Travel with your children can be a fun and educational way to teach them about history, cultures, and cuisine. It can be a time to play together and relax together. Sharing new adventures creates lifelong memories. Long before you head out on that trip, you will probably be worrying about getting to that great destination. Let’s face it – long trips with the family can be tedious and tiring if you aren’t adequately prepared.
Beyond booking hotels or flights, you need to plan what will, and what might happen on your journey. This includes everything from keeping the kids occupied to avoiding getting stranded. Here are some tips for planning long distance journeys with the family.
General tips for Planning Long Distance Journeys with the Family:
Everyone needs to wear comfortable shoes because airports often have significant walks to boarding gates. If your teenager wants to wear four-inch wedges, she’s going to slow you down and possibly make you late for your flight. Also, she will have to wear those shoes on the flight, so something comfortable is more appropriate.
One of your biggest tasks on any long journey is keeping your kids from getting bored. Bring tablets loaded with games and videos. Make sure all your devices are charged up and consider investing in a power bank. Back up your devices with books. Play some easy games like I-Spy, teach your kids some key phrases or customs about your vacation destination, or have them draw pictures. With very young children, be sure to bring a beloved stuffed animal or blanket to avoid meltdowns.
Adventures with your Automobile
Using your car to get to your destination offers a lot of flexibility. You can plan to drive straight to your vacation spot without any delays, or you can make an adventure out of the car trip itself. By stopping in the “cleanest town in Iowa” or the “city known for lollipops,” you will break up the monotony of the car trip, and have some unique experiences. You will need to be careful about accommodations, so you don’t find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with no place to sleep.
You also have to plan for potential car problems. While you might have a car service, it’s a good idea to have some emergency kit items to save you waiting on a tow truck. For example, a hand-held tire inflator can get you to a service station and quickly back on your itinerary.
Trekking by Train
Train journeys are a great way to see the changing countryside. You have a few options for sleeping on trains, from bedrooms to just spreading out in coach. It will depend on the amount of privacy you want. You may want to check your luggage so that you don’t have to worry about carrying heavy bags around.
Trains routinely face delays, so you have to be somewhat flexible about arrival times. Give yourself enough time to make necessary connections, always keeping in mind that running through the train station with your family is not a good option.
One way to keep occupied on the trip is to visit the different cars. The dining car is a great place to meet other passengers. The Dome Car lets you take in the scenery with panoramic windows. And once the kids are asleep, the Bar Car is a perfect place to unwind.
Flying the Friendly Skies
If you are taking long flights, try to book them at a time when your children might sleep. Overnight flights might be a little extra, but once your little ones are asleep, you can relax a bit and hopefully keep your fellow travelers happy.
Don’t forget to update passports and other paperwork needed for the trip. Nothing causes more panic than leaving a necessary document at home. It can delay your trip and stress you out before you even get through security. Once you arrive at the airport, take advantage of curbside baggage check if it is available. This will save you carrying luggage through the airport crowds, which can slow you down.
You won’t be able to stop at a convenience store, so be sure to pack essentials like wet wipes, extra diapers, snacks, prescription drugs and extra clothing for everyone. You would hate to arrive at your destination smelling of baby vomit.
The secret to great family travel is planning. Whether it’s a flat tire, or boredom, bringing the right tools will keep everyone safe and happy. Start planning your trip today.