Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tips for traveling with kids

The phrase traveling with kids sends some people into a fit of terror.  No, no -- not that!  Anything but whiny, crying kids in the back seat asking "are we there yet???"  In fact some just avoid travel altogether until the little ones are older.

While our vacations have vastly changed since becoming parents, we still think that taking family trips each year are very important.  We've learned a few tricks that have worked for us, so now I'm passing them onto you.

1. The car DVD is your friend.  I know, I know -- what a luxury.  "When I was a kid, they just threw us in the back of the station wagon --with no seat belts!"  However, this is not 1984.  It's 2011.  We have car DVDs.  And they rock.  Now, you just have the kids fighting over who gets to pick the next movie!

2. Snacks. Always have snacks! Nothing will keep a kid happier on a trip than having snacks readily available.  I "splurge" on vacation trips and buy snacks I will not let the kids normally have like fruit snacks and Pringles. 

A trip to Gladwin, Michigan.  S'MORES!
3. Bring activities to keep them busy.  We always have a bag of games, coloring books, etc.  Especially for a plane ride. 

4. Be flexible!  Never assume that everything will go "according to schedule."  Work with your kids' energy level.  Full of energy?  Take them to a park to burn some off.  Tired out?  Let them have a nap.

Jumping on the bed is allowed. It is a good way to expend extra energy!
5. Lodging is more important than ever.  Before kids, my hubby and I could stay almost anywhere overnight.  Seedy motel, high-scale hotel, tent, bed & breakfast, etc.  After kids, we really have to think through what is going to work for the kids.  Do we need a kitchenette?  Will there be enough room in that hotel room?  We are often opting for more space but less luxury because we know this will be best for us.  This is often a cabin, staying with relatives, or maybe a cheaper hotel with suite rooms.

Double JJ Resort in Michigan.  The kids were so excited when they got to sleep in the loft in the cabin.

6.  It's vacation -- let loose a little.  The kids will appreciate a loosening of the reins.  We usually buy the kids some trinkets and trash that we would NEVER buy at home.  It's fun.  The kids love the crap.

My son with two -- yes, TWO -- light sabers (you can't have a battle with only one!) at Hersheypark.
7. Assume your kids will whine, tantrum, be horrible. You are taking them out of their normal routine, to a place they are unfamiliar, and then walking them around all day.  This is a recipe for disaster.  Instead of yelling at the kids when this happens, just breathe and remember that you are on vacation, too.  If you need to bribe them to get them through the next activity -- do it.  It's vacation -- normal rules do not need to apply!

Williamsburg, VA.  We tried this when the whining became too much, but the park wouldn't let us leave her there.

Double JJ Resort in Michigan.  Daddy is in timeout this time.
8. Bring friends.  We take one or more trips a year where we meet up with friends or family.  Some with kids, some without.  This way, we can actually do a couple of "adults only" activities while one or more of the adults stays back with the kids.

My brother (Uncle J.), daughter, son and Hubby in Hocking Hills, Ohio.
9. Let the kids help plan.  Clearly, this depends on their age, but even my 4-year-old was able to give his opinion on whether or not he wanted to go to Dinosaur World (that was a resounding YES!). 

Trains were a winning selection in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
10. Kids think vacations are cool.  You don't have to take them to Disney World every time. As long as they are going somewhere overnight with the family -- it's a vacation.  That is COOL.  That is FUN.  Keep that mindset, and you'll have fun, too!

Daughter at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Fransisco.  My hubby kept quoting from So I Married an Axe Murderer.
Enjoy a few pictures more from some trips we've taken with the kids.

We met up with hubby's cousin and family in Hershey, PA. 

The little man gets a piggyback ride in Washington DC.

Chinatown, San Fran.  Yes, we bought her that pink parasol.  Cute, huh?


kisatrtle said...

An awesome post and great pictures

Karen said...

Looks like you all know how to get out and have fun! :> Great tips and I agree, it doesn't have to be a trip of a lifetime, every time. I think I hear a trip to the coast calling our names!

Missus Wookie said...

We love traveling - a bit of wandering lifts the spirits and yep with the kids is challenging but fun. Great shots, thanks for sharing.

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