I know, for my family, as well as many others, summer-time means traveling to some destination. Whether it is a trip to the family cabin or a family vacation, some planning ahead can help relieve stress when traveling with children.
This year, our family is traveling with my brother and his family to see the national parks in Montana and Wyoming. We are renting a larger van to seat all 10 of us, and to share on gas costs, as well as for our children to have traveling buddies.
We made the decision in fall that we would be taking this trip, so the search for where we were going to stay began early.
My sister-in-law found a beautiful house on the edge of Glacier National Park. There is a lake right off the property, a wrap-around porch on the house so the views can be enjoyed from all directions, and enough bedrooms and a recreation room to help with privacy time, as well as recreation.
Best of all, the price for this rental property was very affordable, as she nabbed it early enough. It pays to pre-plan.
The lodge home is immaculate and beautiful, with a fireplace inside and fire pit outside, as well as bear spray in each bedroom. Wildlife is right in the backyard. As wonderful as this is, safety precautions must be taken. The quote, “don’t feed the bears,” is more than appropriate. Leave a bear alone, and it will leave you alone.
The national parks in these areas offer different sight-seeing opportunities that we are looking forward to. Involving our children in the process of the planning also helps keep them in the loop and feeling like they are a part of it.
One thing we learned over the course of family vacationing is: don’t try and pack too many activities into one day. My son, who is now 15, always reminds me of this. There should be a balance between organized activity and some free play and rest some serendipity time, too.
Having children earn vacation money for chores gives them the opportunity to have their own cash for the trip. When kids have to spend their own money, they are much more apt to spend it much more carefully. (I use this tip when we go school shopping, as well. It works wonderfully.)
What and how much to pack is key, as well.
First of all, start with luggage on wheels, if possible, for each person, as this makes it much easier, even for younger ones to be responsible for their luggage.
Always pack more underwear and socks than you think you’ll need. My children always bring along more than one swimsuit, as well. While one is drying, they can wear the other.
Flip flops and comfortable tennis shoes are important. Don’t have your children wear brand new shoes for the trip. If the shoes aren’t worn in, they can cause blisters. Comfort is the key.
Also, when traveling in a car, bus, train, or plane, make sure your children are wearing clothes that they can unsnap or unzip easily for those bathroom stops or trips.
Pack nail clippers, a tweezers, and a first aid kit, which includes some anti-itch cream, some ibuprofen, Band-Aids, and antibacterial cream, too. Baby wipes or hand wipes are a must.
Some snacks are a must, too. I always bring some type of sucking candy or gum (depending on age of children).
With all of the electronics these days, keeping kids occupied while traveling has become an easier task. For a special treat, I allow each of my kids to pick out a new book or magazine and one new DVD for the trip.
Disposable cameras are also an inexpensive way for kids to capture memories on the trip.
On your vacation, always designate a meeting point, in case someone gets separated from your party. Make sure everyone, including your children, knows your cell phone numbers.
Vacations provide great memories for families and children. Some pre-planning and preparation, as well as flexibility, will help make the vacation pleasant for everyone.