There’s still time this summer to hit the road or take to the skies for a family trip. Whether it’s a short visit to grandma’s house or a trip across the country, traveling with children can be challenging. When embarking on a family trip, consider selecting a destination that’s geared toward children.
Whether you are traveling by car, plane, train or bus, the key to an enjoyable trip with your child is to plan ahead. Advanced planning will ensure a successful, fun vacation and reduce the stress associated with traveling as a family.
Here are some things you can do to ensure you and your children have an enjoyable and memorable experience:
- Talk to your child about the trip. Tell your child where you are going, who you will see and how long you will travel. Order brochures and get visual aids to help explain the trip to your child.
- Visit the library and check out children’s music tapes, books on tape and DVDs for portable DVD players.
- Allow your child to choose the toys he or she wants to take on the trip.
- Create a travel art kit. Fill a large zip-top bag with art supplies, such as crayons, stickers, paper and coloring books.
- Pack plenty of healthy snacks for the trip. Keep in mind Transportation Security Administration (TSA) restrictions for items you plan to take on a plane. Visit the TSA website at www.tsa.gov/311.
- Make goody bags. Collect items from dollar stores or party stores such as small toys, games and snacks to surprise your child when boredom or irritability set in.
- Keep your child’s sleeping and eating routine as normal as possible. Children will behave better if they follow their regular routines.
If you’re taking a trip by car with small children, remember to allow extra time to reach your destination. Also, stop often to let your child stretch or use the bathroom. You can plan fun stops along the way such as visiting a park.
If you’ll be flying to your destination, carry a current photo of your child in case he or she wanders away from you. Plan activities during the flight in 10-minute segments. This is the approximate length of a child’s attention span. Be sure to bring enough activities to cover delays and time in the airport.
-LaKesha Knighten, Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin, Parklawn Family Resource Center supervisor.