Monday, June 22, 2009

Tips for Traveling with Children

I have personally made many trips both across the great American continent as well as to Europe, Asia and the Caribbean with children. Each trip was really an enjoyable adventure but if not planned properly it can become a living nightmare. The key is basically how well you as the adult can prepare before hand for the upcoming trip.

Being a lifelong traveler gave my family a rare opportunity to tour extensively. We have traveled by just about every conceivable way possible. Auto, motor home, airplane and ship. Initially we made many mistakes and we naturally learned from those mistakes to prevent them from reoccurring. I would now like to tell to you a few of the tips that we picked up over the years.

If you plan to be traveling any long distances by car you may wish to keep the following information clearly in mind... get as organized as you possibly can. If your travel itinerary calls for motel stops overnight you may wish to provide each child with a separate overnight bag of their own. This simple act encourages the child to develop a little responsibility for their own possessions as well as making them think they are grown up. My wife keeps a heavy duty plastic bag specifically for the dirty laundry. You don’t want to place the dirty clothes on top of the clean ones.

The amount of time you will be traveling will actually determine the number of clothing outfits that you should take with you. Sitting in a car for any length of time is certainly a reason to have a daily change of clothing. You should ensure that each member of your party has plenty of extra clothing in the event of accidents.

I have a 12 volt cooler that we always take some snacks, sandwiches and drinks with us. This keeps us from having to eat the fast foods along the way. In addition, we can eat smaller quantities and not feel as bloated as we travel. You save money and eat healthier. If we are traveling for an extra long distance we will try to have a good, balanced meal at the end of the days travel.

Our Garmin GPS is programmed to tell us when to take a rest break and believe me there are many times that we look forward to those breaks. When traveling with children you must plan for rest stops every couple hours so that they can visit the bathrooms and also to allow them and the driver to get out and stretch their legs a bit.

When we came back from California several years ago we drove our motor home all the way. It was a real enjoyable trip since we made sure to plan our evening stops before dark. This provided us with ample time to get the RV setup and to actually enjoy the areas where we stopped. A swimming pool and play ground are essential if you are traveling with kids. The average driving time for long trips should not exceed 8 to 10 hours.

Keep plenty of games, books and movies in the car for the children to enjoy. We always take the laptop or GameBoy for the kids to play with as we travel. If the battery gets low we merely plug it into one of the inexpensive power converters that converts the 12 volt car battery to 110 volts AC. It doesn’t take long for the laptop battery to get recharged.

So as you can tell with the proper planning you can enjoy traveling with children and have a pleasant vacation yourself to boot.

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Mrs Sweetwater said...

This is a great post. let me also add one tip - take a gamebag. fill it with coloring books, paper, crayons and pencils so that the kids can play the license plate game and draw the map of the journey.

it encourages geography as fun, and makes them a part of the trip planning team.

Mom said...

Thank you for all the wonderful information.

I'm in the process of planning a cross country trip that will take place 4 years from now. I'll be traveling with a 7 yr old and 8 yr old. This article will be very helpful in my planning.

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Sandy said...

Found you this am on blogged. Though I always visit you when dropping for EC, I've now connected to you there as well.

I agree on being organized, not traveling too long, taking breaks etc. But, totally disagree on the gameboy, the video stuff. I'm a firm believer that people need to leave that at home, so traveling is different then being at home. I really dislike seeing kids tuned out,(and completely missing whats going on) no family interaction and believe car time is the best possible time for family conversation, family games, education, etc. We never turned on the TV while traveling when our daughter was young. We rarely do even now that it's just the 2 of us in traveling.

I see your point about kids with their own bags...but, also see that as a more difficult packing situation. A few larger bags rather than bunches of small ones seems like a better option to me. Also decreases the possibility of something being left. Though I suspect the age of the child here comes into play. I always fold and repack the dirty clothes in a plastic bag in the same suitcase. That way your not in need of additional space and things stay as tidy as when you left. Until we near the end of our journey, then we might put all the dirties in one bag and the clean ones in another.

as always welcome mats out, do swing by for a visit.

Abhinav Rastogi said...

Those are some pretty good tips. I was touring the USA the whole last month. i rented over 10 cars in 5 weeks. So that was a lot of road-travel!! But I used the iPhone as my GPS.. i dont like Garvin.. :)
check out my travel-log at

Nicole Feliciano said...

wow even 8 hours seems like a long time. I would say 5 with young kids.

Eddie Garcia said...

I like traveling and makes plans before you leave is essential as you have already alluded to. I can hardly stay in a vehicle for 6 hrs at a time much less longer with children. An RV is a different story since you can get up and move around or even lie down and take a nap. I can see taking breaks every 2 hrs or so to stretch and use the restrooms. Cutting the cost of meals by taking sandwiches, snacks and drinks is a good idea too. Thanks for the post and I will try to remember these helpful tips.

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