Millions of people are planning a vacation this year,and with the holidays right around the corner,tourists and their families will journey all across the country. Vacations can be rich,rewarding,and tons of fun,but when it comes to traveling with kids,staying safe,and navigating around large cities,fun can easily turn into frustration.
When on vacation with children,parents should set realistic expectations. The blaring sounds,busy streets,and new sights of a large city can be overwhelming to a young child. If you try to do too much too soon the excitement of a family vacation can quickly turn to temper tantrums.
Traveling with children can be a great pleasure for parents or a total disaster. Here are some practical tips from Tips4Trips.com to help ensure a happy and safe vacation with kids:
– Take along a package of outlet covers. Most hotel's don't provide these and outlets in hotel room are just the right height for children.
-When traveling with small wandering children,many parents worry about loosing their child. Before starting on the trip,visit a local hospital and ask if they will make one of those plastic bracelets for each of your children. Usually,they will. Then you can put whatever information you’d like on a slip of paper and insert it into the bracelet.
-Always keep a recent photo of your child in your wallet – in case you loose them in a crowed area,and need help in locating them.
-Pack an entire day’s worth of clothing,a change of clothes,sufficient disposable diapers,and food in a Ziploc bag. Make one Ziploc bag for each day of travel. Each day,one outfit goes on baby,the rest of the supplies go in the diaper bag and you are ready to go.
-Buy hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works or Linens ‘n Things – it works without water and is perfect for cleaning grimy,sticky hands when you can’t find a restroom.
-Buy an inexpensive camera (with flash) for children old enough to use it. The trip is then photographed from the child’s prospective. Then the child can create a memory book with his or her photos.
-Prior to your trip,prepare a homemade “book” with a page for each day you will be gone. Write the day/date at the top of each page. As you travel,your child can use any sit-down time to fill in what you are doing that day,draw pictures of interesting things you saw,paste brochures,or get the autographs of anyone – from your waiter to the occasional celebrity!
-Easy ID: To help identify your family quickly at the airport,dress everyone in matching colors.
-Snack-Time Tips: Juice boxes,easy-to-eat snacks,wipes,napkins and trash bags are important.
-Edible jewelry: This is a great project to occupy your children while you are walking,in the car,or on a train. Provide your children with sweetened cereal rings and string licorice. They can string the cereal into the licorice and make edible bracelets and necklaces. When they get hungry,they can snack off their finished products.
The experts at Babycenter.com also have great tips for keeping you and your children happy while on vacation.
– Bring a blankie and cuddly toy. A favorite blanket,special sheet,or stuffed animal helps a child or baby feel safe and secure. It can ease anxieties about being in a new place.
– Start and end your day early. Young children are at their best earlier in the d ay,so plan to travel or go sightseeing early in the Morning.
– Establish a routine and stick to it.
– Eat familiar foods. Toddlers are picky eaters,and it's hard enough finding goods they like at home,let alone while you're traveling. At a restaurant bring a supply of your child's favorite foods to keep him entertained while you enjoy your own meal
– Stay close to home base. Your baby's mood may be more unpredictable that usual when you're traveling,so establish a home base that you can return to quickly and easily. (hotel room)
– Schedule running around time for toddlers. After being cooped up in a car or stroller all day,most toddlers are eager to be let loose. Try and spend time every day at a park or playground.
“ I strongly believe that if you bring children on vacation with you,take time to plan what the kids are going to see and do,” said Dee Hoffman,founder and president of The Children's Concierge.
When planning activities for the kids,Hoffman recommends that parents think “less about words and more about actions and objects.” For example,one family that was planning on visiting the Textile Museum in Washington,D.C,wanted to know how to make the museum more interesting for their son. Hoffman recommended bringing their child's favorite pair of pajamas. This would allow him to figure out and see how his pajamas are made.
For large families traveling in cities,the thought of losing a child can be horrifying. Hoffman suggests that parents give each child a responsibility and something to carry. “ They'll all want you to pay attention to them so they won't go far,” she added.
Another fun idea to keep kids entertained on trips is to have a scavenger hunt. Parents can call the Children's Concierge and they will provide a scavenger hunt that the family can do while exploring the city.
“Most importantly,” said Hoffman,“ parents must remember that this is their vacation too. Have fun with the kids,but do things that will interest you also.”