4 Tips for Surviving Travel with Kids

Happy Summer! Now that school is out and the summer is sizzling, you’re probably packing your bags for a little family getaway.

The getaway doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Some families love the beach. Others hit up national parks around the country. Even a visit to an out of state relative’s home is a great way to get away together as a family.

And getting away together as a family is important. The anticipation of a special trip, several hours in the car together, plus the shared experience and memories created is invaluable to your family’s connectedness. It’s certainly worth the time and effort to pull off a trip this summer.

But let’s be honest: traveling with kids isn’t easy. Especially if their ages span the years. I am one of seven children so at times my parents had to pacify a bratty teenager and an inconsolable six-month-old all in the same car ride. I won’t tell you where I fall in birth order as to not expose my brattiness.

How did we ever make it work? Here are some tips on traveling with kids from the moms who have been there. 4

  1. Set appropriate expectations. If your vacation is only worth it if everything goes perfectly and no one cries through dinner, then you might as well stay at home. Instead, call it a success if your family bonds over special experiences and makes memories. 
  2. Plan activities for the car ride. My brave, creative mom loaded our minivan with cardboard car bingo cards, pens and paper for tic-tac-toe, and audio books for shared listening. I still remember Adventures in Odyssey episodes thanks to those family trips. We played road sign alphabet search, made up sentences out of the letters on car tags, and raced to 10 counting designated colored cars. The space is tight. The ride gets long. Try to avoid the urge to distract your family with screens. Sure the sibling kick fights will happen. Still, the moments with your family in this unique, squished setting are actually perfect for enjoying each other.
  3. Know what to pack. Have you seen the hack about baby powder smoothing beach sand off baby legs? Now that is having just what you need in your beach bag. Do you research to be prepared for your location. A few obvious must-haves are: snacks;  baby needs like diapers, bottles, blankie, etc.; a basic first aid kit; an extra change of clothes that is easily accessible, even for older kids and mom and dad; and your memory catchers like a phone, camera, or even a journal.
  4. Have fun! I almost hate to say it but I’ve been the mom who dreaded the experience because I thought the hassle of the journey was too hard. Let’s not do that. Being with our kids and families is worth it. Try to go with the flow. Their naps will probably be off. Your husband might lose his wedding ring building a sand castle. Someone will cry from sunburn. It’s okay. Because you’ll also see dolphins, ride go-karts, catch crabs, try new food, and laugh together.

So go for it. Book the flight. Reserve the room. You’ll be glad you did. Because even though it can be a challenge, mostly you’ll show your family that they are important enough to indulge in this special time together.

By Tracy Lane