kids will be napping or sleeping. Sure, that might mean that you have to drive at night or change the start time to one that’s not as convenient for you, personally. But, as any parent knows, there’s nothing like a peacefully quiet car or not having to deal with dirty looks on an airplane because your kids are being too loud. If your kids are sleeping, they’re quiet!
Before leaving, and at rest stops, turn yourself into a personal trainer for 10 minutes and make your kids move! Here are some ideas:
• Chase your kids around a grassy area.
• Do jumping jacks together.
• Time them to see how fast they can hop on one foot from one end of a grassy area to the other end.
• Play a quick game of tag.
Your kids will love the chance to get some exercise and it will make the rest of your trip much more pleasant.
For longer road trips, plan some fun games and entertainment to bring along. If possible, get something special and new for the occasion. For example, you might buy school-age children new books to read, workbooks, Mad Libs, or magnetic board games. Younger children can be entertained with special car window markers, board books, lacing activities, and more. Of course, you can always factor in a little more screen time while traveling and have them watch their favorite show or movie.
You’ll all need a break from each other after a long road trip or time traveling by air. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, make sure you schedule some kid-free time for yourself. If you’re staying in a hotel, why not hire a hotel nanny so that your kids can have fun while you take a much-deserved break? Or, if you’re visiting family, plan some family outings all together and then a separate parents-only outing. While you take your break, have your kids stay with a family member. This break will help you recover and prepare yourself for the return trip.
Family travel isn’t easy. But, if you use the above tricks and tips, you’ll find that it is doable.