For those who might not know, I am the mother of three, stepmother of two, and grandmother of eight. My husband and I LOVE to travel; and we have covered many miles over the years, both with and without our children. Many of the same rules apply.
- First of all, check and recheck your travel plans. We find that reviewing ALL our plans a couple of days before the trip is a good idea—no matter how many times we have gone over them. For instance, we confirm with family what time we are arriving and where everyone is staying. We look at all the airline and show tickets to ensure that we are booked for the correct dates and times. It might seem redundant, but we inevitably find a detail we overlooked.
- Educate your family on your destination. A children’s book about the city or country that you’re visiting covers the highlights. Even your pre-teen or teenager might take the time to leaf through a colorful book with great photographs. The more your children know before you go, the more meaningful the trip will be for them.
- Hunger causes smiles to fade, so bring snacks no matter the age of your children and make sure the snacks are easily accessible. If you are flying, check the TSA or airline website to find out what can and cannot be taken on your flight.
- Also remember that your very young child’s ears are probably going to hurt when you fly. If possible, feed her during take-off or landing. Sippy cups work well to help older children swallow.
- The element of surprise can bring hours of peace and quiet. Secretly pack movies, books, puzzles, games, or perhaps download something on your computer/iPad for your child to watch. A variety of new activities will keep him engaged and thus lower your stress.
- Pack smart! Pack what you cannot find at your destination and leave behind the unnecessary things. For example, if you are taking a cruise with small children, be sure to pack their medications. It’s tough to find children’s liquid medications on a cruise ship. However, their medications are probably not a good use of your space if you are going to Grandma’s. Adjust your packing to your destination.
No matter where you are going and how much you plan, you will encounter the unexpected. Just remember that your family will be at this point in life only once and that you will never have this opportunity again. You will be glad that you invested your time and energy into making memories. Make every moment count.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.