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Turning vacation travel into learning opportunities.

Tried-and-true strategies to consider employing as you become a master planner for family travel.

Tried-and-true strategies to consider employing as you become a master planner for family travel.

Adults understand that travel can be exhausting and gear up for the physical demands and boredom that often accompany long days on the go, but young children can only stand so much. That’s why successful and stress-free travel with young children takes planning. Start by considering your children’s daily rhythms and comparing their needs to the demands of an upcoming journey. Then, formulate plans to alleviate obvious challenges. If, for example, you have a young child who doesn’t like to sit still and you have a car or plane ride coming up, be sure to pack some enjoyable activities to keep your child occupied. If the challenge is extended periods between meals, be sure to pack healthy snacks and bring water bottles to keep children’s energy and mood up—simply ensuring children are fed, hydrated, and entertained will take most of the trouble spots out of a potentially arduous trip. Here are some tried-and-true strategies to consider employing as you become a master planner for family travel.

  • Review the Itinerary and Offer Choices. Go over the schedule and give your children choices for how best to entertain themselves on different segments of your travels. Knowing what is coming and having a bit of control over how to pass the time while stuck waiting for the next transition will significantly affect how much energy children have to get through being bored or uncomfortable.
  • Include Academic Activities. Watching and playing with electronics is an obvious strategy for keeping kids busy, but many children get grumpy when they have too much screen time. Add paper and markers to your entertainment kit and consider packing a book, a kid’s magazine with problem-solving activities, a deck of cards, and a small portable game or two for more beneficial pastimes.
  • Make a Game Out of Rushed Transitions. Our worst parenting moments come when we are under time pressure, and children are adept at reading our stress levels and taking some of the weight of our anxiety onto their own shoulders. Try making a game out of who can keep up and find the best pathways through meandering travelers on your next dash through the airport to make a flight. You will find the game has your family laughing instead of shouting. There will be another flight, so your kids might as well have some fun as a reward for their efforts to get through the ordeal.
  • Learn About Your Surroundings. Take the opportunity to point out things you see along the way that you don’t always see at home. Make a game out of being the first to identify the river and bridge you are about to drive over; look at different kinds of clouds before a plane trip and see how many clouds you can each name; talk about the function of oil rigs, barges, and water towers so your children learn more about the world around them.

Both you and your children will benefit significantly from the care you put into being travel-ready, so best of luck putting your plans into effect this summer. Remember, the journey can be as important as the destination if you do it right.

…video series:

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