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Traveling with your family, especially kids can be so much fun and so exhausting at the same time! It’s fun to discover new places, learn new facts, and just be together and it's much better to be out creating memories than buying another toy. So how can you keep the chaos away and actually enjoy your vacation together? No matter where you go or how long you are gone; there are a few things that make the difference between a happily ever after ending and the wicked witch of the west wins.
The Buddy System
There is a reason why it is used so much in schools- it works! Try pairing up the older kids with the younger ones or match kids according to personalities. Having a buddy helps each child be more responsible which in turns encourages them to be well mannered too. Giving responsibility to everyone not only eases some of your stress, it lets everyone feel involved and important. If you can have them help in other jobs too, do it- even if it takes a little longer and isn't exactly way you would do it. One day they will have to do it without you so they might as well learn now.
Pack for the Occasion Not the Person
Don’t pack a suitcase for every individual instead think about your trip and how you can divide it up. If you are going to stop over somewhere on the way to your destination, have one overnight bag that you can bring in instead of everyone taking in their own suitcase. Pack all the church clothes in one suitcase so they won’t get tossed around with everything else. Put all the extra shoes in one tub or mesh bag so they don’t get all the clothes dirty. It’s easy to organize within a suitcase with Ziploc or canvas bags. You can always pack the next needed suitcase on top so it’s always easy to grab it and go.
Schedule Breaks AND Extra Time
Everyone knows kids need breaks- even adults need to stretch their legs so obviously schedule breaks in but go beyond that- Schedule extra time throughout your day. If you get to your destination early, great! However, if there is a bathroom accident or you see a fun roadside attraction, you have the time to stop and enjoy the moment. You can be spontaneous AND stay on schedule. It’s the best of both worlds. On the flip side, if something takes longer than expected, know what you can easily cut out of your schedule for the sanity of the whole group.
Share the Secret Plan
Let your crew know the plan and the goals of the day or entire vacation ahead of time. Sit together each morning and go over the most important details and goals. This is great time to answer questions and uncover unnoticed flaws beforehand. Knowing what’s going to happen is not only comforting for everyone but it helps you all strive for the same goal. Better yet, let your crew help you plan and make goals. Maybe everyone can pick out one thing they really want to do on vacation. That way, no matter what, everyone liked at least one thing about the vacation. Sometimes it is a simple as stopping for ice cream. Have extra maps on hand too. Kids (and adults) like to see where they are going plus it can be a great educational tool.
Remember: It’s about the People Not the Activities
No matter what, remember the whole point of going on vacation is to create great family memories together. Yes, you may also want to ride every roller coaster in the world but if you have to choose between going on one last roller coaster and leaving before the littlest one goes full on tantrum, pick ending the vacation on a good note. It’s about the memories and building of relationships. If you end on a bad note, guess what you are going to remember? Not the rollercoaster.
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Your turn- what is your secret to traveling with kids?