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9 tips for travel with kids
Traveling with kids can be tough. It can be expensive, and highly stressful without some strategic planning. Fortunately, travel with kids is also a wonderful experience that kids will remember for the rest of their lives. With a little planning ahead, traveling with kids might be more fun and cheaper than you think. I hope these 9 tips for travel with kids will help you on your next adventure!
1. Pack a cooler
Bringing your own snacks is the best way to prevent expensive gas station stops. I tried to include healthy snacks like grapes since they’re not available at many gas stations and ridiculously priced if they are. The cooler will also come in handy if you are cooking some of your own meals (check out #4!) We love our Ozark Trail 52-Quart High-Performance Cooler. It’s a little pricey but it’s worth every penny. This cooler is comparable to Yeti coolers, but quite a bit cheaper! The 52 Quart is a great size for travel and it keeps ice/food cold forever.
2. Take your time
Traveling with kids is probably going take more time. It’s really that simple. Plan for a few extra hours of travel time. Kids do much better if they’re able to stop and stretch their legs. On our last trip, we stopped at a Sonic during Happy Hour (1/2 price drinks and $.99 corn dogs!) and they had a picnic area. If you don’t want to stop at a fast food restaurant, you can always stop and have a picnic at any park.
3. Bring electronics
Yes, I am going to go here. “Back in the day” we traveled for hours without electronics, but they’re pretty handy for entertaining kids on the go. I don’t think that kids should need a screen to be happy, but having a portable or built in TV player or a Kindle Fire (we have 3!) does come in handy. We also have dual DVD players in our van, and I have to admit that I love them.
3b. Or don’t bring them
I recently took away my kids Kindles, TVs and video game consoles. There may be a blog post about this later! I do have to say that there is less fighting with less screen time. Just something to think about! Remember playing road games in the car? Maybe it’s time to bring back the tradition. Keep reading to the bottom to download a free printable “license plate” game!
4. Cook some of your own meals
Cooking some of the meals in your hotel room will save a lot of money. I recommend making sure that your hotel room is equipped with at least a mini fridge and microwave. If you can get a suite with a kitchenette or stay in a vacation rental, that is even better! If all else fails, bring a crock pot! There are so many meals that can be cooked in the crock pot, and it’s very portable.
5. Stay in a vacation rental
There are several reasons to stay in a vacation rental. The most important reason for families may be because they allow a larger number of guests. If you have a larger family, you may not be able to book one hotel room. Vacation rentals usually offer better options for families, at about the same price as a hotel room! Make sure to check out our post about the best vacation rental websites and why to use them. You can also use our link to save $40 off your first AirBnb rental!
6. Pack clothes in ziploc bags.
I have found it easier to pack clothes by the day in gallon size ziploc bags. If you choose to stay in a vacation rental, you can get away with packing less and washing clothes during your stay. I also highly suggest bringing a large wet bag for dirty clothes. I originally bought these for cloth diapers, but I have gotten so much use out of them for travel!
7. Bring back or invent some fun car games
Do you remember playing the “license plate game” or the “ABC game?” My sister and I used to play these in the car during our family travels. Come up with fun games (like the printable at the bottom!) and start making memories before you reach your destination.
8. Travel at night
If you have kids who just don’t do well in the car, traveling at night might be a good option. This isn’t something that we have done, but I know several people who prefer to travel while the kids sleep. If you are traveling with two adults, the adults can take turns sleeping and driving.
9. Just do it
Traveling with kids is a lot of work, but it’s also very worthwhile. My family did a lot of car traveling when I was a kid. At the time, I thought some things were pretty boring. Looking back, some of my favorite memories are from our family travels. I truly believe that doing things with kids is a far better gift than buying things for them.
Those are our 9 tips for travel with kids. Do you have anything to add to the list? We’d love to hear about it in the comments. As promised, I made a fun “License Plate Game” printable for your next road trip. Click here to grab your download. If you like this post, don’t forget to share it!