This post about traveling with kids has been sponsored by Marriot and Clever Girls but all opinions expressed here are my own.
My husband and I travel frequently with our kids. Having all of our family out of state means that traveling with kids is vital if I want them to get to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. My youngest was 6 months old when we made our first trip from Georgia to New Hampshire. For those of you not familiar with geography, let me just tell you that there is a LOT of land between those two states. 24 hours of actual driving time…not to mention stops to change babies who have spit up on themselves or to change toddlers who aren’t QUITE as potty trained as you thought they were. Yeah…those were good times! I can look back on those years with fondness now that they are teens. I have some great embarrassing stories to tell future boyfriends about our days of traveling with kids! If you are going to be heading out this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep you sane on the road. Or at least sane enough so that you don’t leave your screaming 3 year old in a rest stop and hope a nice family brings him home!
Tips for Traveling with Kids
1. Try driving at night. You will hit less traffic and your children will hopefully sleep for most of the trip. My husband would take a half day off at work and come home and sleep for a few hours. Then we would eat dinner, pack the car and head out right after rush hour. The kids would stay awake for a couple hours and then we enjoyed blessed silence for most of the night.
2. Pack more food and drinks than you think you will need. Do NOT pack high sugar snacks. Bags of dried cereal, nuts and dried fruit (depending on kids ages), protein bars and other nutrient dense foods. Each kid got a reusable water bottle so I never had to hear the words “I’m thirsty”. Instead I heard a lot of “I’m Bored” but more about that next!
3. Pack entertainment: I used to hit the library for new books and movies. Stop at Goodwill for a few new to them toys. While I am not a fan of plugging kids in, when all else fails, stick in a movie or three for a couple hours of blessed silence. Now that my kids are teens they plug themselves into their iPods and video games. Make sure you pack car chargers and backup batteries.
4. Consider NOT staying with family: Honestly, while I love visiting with family, I also love leaving them for several hours and doing things alone with my own kids and husband. Or napping…that is also vital to maintaining sanity while traveling with kids! Look into staying at a local hotel. Preferably one that has a pool for the kids and a hot tub for you to relax in. After 6 hours of chaotic family bonding a bit of down time is nice. I like to stay in a hotel with a mini kitchen to keep snacks well stocked and one with free WiFi so kids can surf, play games, watch movies, etc. Your time with family will be all that much sweeter if you have a place to hang out away from them occasionally.
5. Plan ahead to visit local attractions: When traveling with kids I try hard to find fun and unique things to do while we are visiting. Often if you plan ahead you can find good discounts online to local attractions. I must admit, I try to find educational things to do whenever I can and get books at the library that go along with that lesson. When we traveled to Texas to visit we got books about alligators and when we visited Charleston we got books about the civil war. Yes, my kids as teens can now spot my ‘teaching moments’ a mile away but I still try to get them in while I can. The key is to balance ‘educational’ and ‘fun’ like when we went whale watching last summer or our hike down into the caves of Kentucky. Traveling with kids can be less stressful if they have fun activities planned to look forward to.
If you have travel plans coming up, consider staying with Marriott. Marriott International is a leading hospitality company with over 3,800 properties in over 74 countries and territories around the world. They have a number of resources available to make your next trip fun and relaxing. Just check out the great info-graphic they created for people interested in whale watching in San Diego. This is just one of the many resources they offer to help make your vacation planning easier and to teach you a thing or two about your destination.
San Diego Whale Watching in America’s Finest City
An infographic by the team at Marriott San Diego Hotels
No matter where you are planning to go on your next vacation, if you are traveling with kids you need to plan ahead! Gone are the days of flying by the seat of your pants with just an overnight bag and a map. Traveling with kids requires about as much planning as trying to plan a museum heist but with a lot more gear. It can be fun, though, if you plan ahead, and those memories of family vacations are special ones that both you and your children will cherish forever. And yes, you will even look fondly on that trip where you left your $200 sunglasses on the roof of your car at some backwoods rest stop.
I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.