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On Monday, May 9, I appeared live on Living Dayton again to share my ways to make vacation travel fun for kids! In case you missed it, here’s the video of my segment. Thanks so much to Living Dayton for inviting me back on the show!
All the tips I shared here on Living Dayton, and more, are here in my latest blog post below. Enjoy! 🙂
Vacationing with kids, especially little ones, can feel like more work than leisure. Between the stuff you have to haul around, travel time, navigating airports and highways, potty and snack breaks, and everything else in between, it can really become a pain. Having traveled with my son a few times before his third birthday, I can tell you what works (like this rolling car seat cart) and what doesn’t (cheap kids’ headphones – just say no) to help make for a much smoother vacation experience!
#1 BRING A VARIETY OF GAMES
Games can go a long way for kids in a car or on a plane. One of my favorite ideas is to pull together several game printables, put them in a binder, include a pencil or dry erase marker, and have a variety of games all in one place.
Here’s a list of the printables I included in the picture above and in the binder I featured on Living Dayton:
- Road Trip I Spy (logos)
- Travel Bingo
- Road Trip Bingo (road signs)
- Airport and Airplane Scavenger Hunt
- License Plates
- Road Sign Scavenger Hunt
- Alphabet Eye Spy
- USA map
Other great, classic games to include are:
Whoever wins the games can choose the next restaurant to eat at, a prize to get at the next gas station or airport terminal, or you can pack small prizes in your purse such as stickers or candy! Which reminds me…
#2 HAVE PLENTY OF SMALL TOYS (AND SURPRISES) ON-HAND
Small toys are easy to pack and transport, and keep little hands busy. Bonus points if they are brand-new and a special treat for the kids to open en route – they’re much more likely to be occupied with them longer! I love the idea of giving them one of these as a surprise once you reach a specific destination (such as the next connecting airport or once you cross the next state line).
Here are some of my favorites:
- Any kind of sticker books (my son loved these ABC and 123 sticker activity books) – or a new pack of stickers and a blank notebook and crayons
- Small building toys such as Brain Flakes, Bunchems or Magnatiles
- Magnetic games (I like the ones by Take ‘n Play) including Matching, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Hangman
- Window gel shapes or clings – great for little ones in the car or on the plane
#3 PACK FUN SNACKS
Snacks are a lifesaver when you can’t quite stop for a meal at their regular lunch time, or you just need to keep the kids happy. To make them more fun, I like filling a bead organizing container like this one with a variety of snacks. It’s fun for the kids, fits perfectly in their lap, gives them some variety (and maybe some treats they don’t regularly get to have!), stays nice and clean, and eliminates having to pack a million different bags or boxes.
If you’re in the car and want snacks available to everyone, it’s great to keep a full basket of treats ready to grab.
When you’re done, a simple trashcan such as this one made with a cereal organizer and plastic bag will make cleanup so much easier!
#4 ELECTRONICS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Yes, I agree that kids probably get too much screen time these days. But do I limit it when we’re travelling? HA! Nope. Embrace the screens, folks. They make the time in the road and on the plane SO much more pleasant for the kids and everyone around you.
Before our first road trip, we invested in these portable DVD players that attach to the back of the headrests. BEST PURCHASE EVER. Once you arrive at the hotel, they can also prop up on a table and serve as an extra video player if the kids want to watch a movie or video when they’re not in the car. Hallelujah.
Of course, you’ll need some headphones to go along with the DVD player, and this pair by LilGadgets that we found have held up GREAT. (We made the mistake of buying a cheap-o pair for our first trip and our son broke apart the wire while we were traveling, so that was fabulous.)
Headphones are also good for another great stand-by – the iPad! Download some new, fun apps or a Disney movie, and I know you’ll get at least a good solid 30 minutes of quiet time. Don’t forget the charger!
Music is also an awesome way to use electronics to pass the time. We absolutely adore The Laurie Berkner Band in our car, and my son loves singing along. Of course, if constant kid music drives you crazy, upload the music to your iPod or iPad (or stream kids’ music on Spotify or Pandora), hand them the headphones, and enjoy the peace and quiet. 🙂
#5 BE PREPARED FOR EMERGENCIES
Thinking ahead to what disasters may happen is KEY to smooth sailing when you’re traveling. Yes, your kid is potty-trained, but what if he has an accident? What if he spills his drink all over himself on the airplane? What if he falls at the rest stop and skins up his knees?
Here’s what I love to pack and keep near me at all times:
- extra sets of clothes for the kids, including socks and underwear
- a plastic grocery bag or two for wet or soiled clothes
- extra diapers, pull-ups, diaper cream
- PLENTY of baby wipes (to also use for wiping hands, face, surfaces, etc.)
- hand sanitzer
Making a couple of small kits to tote just about everything else around in can be a big lifesaver in an emergency! I usually keep a pill container like this one in my purse or carry-on bag in case of emergencies. It contains small things like cough drops, pain reliever, small band-aids, antacids, and allergy medication:
Something else I have in my car at all times is an emergency kit in a wipes container. It’s a must-have for road trips, and it’s amazing how many things will fit inside this little box! Here’s what mine looks like:
Here are the contents:
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand cream
- Floss picks
- Lip balm
- Face wipes
- Small toys, crayons, stickers
- Kids’ snacks
- Advil, cough drops, antibacterial cream, band-aids
- Feminine products
- Cash and coins
I keep this box in the back of my car and have had to dip into it on numerous occasions! It’s been a real lifesaver in a pinch, and is great peace-of-mind when you’re on the road.
Before you leave, it’s also a good idea to make sure you have all important phone numbers and information saved in your phone, including your physicians, insurance information, and emergency contact info.
I hope you enjoyed my tips for making vacation travel FUN with kids! If you’ve used any of these ideas, I’d love to hear about it! 🙂