We all want family activities to be fun and memorable. However, you will agree with me that where kids are involved, a mess is inevitable. This is not exactly a bad thing, and kids will always be kids. I have learned to be prepared for the worst but hope for the best whenever I travel with the kids. Although it gets overwhelming, I use a few tips to make it easier and eventually have fun.
Preparation is everything. Actually, you need to take more time to prepare compared to how long the trip will last. I’ve always ensured that I start my preparations at least a week ahead of time. I ensure that we do all the travel shopping early, so we do not have to do some rush shopping the day before the trip or the morning of it.
No matter how smart you claim to be, you are human enough to forget something. This is why I always have a traveling checklist. Here, I outline all the things we will need in classes. There is the food and snacks category, the clothes category, rest, and other special items. I must check out all the items by the evening of the trip or, better so, two evenings prior.
It is quite tempting to want to stuff everything in the suitcase, in case the kids need it. However, this will only make the journey less enjoyable and increase your luggage size. The checklist has always ensured that I have everything we need and nothing extra. Plus, I always leave room for buying emergency items along the way. It is easier this way, and it gives us more peace to focus on the road and its fun activities.
If your kids are old enough, allow them to take part in the preparation stage. I’ve found it beneficial to give the older kids the chance to pick what they want to carry. Of course, I will make sure they only pick the essentials, but I try to draw a balance between their choices and my leads. This way, I am at peace that there will be fewer hitches and the kids feel responsible for what they bring along.
Getting where we are going on-time demands that we have to leave earlier than usual. Traveling with kids means one will take longer to leave the house as well. Therefore, I have to ensure we are all up at least two hours before departure to ensure that everyone has ample time to get ready. This ensures we do not miss the flight, and if we are driving, we do not have to speed to catch up.
In the same way that we love to plan psychologically, kids need an adult to help them understand how the journey will unfold in advance. I often take some minutes to explain to the kids what the whole trip will entail. This includes the stops we will make, the hotels, any sceneries and what to do at the airport.
When kids understand what to expect, they are more relaxed. This way, even adults can feel more in control.
The advantage of taking kids along on trips is that you will not have to worry too much about how much you spend. I often do a bit of survey beforehand to see how much I’ll save where children’s discounts are involved. If it is at the zoo, there are kids’ subsidized entrance fees. Some restaurants allow kids to eat free on specific promotions. Even buses and trains cut down kids’ transport costs.
Finally, the only way to have total peace, no matter how the trip turns out, is by accepting that things often go wrong where kids are involved. This notion allows me to welcome the unexpected and bounce back fast enough before helplessness kicks in. It might be a lost item, a closed restaurant, or a stop that isn’t kids friendly. Whatever the situation, I always look for the silver lining. Solutions are always a peaceful thought away.