When thinking of children’s party ideas, travelling long distances in the car with younger children does not come to mind. In fact, dread is a more common response as we try to think of a variety of answers to the question, “Are we there yet?” However, travelling with kids can be pleasant with a little bit of planning and preparation. Just as a party takes planning to be smooth and fun so does a vacation. Who said traveling can’t be a party?
There are three things to keep in mind when planning a trip with kids:
Expect to entertain your children. Children are not going to stop needing your attention just because they can see you sitting in the front seat. The added restraints that come with vehicle or plane travel will assuredly cause them to need you more. So prepare your attitude and your arsenal. Thinking that you will be able to kick back and enjoy that book you bought 9 months ago that has been collecting dust on your nightstand is not realistic, but on the other hand, you should not expect to be able to write a book of travelling with kids horror stories after your trip either.
2. Prepare Your Arsenal
This is where preparation pays off. Before you leave on the trip prepare things for your children to do. Whether each child has his/her own bag of activities or you keep a centrally located box of attention-diverting activities is up to you, but prepare, prepare, prepare. The added time spent before you leave home will be worth it! Collect things for the kids to do according to their age. There are many free resources on the internet that you can use. Print coloring pages, games, interactive stories, travel games and buy a new box of crayons or colored pencils for the children to use. Brush up on hand plays and kid’s songs or buy some new CD’s or DVD’s for them to listen to. Have them catch up on thank you notes or just write a letter to grandma. Go to the local Dollar Store and grab whatever you can find-pipe cleaners, lacing cards, magnetic letters, and travel games. Throw a baking sheet with sides in the car to keep dice, jacks, and marbles from rolling everywhere. Go to the local library and borrow audio books, picture books, or educational books about things they may see along the way. Pack snacks, snacks, and more snacks! Whatever you do, go loaded for bear especially if you are traveling a considerable distance.
Be available for your kids. If at all possible, switch between driving, sitting in the front passenger seat, and sitting in the back with your children. For all the times you’ve had to put them off because you were busy doing something at home, you’ll now have the time and opportunity to spend some quality time with them and actually enjoy them while you play and show them the things you brought along. If you are going to a non-kid-friendly destination, these things will be a life saver while you’re there.
Even with all of these tools, a tear-free trip is not guaranteed, but the chances of arriving at your destination still possessing your sanity is a distinct possibility. Truly, travelling can be like a party both for you and your kids if you go prepared and expecting to have a good time.