Do you have a fun family holiday planned for March Break? Awesome! Now is a good time to consider how you’re going to keep your kids under control while they’re away from their usual routines and surroundings. Here are some tips.
Lift your electronics restrictions
We know, the experts say to limit exposure, and we agree, but a temporary free-for-all keeps everyone sane for travel times, especially long ones. There are so many great apps that hide learning in fun games or activities, it doesn’t have to be all bad. Make sure you have a fully-charged portable charger with you, as well. Nothing will make your kid howl more than being right on the cusp of breaking through the next Minecraft level and suddenly having their tablet die from lack of charge.
Leave loads of time
Nothing gets kids jazzed up more than having to rush — or sensing your frustration when you see them not rushing. If you want your child to stay on your side and remain calm and pleasant, don’t put either of you in a situation where you need them to hurry up and go, already.
Worth the money
Before your trip, visit the dollar store and buy one item your child will find entertaining for every hour of travel time, plus one or two for every day you are away, for downtime or when you’re getting ready. Wrap the items in fun paper, put them all in your carry-on bag (obviously make sure they are small items!) and then let your child stick his or her hand in the surprise grab bag to pull out a new item every hour of travel. Kiss the “I’m boooorrrreeed!” whining goodbye.
Even if you’re only travelling within the province or country, not all places have pharmacies or stores open 24-hours, so it’s good to have a few essentials on hand in case of sickness. Kids are never at their best when they feel rotten (neither are parents!) so pack band-aids, children’s pain/fever relief, a thermometer, an all-purpose antihistamine, an anti-vomit and anti-diarrhea medicine, an easy-to-carry powder form of anti-dehydration you can mix with water, and sunscreen/sunburn balm (if your destination requires it). Don’t think your little skier can’t get a burned nose on the slopes! Keep germs or medical issues at bay with an antibacterial ointment, hand sanitizer (keep this in your carry-on with a spare in your packed toiletries) and enough of any prescribed meds your child takes (also keep these in your carry-on in case of lost luggage on flights.)
Snacks are everything
You want to focus on foods that travel well, don’t require refrigeration, are healthy (as much as possible) and don’t take up too much space or make a huge mess. Granola bars, trail mix, animal crackers, carrot or celery sticks, raisins, applesauce squeeze-pouches, pita chips, dry cereal, jerky, nuts (if allergies aren’t a factor) and oranges you can peel when needed and dole out segments all make good travel eats. Don’t forget some wet wipes for clean-up!
Cameras will save you
Even the youngest toddler LOVES taking pictures! Invest in a camera appropriate for your child’s age, and give them hours of entertainment, as long as you don’t mind looking at everything they snap!
Kids aren’t usually adaptable to on-the-fly arrangements. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you leave the house to avoid meltdowns caused by your little creatures of habit. Think about transportation (to and from the airport and attractions) and accommodations that will suit your needs, like rooms with cribs or extra rollaway beds, and maybe a sitting area so you can enjoy a glass of wine without disrupting your child’s sleep.
You want to make the most of your travel time and see or do as much as you can, but kids aren’t adults. They have limits in terms of attention spans and energy, so try to keep your itinerary at a pace your youngest child will be able to handle.