Creating new experiences for your kids is so fun. Traveling is one of the best ways to give your kids experiences. Whether by car or plane, there’s lots to see and explore. The hard part is getting there. Long trips with children can be challenging but they can also be fun, if you plan and pack well.
Kids need clothes. Packing suitcases with kids can be a bit overwhelming. How much to take and how to organize all of it are the biggest questions. Take an outfit for each day and then a couple of extra. If you’re visiting a place with laundry available, you can cut down on this. Try not to buy new clothes for travel. It’s no fun having a miserable kid because the new shirt is itchy. To organize the clothes can be a bit tricky. If each person in the family has their own bag then it’s easy. If you’re combining, it can get a bit messy. A solution for this is to have bags, or packing cubes in the suitcase. Have each kid put their items in a bag, this can be a nice thin fabric bag, a packing cube or just a plastic bag from the grocery store. The bags create some division in the suitcase. When you arrive at your destination, the kids can easily find their stuff and put their items in a drawer or in a corner on the floor.
Kids want entertainment. Trips are long and we want to keep the kids entertained. The key here is to have some balance. Pack enough entertainment for the kids that they have a break for travel. Don’t pack so much that they never look away from their toys or movies. A backpack for each kid to carry can be enough entertainment for any trip, even a long car trip. Let them pack the bag. If you’re traveling to a location where backpack items will possibly get left behind, create a backpack inventory on a note card. This helps the kids find everything and Grandma won’t have to mail anything.
Kids are messy. Keep wipes handy in your travel bag or car. If traveling by car have a trash bag handy for the kids to use. Empty the trash at every stop. Have kids put away items into their backpacks at every stop. This will help maintain the space.
Kids like to explore. Traveling is an opportunity “stop and smell the roses”. Even if you’re traveling to Grandma’s for the fifth time this summer, stop and explore. Kids enjoy experiencing more than seeing. If you are driving by the World’s Biggest Truck Stop, then take a few minutes to go inside. It may not be something you want to see, but your kids will think it’s awesome, especially if you really play it up. Welcome centers are also great places to stop and explore. Many of them have brochures for the state you’re visiting, which can create more excitement for the little ones. If you’re in airports on your trip, walk around and explore. Kids love to moving conveyors and escalators. Sit by a window where you can see planes landing and taking off, or just pulling in to unload and load. This may all seem old hat to us but kids love it.
Kids need to eat. When traveling, having healthy snacks and drinks available is very important. Nagging hungry kids are the worst. Letting your kids have snacks in their backpacks is helpful. You can restock their stash when you stop for meals or at other communicated intervals. Snacks in the backpack gives the kids independence, plus it keeps them from constantly asking you for something to eat.