I have always love traveling. Who wouldn’t right? Exploring a new country or even a mini holiday in the same country is still a holiday to me. However, my world changed 180 degrees once my kids came into the picture. Traveling became a CHALLENGE!
I was rather down and lived my months staying at home and not going anywhere. Traveling became a hassle. I hated the idea of bringing the kiddos on trips even with help. Because, truth be told, it was never the same again!
One fine day, i had an inspiration to change my perspective of how i viewed life and i started managing the differences of my lifestyle as well as my metal thoughts. This opened up a new door for me. My negative aspects of traveling with my kids became positive. I began to enjoy every little thing about traveling with them. It became one of the most beautiful experiences you can have as a family. Perhaps they are now older and understand better, as some may say. But truth is, kids are still just kids. I learnt to nurture the moments even with the battles of whines, cries and fights with a fun and loving solution. The fear for the worst i challenged it with my concept of better planning, time management and the importance of patience. Soon enough, my nightmare i once feared, became a beautiful blessing.
Right this moment, i’m traveling again. Be it for work and/or for a vacation i am thankful for having them with me at all times. So, i decided to write this post just in case there are any other parents out there like myself once upon a time ago…with children similar ages to mine…who are scared about upcoming travel plans and impeding meltdowns.
These are my tips…lessons I’ve learned (often the hard way) while traveling with the kiddos. It’s a bit lengthy…
Pack smart. Pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there. Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear. Wear your heaviest clothes on the journey/flight. Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills. Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit. And pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pajamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents or overly sweaty moments.
The travel bag. This is key. And not just any bag.
A tote generally works best. Mine has lots of compartments, opens easily and wide, is able to be reached into without having to unzip a million zippers and allows me to load up all the necessities with minimal stacking. The idea is that at a moments notice I can reach in and grab exactly what I need before meltdown ensues. I like for the bag to be large enough to hold everything I need, but small enough to be stowed underneath the seat in front of me for easy access.
Diapers and wipes. Even if your kid is well potty trained and can hold his/her bladder like a pro, accidents do happen. It happened various times to me and the hubs, that we were forced to pull over to the side of the road because the kids really had to go! There wasn’t a bathroom in sight. Hence, sometimes traveling it might not be a bad idea to bring some overnight diapers. These come in larger sizes and can hold a lot of liquid.
Breaks. Its always good for you and the kids to stretch during road trips. Be careful and only stop at proper rest stops. It is important to visit well-lit, populated places that have lots of people and ample parking.
Snacks. Its pretty much assumed you will travel with juice boxes and kid snacks. Try to bring along car friendly snacks that won’t get messy during the ride, such as bread, apples, bananas, carrots, celery, cheese and pretzel sticks. This will help to reduce the number of fast food meals eaten on the road. I usually prepare them into individual servings in zip lock baggies so they lie flat.
Medication. It is extremely important to bring along basic medication and vitamins for kiddos at all vacations, be it short or long. The idea of having a sick kid along with you is never fun however with medication on hand can save you quite a lot of hassle.
Entertainment. Usually with active curious toddlers its always a big plus to bring activities to keep them entertained. For me, i usually allow my kids to choose their favourite toy to bring along which they end up role playing over and over again. Alternatively, you can also bring along some colouring books or their favourite DVD’s to watch in the hotel or the car (if you have an option to watch DVD’s in the car along the way).
Breathe. I tell myself to breathe at all times. Not everything is within our control. Occasionally we just got to deal with the situation as it comes.. like for instance… If a toddler is cranky, and whiney it is a sign that they need your attention. Like babies, it could be because they want something, hungry or even just plain tired.Reminding myself constantly that holidays are about family, friends and food. In a matter of hours, memories will be created with loved ones and with all the excitement in mind it is enough to forget that you have to make the journey back in just a matter of days.
Mental strength. It is normal for kids to be kids. They will still do the things they do to drive you up the wall.They will fight, cry, complain, whine and act up just to press those buttons which you try so hard to control. But if you take a deep breath and analyse it out of the box, you will begin to see that your beautiful children which were once ever so tiny has grown up. As a parent, we have achieved thus so far and this beautiful journey still continues.Patience is the key when you have a child. Studies shown, a successful yet healthy relationship occurs when parents embrace their child with patience. No loud screaming will make situation better. No act of the hands or hurtful words can bring good to your child. Although at times, its hard to bite our tongue and control ourselves but when we are able to control our negative perspective from our mind a healthier relationship and communication will be created in the long run. Strengthen the focus of family bonding during the vacation. No negative act will create a happy traveling experience for anyone. So keep that mental objective embedded into the heart and enjoy every second of your vacation with your loved ones. God bless! 🙂