When I tell people about where or how often we travel, one of the lines I hear the most is, “Isn’t that hard with kids?” Traveling with kids can be one of the biggest blessings in parenthood, but it’s also a lot of work. Here is how we make traveling with kids work.
Traveling with kids may seem overwhelming, but seeing all of the adventures through their eyes is so refreshing. They point out so many things I would miss with my adult eyes. But, like all things with kids, you need to be prepared when you’re traveling. Kids can get bored quickly, especially in the car or in an airplane where they can’t burn off any energy. Some locations may be a hit, while others are a flop, for no reason other than your kids aren’t feeling it that day. Here some tips on how we make traveling with kids work.
Pack plenty of “busy items”
When you know you’re going to be on a car or plane trip, make sure you pack plenty of busy items. We have a handful of favorites.
The license plate game
No matter how many trips we take, our kids never get bored of the license plate game. They love checking off their list and trying to find as many different states as possible. It’s always fun when a car from Canada or Mexico are caught on the road, too!
Kids love drawing. My kids can stay busy for hours if you give them a pencil and paper. We’re always sure to pack coloring books, activity books geared towards our trip (like Junior Ranger books to turn in for badges), or some type of activity to keep their hands and minds busy. Mad Libs are also always a hit!
Bringing a tablet
Guys, what would we do without our Kindle Fires?! We use these like crazy while we’re traveling. My kids read ebooks, listen to audiobooks, and watch their downloads on Netflix. We try to be fairly screen free at home, but while we’re on the road they more than make up for it. There are so many educational apps and games available out there, too!
Plan your trips to be kid friendly
When you’re traveling with kids, sometimes you need to cater a bit more to them than you would at home. When planning your adventures, make sure to keep in mind that you need to travel at your kids’ paces, not yours. We tend to travel very long stretches in a day when we take road trips. This isn’t typical of most families that travel, but our kids have become accustomed to it since we do it so often. I do *not* recommend this to the typical traveling family! Here are some tips on taking longer road trips.
Travel short distances at once
If your travel plans allow, try not to travel more than 5-6 hours in one day. That’s a LONG day in the car for a kiddo! They’re going to get restless. They’re going to get cranky. It’s inevitable. So, keeping your days on the shorter side makes everyone happier.
Plan some fun stops
If your plans do require you to be on the road for several hours, make sure the stops you take are fun! Find some fun and unusual places to stop like a small roadside attraction. Or find a park that is near a stop of yours. Even looking forward to a small treat that your kids don’t typically get it something that will keep their minds off of the trip and onto the fun break in your trip.
I’m not even kidding, guys. When you’re packing for a long car or plane ride, pack enough food for double the amount of kids you have. There’s something about long trips that make kids the hungriest they’ve ever been. We always have a cooler full of snacks that our kids can eat non-stop the entire day if they’d like. A full kid is usually a happy kid!
Kid fun at your destination
You need to keep the destinations kid friendly when you’re traveling with kids, too! You can go to amazing museums and historical places that you wouldn’t think of being the place for a child and make it into a super kid friendly trip.
Ask for children’s activities
Most museums and other places have something available or kids to do during their visit. We made a trip to an amazing museum this past summer that my history loving self was in complete awe over. But, they kids were so incredibly bored. It wasn’t until months later when I happened upon their website that I saw that they had a scavenger hunt for kids. What?! Why didn’t the lady at the check in counter let us know?! Always, always, always ask if museums or other tour-type places have activity sheets for the kids to go along with your visit. It engages them and keeps them busy when they’re looking at things that may not otherwise keep their interest.
Create a lesson out of your visit
You don’t need to get a full curriculum out to learn about where you’re visiting, but you can certainly make your visit into an educational one! Are you an outdoorsy person and take a lot of nature related trips? Learn about native plants or animals before your trip, print out some cool coloring pages to go along with it, or find the visitor center to get some information for your kids. They usually love to help and give you everything they have available! Is your kind of trip going to a tropical beach? You can talk about sea life, learn about tide pools, or even discuss coral reefs. Even during the most luxurious vacations, you can make them into learning opportunities!
Find family friendly destinations
When you’re traveling with kids, sometimes you may just let go of your adult wishes and go all out for your kids to have fun. We never regret doing this! Seeing our kids have fun is the best and so rewarding on vacations. When we plan longer vacations, we always try to find places that our kids will specifically look forward to. Our animal lover goes crazy over finding a new aquarium or zoo. Our little engineer will flip over finding a new science center. We will seek these places out to take our kids and they always rejoice when we do.
Want to still learn about amazing places, but can’t travel? No problem!
If you’re like me and want to explore all the places and can’t wait to go yourself, then this resource may be right up your alley! Introducint Rabbit Trails through the Parks… a literature based curriculum all about our National Parks! Go down the rabbit trail with beautiful books, hands on activities, and tons of ideas to learn about how our parks were created and about some of the top National Parks destinations!
Traveling With Kids
Going out and seeing the world with our kids brings us so much joy! Travel with your kids, get them out, learn new things with them, and see some amazing places.
Where are your favorite places to take your kids? Let me know in the comments below or in my online homeschool community!
You can find more roadschooling resources and stories of our adventures by clicking the image below.