This past week we took a mini-road trip to Charlotte, NC where we visited with old friends, ate yummy food and did some shopping. We don’t travel a lot because we have 2 small children but when we do it usually goes pretty well because we plan accordingly.
Here are few of my MUSTS for traveling with small children.
1. Be Flexible – This is essential. If you try to stick to a tight schedule you will inevitably go crazy. Kids require extra time for everything. They have to potty more frequently, eat often, and be entertained. To prevent total melt down (parents included) it’s best to build flex time into your schedule when traveling. On our way home from Charlotte we stopped 3 times in 1 hour and traveled 10 miles due to a fussy baby. That was NOT part of our plan.
2. Hotel Suites are Your Friend. Unless you like going to bed at 7:30pm or sitting awake in the dark you should get a hotel suite. Whenever possible try to stay at hotels that have a rooms with separate living and bedroom areas. It means you can put the kids to bed and then stay up late watching cable TV. A win for everyone! I had a FREE Night Stay Voucher for the Country Inn and Suites and they hooked us up with a nice suite that was perfect. We put the kids to bed and then watched reruns of SNL on VH1.
3. Pack Snacks – A hungry child is never pleasant to be around. Neither is a hungry adult. When on a road trip you may encounter delays and altered dining times so pack your bag full of snacks, you won’t regret it. I always try to pack healthy yet fun snacks like yogurt covered raisins, cereal bars, crackers and trail mix.
4. Pack Comfort Items – If your child has a favorite blanket, paci, or toy be sure to bring it. Sleeping in the car or in a new place can be uncomfortable and scary so lessen the impact by having familiar and favorite things on hand. EXAMPLE: Noah never uses a pacifier when we are at home but I should have brought one for the car trip. It would have been nice to help keep him calm until we could find a safe place to pull over and attend to his needs. We ended up buying one at Walgreens on the way home.
5. Build In Play Time – Little kids can only handle so much riding quietly in the car and sitting nicely at a restaurant table. Find fun things for your kids to do throughout the day. Stop at a local park. Swim in the hotel pool. Visit a local kids museum. Joe took Jude swimming in the hotel pool, which he thought was awesome. We also visited with some friends that had children Jude’s age so he got to play with new friends and new toys.
6. Pack Car Toys Wisely – You will want to bring a few toys along for the car ride but be mindful of what you pack. You don’t want something that will be loud an annoying or a toy with a million pieces. We should have planned a little better in this area. Jude brought along his “computer” which offered him hours of entertainment but it doesn’t have good volume control and became annoying rather quickly. Books are nice.
7. Have Fun – Most importantly when traveling with your family you should aim to have a great time that will become fond memories for your kids. Things don’t always go as planned and spending a lot of time in close proximity with your family can be stressful but if you roll with the punches and alter plans accordingly everyone should have a great time.
Not matter how well we plan we inevitably get lost, argue about where to eat or have a toddler melt-down in public but we try to quickly resolve our issues so we can get back to having fun.