Here are seven simple tips to make any trip go more smoothly:
- If your kids are old enough to understand, tell them about the trip…kids appreciate being told ahead of time so they know what to expect.
- Organize all of your travel documents and have them easily accessible…picture ID, rental car papers, hotel reservations, shuttle info, important phone numbers, etc. If you can find what you need in a hurry, there will be tons less stress.
- Encourage kids to get rid of that excess energy before boarding…many airport terminals have special kid-friendly areas where little ones can run and play…check out your airport before you go. If you are driving, make frequent stops to stretch, snack and play.
- In a handy carry-on (or in a small cooler if you are driving), have appropriate food, bottles, drinks and non-sugary snacks (cheese and crackers, peanut butter and crackers, dried fruit, oranges that can be peeled and sectioned, zip-lock bags with dry cereals).
- KEEP THE KIDS BUSY, as needed. Some children will be happy looking out of the window or just talking. Bring their favorite toys, ‘lovies’, books and electronics to keep them engaged, calm and happy. A box of crayons and a pad of blank paper can provide an hour of quiet bliss as you and your child tell stories and draw pictures for them. A surprise bag with small gaily-wrapped packages can provide a welcome distraction. And remember not to give the kids everything at once…bring out different items to amuse them as the trip progresses.
- When you leave the plane or take a break from driving at a restaurant or hotel, make sure you check for all of your possessions…kids may have dropped a beloved toy or favorite book that wouldn’t be missed until it was too late.
- Last, but not least, be positive, upbeat and calm, even when the situation may be difficult…kids take their cues from the adults around them…with your words and your body language, you communicate how you are feeling.
Vivian Kirkfield, BA, MS is a passionate advocate of early childhood education. She believes that with a positive self-image and a love of books, every child can achieve a life of balance, happiness and meaning. To spread the message that reading picture books with children is one of the most important tasks of parenthood, Vivian wrote Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, an award-winning parent-teacher resource that provides 100 classic picture book summaries and a simple craft and recipe for each. She contributes to newspapers, magazines and blogs world-wide at Picture Books Help Kids Soar, writes picture book stories and actively serves the community by providing literacy and self-esteem-building programs for parents, teachers and kids. You can connect with Vivian on Twitter, Facebook, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.