Family vacations are a time to create wonderful memories of playing in the sand, singing silly songs in the car and seeing new sites. But for many families, vacation memories also include screaming toddlers, whining children and exhausted parents. Can you find a way to enjoy your next family vacation without all the stress? Try some of these tips for traveling with children to keep the peace on your next vacay.
Keep Healthy Snacks Handy
To keep the kids on an even keel, stock your car with healthy foods and forgo sugary snacks and junk food. Too much sugar, or perhaps even food coloring, may cause children to become hyperactive. With no place to go, all that excess energy can turn your car into a madhouse. On your next vacation, try bringing some of these along:
- Cheese sticks: You'll have to pack a mini cooler to keep cheese sticks cold on the road, but they have lots of protein to keep kids satisfied. For bonus entertainment, get the twisted variety that kids can unravel as they eat.
- Fresh fruit: Fruit comes packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber and can keep a sweet tooth happy. Just be sure to bring along wet wipes, paper towels and a few small trash bags for peels and cores.
- Jerky: Though toddlers can't manage a piece of jerky very well, it does make a nutritious snack for older children. A great alternative to chips, protein-rich jerky takes a really long time to eat, which keeps grumpy children quiet in the car.
Plan Ahead for Car Activities
The experts at Kidoodle.TV suggest putting together a few boredom busters that will keep little hands and minds entertained for hours. Although they require a little planning, these traveling activities can save you aggravation on the road.
- Magnetic busy tray: You can make a magnetic busy tray to entertain active minds on the go. Paint a small baking sheet with colorful spray paint and attach decorative wallpaper or scrapbook paper on the inside. When the tray dries completely, fill it with a variety of magnets that your children can mix and match.
- Eye spy bottle: Little kids love to search for hidden treasures, so keep them occupied with a treasure hunt on the road. You can make an eye spy bottle using materials lying around the house. Use a funnel to fill an empty plastic soda bottle with about 1/4 cup of rice. Drop in a few tiny objects, such as sequins, plastic jewels, plastic figures or marbles. Repeat this process until you fill the entire bottle with layers of rice and objects. Then hot glue the bottle cap in place to prevent spillage. Write a list of the bottle's contents on an index card, punch out a hole in one corner of the card and attach it to the bottle with a piece of yarn or string. Kids can check off the items as they find them among the rice.
- Remember the media: Technology gives today's parents kid-quieting opportunities their own parents never dreamed of. Attach portable DVD players to the backs of the front seats and play your kids' favorite movies. Bring portable gaming advices, or stream TV programming if you have mobile Internet service. Kidoodle.TV and other streaming services offer kid-friendly media on your iPhone, iPad or Android devices.
Schedule Lots of Kid-Friendly Stops
Let kids release pent-up energy by stopping regularly. Pick some roadside stops ahead of time and mark them on your itinerary. You can choose unique sites, like the world's largest ball of twine or tiniest horse, or go simple by marking fast-food restaurant play areas on your route. Pit stops will allow those little legs to stretch — and if you're lucky, they'll wear the kiddos out enough to nap in the car.