Hitting the road looks a little different when you’re traveling with kids and grandkids. The highs are higher, and the lows…well, they can be a little lower, chances are your patience will be tested! Preparation is key to maximizing the amount of joy – and rest – you can expect to have when you’re on the road with little ones.
Stock up on activities for travel time and restaurants, some of our favorites include:
- Dry erase boards
- Deck of cards for Go Fish as well as Uno + these gadgets for helping smaller hands hold their cards
- Rainbow loom for bracelet making
- LCD Writing Tablet for doodles and Tic Tac Toe
Having little treats in all your bags will help you buy time when you most need it. Think of things that are easy to pack, feel special and take time to enjoy – lollipops and gum are great options. For road trips or a long flight pack a bento box with fruit, nuts and crackers.
Engage your little travelers in making memories – this will anchor them in gratitude, which can be especially hard to do when you’re getting spoiled on the road.
- Journals: Let each kid pick out a new notepad and set of pencils for the trip. Challenge them to jot down some notes at the end of each day about what they did. They can add illustrations and details to help them hold onto the memories.
- Disposable Cameras: Disposable cameras still exist, and they even make under-water ones for water getaways. Kids loooove the autonomy of their own camera, and when you drop it off to be developed, they get to relive their vacation memories.
- Try New Things: Encourage kids to try something new on the trip – something that will attach meaning and a lifelong memory — a new food, sport or activity. They will follow your lead, let them see and follow you!
Most kids won’t appreciate fine dining, but there are some ways you can make it fun for them and enjoyable for you!
- Hit Happy Hour: Enjoy cocktails and apps while they eat dinner and as they wrap it up order your entrees to go.
- Scout the Menu: Look at the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time. If they have a kids’ menu, then you know it’s a place that welcomes kids. No menu online? Check Instagram, Yelp and Google for reviews and photos.
- Picky Eaters: If your kids are picky eaters, save time and money by feeding them at home and then get them a dessert while you dine.
Packing with kids can be tough – you want to be prepared for almost anything, without overdoing it. Having laundry where you’re staying – or the option to drop off a load for same-day return – certainly makes things easier, but so do these tips!
- Packing cubes, like this set from Calpak, are a great way to keep the family’s items organized.
- Rent – in most cities you can rent kid equipment such as car seats, highchairs, cribs, toys, scooters and strollers.
- First Aid – be prepared for skinned knees, splinters, bug bites and fevers by stocking a packing cube with what you might need. The blog Trekaroo does a great job summarizing a list of what you might want to pack. On the more extreme side of things, do some research ahead of time and make a note in your phone with the address and phone number of the nearest urgent care and Emergency Room – chances are you won’t need them, but it always helps to feel prepared.
As much as you prepare, you have to accept the reality that when you’re traveling with kids things will pop up. Schedule downtime each day for you and them, a little extra rest when you’re on the road can make a world of difference.