12 Things to Remember When Traveling with Kids

Traveling with children always sounds like a great idea until they get tired, hungry, or irritated with each other. Children aren’t nearly as patient as their parents (generally) and need the car downtime filled with educational and/or entertaining activities. Road trips with kids can start out fun and exciting but can quickly deteriorate into boredom and “are we there yet?” chats that puts stress on everyone. 

Anticipating the fun – and the dull – parts of the trip will help you and your family progress through them more easily. However, before starting out on the road, preparing your vehicle to be sure it’s in optimal condition as well as securing cheap car insurance that offers the right coverage for you will be one less thing for you to worry about.

  1. Research where you’ll be visiting ahead of time. When traveling with kids, you’ll want to be sure that when you stop, whether it’s for a day or for a week, they will have things to do. Jot down all of the family-friendly events and activities so you won’t be stuck finding something age-appropriate. 

  2. Don’t overpack. Most of us have the urge to pack more things than we’ll actually need. Your kids will be excited about the trip and want to take every toy, every stuffed animal to keep them company. Let them choose a practical number of toys and explain that the rest will be waiting for them when you return home.
  3. Maintain as much patience as possible. Children don’t care if they have a giant meltdown in front of strangers. When things go wrong (and they will) keep your frustration and irritation in check and let patience win out. Practice breathing and remind yourself that kids wear their emotions on their sleeves and get tired easily.
  4. Give yourself lots of time. Time is like money in many ways. One of them is – you often need more of both than you first think you do! When traveling with children, remember that they will want to stop to go to the bathroom or just need to stretch their legs.

  5. Get them interested. Whatever your route, you’ll likely be passing through locations that are interesting in terms of wildlife, scenery, or activities. Endless driving is enough to make anyone stir crazy, including children, so make a point to stop and smell the roses.
  6. Talk to them about your expectations. Going on vacation is not a license to misbehave or be disrespectful. Have a conversation with your children, age-appropriate, as to your expectations of their behavior in restaurants, at hotels, at the pool, etc.
  7. Keep the snacks handy. Kids are eating machines. The quickest way to sour the mood of a family road trip is for bellies to start growling. Pack a cooler of favorite and healthy snacks and be alert to the cues that the kids are hungry.
  8. Ask about child discounts.  Even if you don’t see the discounts posted in a brochure or on a menu, it never hurts to ask about child discounts. Overall, they could save you a ton of money and allow for other activities or luxuries while on vacation. Ask for discounts on attraction entrance fees, transportation, tours, guides, restaurants, etc.

  9. Manage your expectations. You want to have a great time with your family, of course, but remember that things will go wrong. At some point, someone (maybe even you) will get cranky and need a time out. Don’t be disappointed when things go awry, work toward getting through it and starting fresh after a good night’s sleep.
  10. Don’t jam in too much activity. Over-scheduling will not only pull your kids into stress; it will create stress in you, too. You will end up thinking about the next activity and getting there as opposed to enjoying the current one. Too many activities will make the kids overtired, which in turn makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep.
  11. Have fun! When you are enjoying yourself, you set a good example for the kids to follow. Taking pictures and video is important, but don’t let that overwhelm your time with them in the present moment. 

  12. Pack entertainment. While ideally, it would do every parent’s heart good to have their kids gaze out the car window and sit in awe of the landscape, it’s not realistic. Think about what your kids love to do and then provide alternate options, as well.
  • Favorite and extra DVD’s for a DVD player (rent one if necessary)
  • Handheld games
  • Coloring books and books for reading
  • iPad and iPod

Traveling with children might be challenging, but it’s also well worth it. You’ll be spending quality time that you and they will remember for decades to come.