Are we there yet?
Anyone with children has heard this despairing question. Traveling with children can test the patience of those who are most patient. Children do not have long attention spans and a long trip can be hard and tedious on them. Unhappy children while traveling make adults equally unhappy. But traveling with children need not be an unpleasant experience. With a little planning and preparation, traveling with children can be a delight.
Good behavior is the goal for children while traveling. Reaching a goal takes preparation and practice. Sometimes it will take a few trips to work out problems and find out what works best for a given child. Begin preparation as early as possible. Early preparation is probably the best way to have a successful trip with children.
Explaining to children early the how, where, and why to a destination will help the child behave better. Tell the children how long the traveling with be, where they are going and why they are going there. Decide what expectations that you have regarding the trip. Explain your expectations to the children in language that is simple and that each child can understand.
Rewards and incentives work well with children while traveling. Promising rewards at the end of the trip or at the end of each day will encourage good behavior. Give children something to anticipate. This will occupy some of their thinking time and help them want to behave well.
There are two times that are best for traveling with children. The age of the children and each ones’ temperament should be the deciding factor for deciding the best time. If you have children that are young and able to fall asleep easily when tired, travel at naptime or nighttime. This will give adults quiet time. The other option is to travel when children are well rested. Children are happier while traveling if they have slept well.
Good nutrition plays a part in happy children while traveling. Limit sugars and take healthy snacks. The ages of the children once again play a part in deciding what to bring. Wheat crackers, celery and carrot sticks, health bars, and raisons make good traveling snacks for older children.
Packing for travel is very important. Whether in an automobile or airplane, travel bags are a must for a successful trip. If the children are old enough, let them carry their own bag. Children have certain possessions that they love. If time permits, let the children help you decided what to put in the travel bag. Deciding with children takes extra time, discussion, and patience but is worth it. Depending on the length of the trip is the deciding factor as to what goes into the travel bag. If the trip is long, you may want to put in pajamas and a toothbrush so children can get ready for bed quickly and easily.
Travel items for children can be as varied as children are. If children are too young to carry their own travel bags, pencils and other small items fit well into a cake pan with a lid. This works especially well when traveling by automobile. Many small parts of a game or activity usually mean frustration for children and adults. Small travel games are inexpensive and work well if they are geared to the ages of the children. A pencil and a small notebook are handy travel items.
Colored pencils work well. They don’t melt like crayons. They don’t make messes or have lids like markers. Favorite books are a good item if they are small and lightweight. Children ages three or older love stickers. They can occupy children for a long time without making a mess.
A few surprises make traveling fun for children. Special nutritious snacks, fun stickers, pencils, or games that the children haven’t seen until they are traveling will help keep a child occupied.
Be prepared in the event of unforeseen delays. Make sure there is water, food, and warmth depending on the season. An extra change of clothing and light jacket should be considered.
While traveling by automobile, make short stops along the way. The extra time spent during these stops will be well worth it. Children can stretch or walk around and use the restroom. If traveling by airplane take the children to the restroom before you board the plane. Most likely the child will insist on using the restroom eventually anyway, but you can prolong the inevitable.
There are games that can be played while traveling in an automobile that can be enjoyed by all. The “ABC Game” is played while traveling in an area that has a lot of signs. Looking at road signs or advertising signs, each person looks for the letter A and calls it out when they see it. Next, look for the letter B, then C and so on until the entire alphabet is found. Sometimes it takes time to find a Q or Z. Depending on the size of the group, the game can be played with teams.
Another traveling game is “Count the Cars”. This can be done a couple of different ways. Decide a type of car or a certain color of car. Each person takes a different make or color. Play for a certain length of time or to a certain number and count your choice of type or color. The person with the most cars is the winner. In warmer climates, the lighter colors usually win.
Singing is a delightful way to pass the time in an automobile if you are the musical type. You can sing songs with certain themes depending on the season or holiday. It is also fun to make a human sound band with each person taking a different instrument sound and putting them all together with one person being the lead singer.
Dictionaries, maps, books on tape, word puzzles, and quiet electronic games work well for entertaining older children while traveling. Teenagers many times just want to catch up on sleep. This can be frustrating for adults that want them to see the sights and scenes while traveling but may not be worth an argument. It might be easier to take a camera and take pictures of what the teenagers missed and show them the pictures at a later time.
The best advice for adults is to enjoy their children. They grow up quickly and the moments of today are the memories of tomorrow. Make them good ones. Traveling can be fun for children and adults.The best advice