Traveling With Kids: Keeping Them Happy And Satisfied

Ideas on how to make traveling with kids a good experience.

Traveling with kids can be a nightmare -- or a dream. It all depends on how you prepare for your trip, and how well occupied your kids are.

First, before the trip, foster a family togetherness environment (especially if your kids are likely to fight). Emphasize how important it is to have fun together and get along. If necessary, directly request that your kids don't fight in the car.

It's not necessary to have a plethora of toys, games, DVDs, video games, and more in your car. You don't need any kind of video equipment or anything fancy. You do, however, need ways to keep your kids entertained.

Buy some small, cheap travel games (only the ones your kids actually like). Make sure your children have their absolute favorite toys packed in a "car bag" to take on the ride with them. Bring some books along for them to read (if they can). For the most part, whatever you have in your house already will be enough to keep your kids entertained.

As far as snacks go, they can keep hungry children from whining as you search for the next decent place to stop. Bring along what they like, but also what you want them to eat. Think crackers, pretzels, fresh fruit, and other food that's not messy and will travel nicely. Bring drinks, too: preferably ones that can't spill (think unspillable sippee cups and bottles that have reclosable lids). Put the snacks in a location where YOU can reach them, but your kids can't. When they are hungry, get them out and hand them over (giving them only what you want them to have, and making sure each child gets the same amount or what he wants, so there's no fighting about who has the better snack).

It's best to leave early in the morning, when your kids are still sleeping. Wake them up, get them dressed (no shoes) and strap them into the car. Have it completely packed before you wake them up so you're basically ready to leave. Make sure you have diapers or Pull-ups for kids who aren't quite potty-trained, or are newly potty-trained.

Encourage your kids to sleep in the car for as long as they can. If any are prone to car sickness, ask your doctor about medicine, and give it to them before you leave.

When your kids wake up, be ready to take a break. Make sure you take semi-frequent breaks: at least every two hours. If your kids are getting very restless, take a break and let them run around (the older they get, the less they'll care about breaks).

Have access to the toys you've brought with you, and be ready to hand your children a toy if they say they're bored. Encourage them to play a car game together if they get along. Put on music to listen and sing to. Read stories (if you're not the one who's driving!). Bring books on tape to listen to.

As long as you have a reasonable amount for kids to do, they still have meals when they're hungry, and they get time to run around every couple of hours, traveling with them should be no problem at all.

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