Labor Day weekend is a few days away, and the Holidays will be here before we know it, which for many families means making plans to travel by planes, trains, and cars. Please see below for tips from parenting expert Sarah Baldwin M.S.Ed., that will help make the trip easier and more enjoyable for kids and their parents.
Follow these tips and pack some of the recommended items in a travel tote, and parents may not hear cries of “Are we there yet?!” every half hour.
- Allow Plenty of Time to Get There
We all know that travel is stressful. Alleviate some of that stress by planning ahead and allowing plenty of time to get there. If you’re traveling by plane, get to the airport at least two hours early to get through security during busy holiday weeks without worrying about missing your flight. If you arrive at your gate early, relax and pull out a game or art supplies from your travel tote to keep kids happily occupied. If you’re traveling by car, plan on frequent rest stops (every hour or two) to let kids go to the bathroom, run around, and blow off steam. Figure out how many 15-minute stops you will need to make along your journey and calculate your departure time to allow plenty of time for rest stops.
- Pack Plenty of Snacks and Water
Pack healthy snacks with lots of protein. Snacks high in protein, like nuts, peanut butter, or hard boiled eggs, will stave off the crash that comes after consuming high-carb sugary snacks and can lead to meltdowns. I think all parents would agree that there are few things more stressful than a child having a temper-tantrum on a plane! And don’t forget to keep your child well hydrated during flights, which are notoriously dry. Dehydration can lead to headaches and crankiness.
- Pack cleaning items and trash bags
Be sure to pack Wet Wipes for any sticky fingers or spills, along with freezer bags and some empty containers for leftover foods or things discovered on the way that need to be saved for later investigation by a child.
- Play Games
Share the driving games you remember from your own childhood with your children. There is the classic “20 Questions” in which players try to guess what someone is thinking of by asking no more than 20 yes-or-no questions. And there’s the “Alphabet Game” in which players try to spot each letter of the alphabet in sequence while driving down the highway—on signs, license plates, and billboards. The first person to get to Z wins.
On longer drives or when traveling by play, you can pull out your family’s travel tote filled with things like magnetic puzzles, books, and art supplies to keep children more quietly active.
- Listen to Audio Book Stories
There are lots of wonderful audio books of stories for children of all ages. The storyteller Jim Weiss offers a wide variety of stories for preschoolers (fairy tales and animal stories) to stories of Greek Mythology and King Arthur Stories for older children. The whole family can listen while traveling by car, or a child can listen to an audio device with headphones when traveling by plane, while children are being introduced to classic literature.
Allow your child to be quiet with her own thoughts when she is calm. Time spent looking out the window and daydreaming are healthy activities and eliminate stress. Allow your child to sleep, when he is sleepy. A well-rested child will be much more cheerful upon arrival.
- Top Toy / Games Suggestions
- Travel Bingo – $9.95
- Modeling Beeswax – $19.95
- Organic Beeswax Crayons – $19.95
- String Games (Cat’s Cradle) – $4.95
- Quick-to-Knit Scarf Kit – $19.95
- Tegu Pocket Pouch – $24.95
- Children’s Card Games Set – $8.95
- Playing Cards – Frog & Hedgehog – $4.95
- Rainbow Ball Kids Knitting Kit – $15.95
- Ferby Colored Pencils – $24.95
- Eco-Art Pad – $10.95
- Storytelling CDs – $14.96
- Wooden Magnetic Tile Puzzle – $39.95
- Travel Bingo Car Game – $9.95
- Fairy Queen Card Game – $7.95
- Fair Trade Hacky Sacks – $5.95 (Great for blowing off steam at rest stops!)