As summer rolls to a close (frankly, too soon), it’s the perfect time to start taking weekend trips with the family! We know that traveling with young children can be both exciting and exhausting. Here are some tips to help streamline the experience for everyone partaking in the adventure:
- Plan ahead: Start researching your destination early and begin to put some ideas into an itinerary. It’s important to look for locations with family-friendly attractions and activities that align with your kids’ ages and interests. What will the weather look like at that time of year? Are there a lot of seasonal businesses that may be closed? What are your must-haves: Amenities? Hotel vs private rental? Close to restaurants or attractions?
- Pack wisely: Essential items like diapers, wipes, spare clothes, snacks and entertainment like toys, books, games, etc. are a must when traveling with young kids. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen for warm-weather destinations (yes, even after summer is officially over!) Also, consider packing a small first aid kit for any boo-boos collected along the way.
- Choose child-friendly accommodations: Explore all of your options! Look for accommodations that appeal to families with young children: play areas, swimming pools or childproofed rooms. Having an environment that’s conducive to both you and your littles for the duration of your trip can make all the difference. Nothing cures a midday slump better than a quick swim in the pool!
- Stick to a routine: When possible, keep meal and nap times consistent throughout your travels. These familiar routines will help to mitigate potential crankiness and the occasional meltdown. Familiarity can help children feel more secure and settle into a new environment — bringing their blankie, pillow, favorite cup or portable playard from home is a simple way to add ease.
- Be flexible: While routines are important, unexpected situations are going to sometimes pop up — that's life! Being flexible with schedules and adapting when plans go awry is the key to success. One way to embrace the unexpected is to try something new! Trying new snacks or activities could be a great way to encourage your little to accept that change can be a good thing.
- Break up travel time: If you have a long, winding journey ahead, try breaking it up into smaller, more manageable chunks. Plan to take frequent breaks where your littles can stretch their legs, use the bathroom, and burn off extra energy. Jumping jacks or a quick game of catch are both great ways to keep moving during your pitstops. This may tucker your little ones out enough to encourage quiet time when you get back on the road.
- Involve them in the planning: Get your kids excited about the upcoming trip! Include them in the conversations around destinations, activities and attractions. Building excitement and anticipation is all part of the fun! They’ll feel more engaged and invested in the trip from the start and have something to look forward to.
- Keep them entertained: Bring activities and games to keep your kiddos entertained — there’s bound to be downtime! Consider portable electronics, coloring books, puzzles or audiobooks. Engaging them with options throughout each leg of the trip can help keep boredom at bay and give you more flexibility for quiet time.
- Be mindful of safety: By taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that everyone stays safe throughout every step of the journey. Keeping an eye on your kids in crowded areas (we know, they can be quick), and teaching them about basic safety rules are both simple ways to keep the whole family safe. Have emergency contact information ready to go at any point should it ever be needed during your trip.
- Enjoy the moment: At the end of the day, these weekend trips are for creating fun, long-lasting memories together as a family. Embrace the joyful moments, even if things don't go exactly as planned. Take plenty of pictures and cherish the time spent with your little ones.
As always, each child is unique and has individual needs so find what works best for you and your family. Safe and happy travels!