If you’ve ever traveled with children, you are probably pretty familiar with all the special needs and demands of the little ones. “Are we there yet” is a question that will stand the test of time, no matter the advances of technology. Children increasingly are using this technology to pass the time on a family vacation; but just because the kids seem content playing on a Nintendo DS or iPad, that doesn’t mean they should spend the whole family vacation occupied by technology. In fact, you will get the kids to focus on the actual destination just a little bit with these five must-have items for any family vacation.
A solid plan
Photo by whitecat sg
If you have a teen, it might be good to involve them in some of the trip planning. They might enjoy the family vacation more if they feel they’ve had some input. But if you have younger children, even though you might be the type of traveler who likes to just go with the flow, having as much structure in the plan as possible with a toddler or baby will pay dividends. Do schedule naps and breaks, and do have some restaurant stops in mind. It’s never fun being on the road with whiny children demanding food, especially when there is no town with good restaurants in sight.
Some yummy food
Photo by valiantness
If you’re traveling in your own country, finding familiar food at a convenience store or grocery won’t be a problem. But if you ever find yourself in another country, the comforts of home will be vital, especially if your children are picky eaters. You’d be surprised how far a jar of peanut butter from home will stretch on a three-week trip to Europe. Trust me: a jar of peanut butter and a spoon is a lifesaver, even without kids! But even if traveling just a couple of hours from home, having food in the hotel room for the kids will keep them (and you) happy.
Knowledge of the destination
Photo by Peter Morgan
Whether you are traveling to a big city like New York, New Orleans or San Francisco, enjoying a hiking adventure or considering traveling to a different country, your children won’t have a clue what to expect. Give them a crash course on the future destination before you leave home. If you plan to see art masterpieces, visit a local museum to get them ready for what to expect. Watch a movie set in the city, prepare versions of a place’s traditional dishes to eat, read a book set there or show them pictures online of what to expect. Even in the United States, there are regions that have their own unique cultures that might be totally different than what your kids know at home.
Photo by longzijun
As parents, we want to show our children the world when we travel. But children need their comfort items. For babies and toddlers, it might be a favorite blanket, pacifier or stuffed animal. Even older children like to bring their favorite stuffed “friends” along to show them the adventure. Yes, most children now play video games and watch movies, but sometimes they do still play with traditional games and toys. Our son has played on my iPhone for years in the car. But one of his favorite activities when we travel, especially if it’s a road trip, is to have a notebook and box of crayons to draw what he sees. He loves to draw and be creative. So this is a good way to keep him occupied. And, when we visit art museums, he enjoys sketching what he sees in his notebook.
Photo by urbanfoodie33
These days, everyone has a camera for taking selfies, pictures of their food and even video clips to put on YouTube. My 7-year-old son doesn’t watch cartoons on TV; he devours videos posted on YouTube. When we travel, he loves nothing more than to use my iPhone or his digital camera to take pictures and videos of what he experiences. I enjoy listening to him narrate his videos on the streets of New York or New Orleans, telling his “viewers” everything he is observing.
What are some of your ‘must-haves’ when you travel with the kids?