Hopping into the car to travel for a vacation can be an exciting and joyful experience for any family. But at the same time, it can be challenging especially if you are traveling with younger children.
There are general tips that any traveler can follow such as stopping to stretch, stopping at safe and well-lit places and keeping the doors locked in unfamiliar areas. However, when it comes to traveling with children there are many other things to consider, especially when it comes to packing.
Keep reading to learn our top 12 tips for traveling with children.
Tips for Traveling With Children
- Pack comfort objects AKA “loveys”. Children often need items that make them feel safe. Examples include your child’s favorite pillow, a soft blanket and their favorite stuffed animal or doll to make the ride a bit more comfortable for them. Also, let them ride in their pajamas with easy on and off shoes.
- Pack for happy tummies. Younger kids are grazers – they want to eat all day long! It can be hard (and costly) to keep stopping for snacks and food, so having a snack basket packed is usually a good idea especially for longer trips. Remember that not every food group holds up well on the road. Be sure to pack items that are not a choking hazard such as food pouches for toddlers and babies, Go-Gurt, applesauce, puffs for babies, Cheerios for older kids, bananas and so on. We also recommend packing small lunch boxes for each child in a Bento box for lunch on the go. Just make sure to have extra napkins for clean up!
- Pack for bathroom stops. Pack the items that you may need for bathroom emergencies such as pull-ups for toddlers and extra diapers with easy access. Bring a roll of toilet paper and some toilet seat linings for rest stops that may not be fully stocked for your children. Always keep hand sanitizer in the car as well to guard against potentially harmful germs you could pick up when you take a bathroom break.
- Pack easy play items. These are toys that are not too loud and distracting for the driver but which will keep your kids occupied for more than just a few minutes.
- Buy a few new magazines or activity books for older kids
- Pack busy books for the younger children (Amazon has some great felt busy books).
- Bring coloring books and crayons, dry erase workbooks, Wonder Colors, etc. for easy art projects that won’t get too messy.
- Use baskets for easy organization. Place a basket next to each child filled with their comfort items, a few snacks and of course, their “car ride” activities. Ask them to pack a couple of quiet items for the basket and then surprise them by adding a few new books and crafts for them to explore during the trip.
- Prepare an activity binder. Surf Pinterest and the Internet for age-appropriate worksheets that are fun and print them out to create a binder full of work just for them (this is great for those who love to color or do activity pages). Purchase velcro dots and Crayola Twistables and velcro each crayon to the inside of the binder. This keeps all of their fun pages and crayons together in one place and helps them keep track of the colors without losing them (thanks to the handy velcro!).
- Pack for emergencies. Have a bag full of emergency items that you may need for your children. Bring any medications that are needed, inhalers, epi-pens and so on, and have all of these items in one place that everyone in the car knows where to locate.
- Pack for unplanned events. Since each child may have their own suitcase, pack one bag for the whole family that has a quick change of clothes and PJs and a toothbrush for unplanned overnight stops. This prevents you from having to take too many bags out for just one night. This is also helpful for any bathroom mishaps or emergencies.
- Brush up on tried-and-test car games. While you can’t necessarily “pack” these, it’s a good idea to think about the car games you enjoyed as a child such as “I Spy” and the punch bug game. If you didn’t take many road trips growing up, this resource has some excellent suggestions.
- Pack the electronics (if that’s your thing). Let’s face it, packing electronics has become a must-have for many people these days. You might consider bringing:
- A DVD player or an iPad – be sure to pack a variety of movies or add new appropriate apps to your iPad for the kids.
- Headphones for your devices so other family members can still travel in peace.
- Nothing at all for a “device-free” vacation
- Prepare some ideas for calming the kiddos. There are several ways you can calm the kids down on a long car ride:
- Diffuse some oils with a car diffuser or just add a calming oil such as lavender to a cotton ball and place in the car vents.
- Play sounds of nature and request 20 minutes of silence so everyone can tame down (you can even make this a game to see who stays quiet the longest).
- Pack a car seat pillow to ensure comfort and head support when the kids doze off for a nap.
- Remember to enjoy the trip. Traveling is never easy on anyone, but especially when little ones are involved. While the process and trip can be a bit overwhelming, you should remember that it’s a great opportunity for family bonding time. Siblings will remember arguing with each other in the backseat and will also remember drawing pictures together as well. Families will laugh at funny sights and remember the beautiful landscapes they pass by.
Make sure to plan ahead and pack the essentials for traveling with children. And remember to book your stay with Footbridge Motel in Ogunquit, Maine where you will get to visit this beautiful coastal city where there’s no shortage of things to do for you and your family.