Traveling with kids is a tricky venture. As a military family, we endured many a long-distance trip traveling to our new duty station. To avoid hearing “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” on your next trip, here are a few survival tips I’ve gathered to make traveling with kids more sane.
18 Survival Tips to Save Your Sanity
Planning ahead is the best way to survive traveling with kids. I’m a list maker, and know I cope better with planning a trip or a move by beginning with a new spiral bound composition book to write my lists.
- Write a child’s name on the top of each page and list items, activities, needs each child has.
- Provide a binder for each child filled with fun activities, such as word searches, crossword puzzles, dot-to-dots, coloring pages, and this free printable license plate game. Include a sturdy pencil pouch for pencils (regular and colored), sharpener, and crayons/washable markers.
- Download movies onto tablet devices. As a family, think of music you’d like to download and make your travel playlist.
- Plan how you will keep up with chargers, earphones, etc.
- Snacks, snacks, snacks
- paper towels
- plastic bags
- hand sanitizer
- a canister of Baby Wipes (or Wet Ones). They take stains out of clothes and can clean up any kind of mess including bodily functions.
- One mom suggested barf bags (emesis bags) . Isn’t this a great idea? No more searching for a plastic bag (which usually has a hole in it) when someone gets sick. Keep one in every pouch of your vehicle and in your backpack.
- Pack a thermometer and children’s motrin, just in case.
To dodge fights over “he got more than me,” purchase individual size snacks or measure them out into sandwich bags before the trip. Crackers, fruit snacks, trail mix, raisins, apple slices, baby carrots, cookies like vanilla wafers or Teddy Grahams. Avoid snacks that will melt in the heat and are messy and gooey.
Did I mention have plenty of snacks? Kids wants snacks when they’re bored, and sitting in a car can be boring.
Lunchables are great to have on hand. Hangry is an actual condition, so pass one back to the kids if it will be a while before you stop for a big meal.
Prior to Departure
4. Our family reads Psalm 91, the prayer of protection, before we leave on a trip. We gather in a circle and pray for God’s protection as we travel, thanking Him in advance for keeping us safe.
Traveling by Car
5. Offer Incentives.
Before loading everyone in the car explain the rules of the ride.
- Give each child a roll of nickels. If they can make the whole trip without complaining or bugging a sibling or having a meltdown, they get to keep the whole roll. But when they don’t, they pay you a nickel for every offense. *If you are concerned about choking hazards, substitute large-sized tokens.*
- Wrap several small $1 items you know your child will like. Hot Wheels, Little Pony, craft kits, magnetic games.. Once every hour, pull out a wrapped surprise for each child.
6. Audio books.
This has become one of our favorites for long road trips. Listening to an interesting story makes the time go by much faster. Audible.com offers many books all of you can enjoy on the road.
I’ve just stumbled upon this audio delight that makes the Bible come alive for all ages. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers His Name is entertaining and engaging.
7. Spin a story.
The object is to pick cards or roll cubes that give players part of the story. Assign a card or cube to each person and when it is their turn, they spin part of the story.
8. Stop every 2 (or less) hours.
Get everyone out of the car and play ball, frisbee or tag for 15 minutes. If a rest area or park has a playground, let ‘em run off their pent-up energy.
9. Limit technology.
There will be periods when everyone will need quiet time. Downloaded movies or music is perfect for this.
These tips are from a well-traveled military mom.
10. Fruit snacks. for take off and landing are a lifesaver. When children are too young for gum, let them eat fruit snacks. Bottle or nursing at take off and landing if they are too young for the fruit snacks.( I’ve found drinking from a water bottle helps my ears on take off and landing.)
11. Pack lots of healthy snacks so you don’t feel too bad about letting them munch.
12. Carry empty water bottles through TSA and fill them once you are through security.
13. If traveling overseas, keep all passports together in one place, such as a zipper pouch.
14. For overseas travel (or anywhere), make sure to pack a spare change of clothes for everyone, and more diapers than you think you might need.
More Travel Tips
15. If you are staying in a hotel, use pillow dividers between the kids if they have to share a bed.
16. Keep track of your travels. Whether it is a sticker map, a travel journal, or some other mode, make sure you keep the reminder.
17. Pack a laundry bag in your suitcase, so you can separate the clean from the dirty. When you arrive to your destination, you will know exactly what to wash.
Home Sweet Home
18. Once we reach our destination, we gather back into a circle and thank God for His traveling mercies and keeping us safe.
Hopefully some of these sanity tips will help you to not only survive, but to actually enjoy your next trip with kids.
What successful tip, trick or hack have you discovered when traveling with kids? Please share in the Comments below.
From Mommy 101