Picture the perfect holiday, surrounded by your most cherished family members in cozy homes filled with joy, celebration and good tidings as adults laugh, children play and treasured memories are created. It’s a beautiful scene, until you realize that your nearest and dearest are actually hundreds or even thousands of miles away from you and your kids.
So what’s a parent to do? Plot your route, pack your bags, and giddy up! Over the river and through the crowds to grandmother’s house we go!
Here are some tips for making that trek a little easier.
Think easy, no-mess, traveling food. I like to stick with lunchbox favorites for some of my traveling staples, such as good ole nut butter and jelly spread on whole sprouted-grain bread for extra stamina; hummus, veggies, and tortilla wraps; apple slices; trail mix; carrot and celery sticks; or anything that is not sticky, sloppy, or spill-able.
Avoid the temptation to pack sugary treats to keep your little ones entertained and placated in the short term. Instead, look for healthy snacks you can make ahead to keep them energized, without the sugar spikes and crashes. Some good sweet alternatives include Apple Cinnamon Oat Squares and Lemon Treats.
(Oh, and don’t forget the sanitizing hand wipes for easy cleanup.)
Plan for the Plane
Make a special request. If food is served, know that you can request a “special diet” meal at no extra charge. Contact your airline to see what options they offer.
Drink up! Dehydration is both more likely and the effects more prevalent at extreme altitudes. So, when it comes to beverage choices on the plane, water is the best way to go to keep your kiddos hydrated, but if the allure of plastic cups and ice cubes is too great, try to avoid the high-sugar and caffeinated options that can dehydrate you further.
Don’t board the plane at the earliest possible moment. If your seats are reserved, stay in the terminal as long as possible, walking, jumping and getting everyone’s ya-yas out before the in-flight confinement begins.
On the road, stay away from convenience store food aisles. Instead, get everyone out of the car to do jumping jacks, stretch or run a quick lap around a field or a rest stop. Even if it’s cold out, take a few minutes to get your blood pumping. Look for roadside farm stands, locally owned markets and other colorful and memorable diversions when you need a stop along the way.
Savor the time
Relaxed and engaged time with your kids is a true holiday treat. No need to rush the fun. Encourage the conversation to wander and see where it goes. Some of my favorite things to share include simple poetry (A.A. Milne is a favorite), workbooks, letter writing and simple art crafts with colored pencils or even stickers.
Play classic car games. In the car, recreate some of your favorite childhood road trip moments: sing songs, play the alphabet game, “I Spy” and other classic car trip games. Kids might roll their eyes at first, but soon enough they’ll be playing along and you’ll definitely be making memories.
Keep them busy. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, ScrapKins eco-art projects from Whole Kids Foundation are a great way to keep little hands busy and create an opportunity to talk about making nutritious food choices.
Don’t worry, be happy. Consider this wisdom I once heard from a flight attendant, “Don’t worry too much. Your kids sound louder to you than they do to anyone else.” So stay calm, have fun and enjoy the adventure!
Do you have any tried and true tips for travelling with kids? What about wacky adventures? Share them in the comments below.