Think back to your last road trip. How long did it take for your children to grow bored of colouring books and turn to poking each other instead?
Traveling with children comes with a lot of perks and a lot of challenges. On the one hand, you get to enjoy the wonder on your children’s faces. On the other hand, you’ll probably have to threaten to turn the car around (or sit in the hotel all day) when they don’t behave.
Make your vacation an actual vacation by keeping your children happy, entertained, and well-behaved with these tips:
1. Avoid tight and stressful situations.
Children like time to explore. They don’t like the panic of pushing through crowds to catch a last-minute flight, and they don’t like hurrying from one attraction to another. Take things slow, and give your little ones some extra time to explore their surroundings.
Do not get into situations where you rush around in a panic. The children will see and sense your mood, and your fear or frustration will upset them.
To avoid the resulting tantrum, arrive at the airport at least an hour early. Spend enough time at each location so you feel relaxed instead of rushed. If you have fun and stay relaxed, your children will probably have fun, too.
2. Book a large, comfortable hotel room.
Many children feel stressed or lost when they leave home, so you need to find accommodations that feel homey. A cramped hotel room with cheap seats and a broken A/C simply won’t do. Find quality accommodations that’ll make your family feel right at home.
3. Give your children activities that’ll last the whole road trip or flight.
If you have to drive or fly for several hours, one colouring book won’t quite cut it. Your children will need plenty of other activities if you want them to stay occupied. So in addition to the colouring books, make sure you bring some of the following:
- Movies (with a laptop if you don’t have a DVD player in your car)
- Sing-along music playlists
- Travel games (with prizes if necessary)
- Video games on a mobile device
- An inexpensive camera
Let your children use the camera when you visit different attractions. Allowing your children use their creativity will keep them entertained (and hopefully well-behaved) during the entire trip.
4. Make sure your children dress comfortably.
If you go to a cold climate without blankets in the car or gloves for playing in the snow, you’ll get a lot of complaints from your children—and for good reason. They need a vacation, too, and if they feel too hot or too cold, then they can’t relax.
Younger children don’t always know about the terrain or the temperature where you want to go, and they might decide to pack toys instead of useful items like shoes. If you can trust your children to follow a checklist, give them one detailing all the things they should put in their bag. If you can’t trust them due to age or mischievousness, pack for them.
5. Don’t leave a lot of downtime.
Children love constant activities, so make sure you fill your vacation days with plenty of diversions. You should leave time to stop and rest at meals, but you should always go places where your children have entertainment options. For example, you can sit back and relax at the beach while your children play in the sand.
Don’t go back to the hotel unless you know that everyone needs a nap. If you want your children to stay happy, you’ll need to keep entertaining them with different activities.
6. Keep sunburns, illnesses, and bug bites at bay.
Few things can ruin your children’s days faster than bodily pain or discomfort. Make sure you take plenty of pain medication, bug spray, sunblock, and vitamin C tablets with you.
You’ll need the vitamin C to boost immunity (use as directed to avoid an overdose). Don’t forget to reapply bug spray and sunblock once every hour or two hours, at the least.
7. Get plenty of rest.
Everyone feels cranky when they have to walk around after a poor night’s sleep, but children will feel especially cranky. Make sure you arrive back at the hotel with enough time to not only get 8 hours of sleep, but take the time to get ready for bed and fall asleep as well.
Your children probably feel a lot of excitement when they travel, so it’ll take them a long time to fall asleep. Factor that time into your planning to ensure they sleep for 8 hours—not just lie in bed for 8 hours.
As long as you follow these tips and book a comfortable hotel, your children should stay happy and well-behaved for the entire trip. Happy travels!