Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Tips for Holiday Travel With Kids (Reducing the Stress)

As with anything that you do with kids, road trips need to be planned out to a "T". It's stressful enough to travel during the holidays, let alone travel with children who are going nuts due to the holiday excitement. :)

So, from a mom who literally traveled (on the road) from North Carolina to Pennsylvania with six kids and then from Pennsylvania to Buffalo, New York to finalize the major move that we accomplished back in May, I want to tell you that nothing is impossible. Whether you are driving 2 hours or 20 for your holiday gallivanting and celebrations, you will want to start preparing now so that you can actually enjoy your holiday.

Here's my list of "solutions" for parents that plan to travel with their kids this holiday season:

1) Prior to your trip, sit down and decorate notebooks for each child. You could use ribbons, buttons, stickers, cotton balls, strips of fabric...let the kids use their imagination and creativity to make a Travel Journal for the trip. (Don't forget to pack them!) Pack a little pencil box with assorted crayons, colored pencils (be sure to sharpen them while you are assembling the pencil box), and markers.

Each child can create their own Travel Journal and write about what they see and do during their travels...even the little ones can draw pictures to memorialize their holiday journey.

2) Put on the holiday tunes and sing along for a while. Kids of all ages will enjoy singing Christmas songs and the miles will melt together with each song that you sing.

3) Create a scavenger hunt. Prior to the trip, think about things that the children will see on the side of the road; landmarks, signs, places, even different types of license plates. Make a list of items for the children to look for while you are traveling. This will keep their eyes on the road and the different sights to see on your journey.

4) Along the same lines of the scavenger hunt is the ABC license plate game. In alphabetical order, find the letters of the alphabet on different license plates. Alternatively, you can look for the letters on road signs rather than license plates if you want.

5) Bring along some assorted colored pipe cleaners or Bendaroos for the children to play with in the car (or van or truck). They're not messy and they will keep your children happy for hours as they design their creative inventions.

6) Snacks and drinks! I don't know about your kids, but I can assure you that when my kids get a little antsy on the road, some snacks and drinks go a long way! I usually bring along snack packs, like mini bags of chips and Capri Sun drinks.

7) "Are we there yet?" This is definitely a question that you will hear when you are traveling with kids. In order to reduce the times I hear this question, I create "Travel Vouchers". Basically, you create a Travel Voucher (sort of like a coupon) for every half hour that you expect to be on the road. As each half hour passes, your children can "turn in" a travel voucher to you and they will be able to watch their handful of travel vouchers diminish. This will give them an idea of about how much longer the trip will be.

8) Give the children maps that are pre-marked with the route that you plan to travel. Encourage them to read roadsigns and figure out where they are on the map at certain points in time. This is a great geography lesson!

9) Stop every once in a while. On our long journey from the South to the North, we made frequent stops at the rest stops along the highway. This allowed the children to use the bathroom, stretch their legs and get some energy out - and switch seats to change the monotony. It worked out really well.

10) Travel at night. This is something that we have done several times to eliminate travel anxiety. We left at 4 AM one time on the way to Myrtle Beach and at 8:30 AM, when the children were starting to wake, we were practically there. Yes, we were a bit tired...but we weren't frustrated with a long and tiresome trip with cranky kids. :)

What tricks do you use when you are traveling with your kids? Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!

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