Last weekend we took our first trip of the summer – a three hour drive from Fort Worth to Austin. I say three hours because that is the estimated drive time according to Google maps, but there is no setting for “traveling with kids” to get a more accurate time frame. This was our first trip with our nine-month-old, Sophia, and I was a little nervous how she was going to handle being in the car that long. Lucky for her, our six-year-old made sure that we had plenty of stops along the way. I can now recommend two very lovely rest stops on I-35.
Planning in advance definitely helped make this trip more enjoyable. I packed a picnic basket full of snacks, not only for the car ride down, but also for our stay in the hotel. My older daughter, Isabella, loves to snack on cherry tomatoes, grapes, and oranges – all great options that travel well and can be eaten on-the-go. We also packed pretzels, juice boxes, sunflower seeds, and water bottles. Things that don’t need to be refrigerated are obviously ideal. I helped Isabella pack coloring books, an activity magazine, and small (quiet) toys to keep her busy during the drive. She loved having her own “suitcase” that she was responsible for.
5 Tips for Traveling with Kids:
- Get the kids involved! Allow them to help you plan and pack. Talk about what the weather will be like where you are going, and if they are old enough, encourage them to pick out outfits they would like to bring. Sometimes looking forward to a trip is half the fun.
- Pack snacks. If you are flying: don’t depend on flight meals to fit with your child’s needs, palate, or schedule. If driving: pack snacks that can be easily transported, minimize mess, and are easy to eat without utensils. Be sure to keep a grocery bag or large Ziploc bag for trash.
- Bring new items to play with. New toys, books, or coloring books that the kids have never seen will hold their attention longer during a long flight or drive. If you don’t want to purchase new things, consider putting away some of their current toys a few weeks in advance in anticipation for the trip.
- Electronic devices are your friend. Bring music/movie players, smart phones, or tablets if you have them. These devices are perfect for long trips and can give kids options to watch movies, play games, or listen to music. Just remember to bring headphones! If you don’t want to resort to electronics, or want to limit time on devices, search for travel games your kids can play in the car. Travel bingo and I-Spy are great choices!
- Don’t over pack! It’s tempting to want to bring everything and the kitchen sink “just in case”, but more often than not those unnecessary items will just slow you down. Pack what you need and can’t live without, but don’t think you have to bring every toy you child has ever played with or a million different outfits. Packing tip: Use a Ziploc bag to package one outfit for each day, including undies and hair accessories. This way when you reach your destination your child can easily choose what they want to wear for that day. This method also helps reduce the chance of losing something because at the end of the day everything can go right back in the bag.
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for traveling with kids?