Whether you're traveling with toddlers, teens or kids in between, you know that the dreaded "Are we there yet?" is not just an urban myth. A bit of planning before your next family trip can go a long way to an enjoyable adventure for everyone. For instance, healthy foods shouldn't lose their priority just because you're not at home. In addition, don't try to orchestrate each moment. At times, actively engaging your children works well. At other times, just letting them zone out with a movie or their favorite games may be a better strategy.
Use Public Transportation
No matter where you're going, riding in the backseat of a car is about as exciting for children as a trip to the local grocery store. Even if taking a plane or a train to your destination isn't possible, once you get there, consider using public transportation as much as possible. Children love the novelty of buses, streetcars and boats or ferries. An increasing number of cities now have apps for their public transportation systems that make it easy to plan routes and find out when the next bus arrives.
Tablets for Fun and Games
A tablet loaded with your kids' favorite games, e-books and movies can keep your kids entertained for hours. If they can watch their favorite movies, a tablet can also alleviate the sense of homesickness and a longing for normalcy that often comes with a long trip. Turn-based games can give the kids the opportunity to interact while sharing a tablet. Since Internet access can be questionable while you're between destinations, it's important to plan ahead by downloading movies before you leave home. Don't forget the charger and headphones.
Giving a child a camera during a trip not only gives her something to do during those inevitable dull moments, but also makes her an active part in documenting your journey. Point and shoot digital cameras are not very expensive so you shouldn't have to worry about it getting dropped. Even toddlers can be shown how to point the camera and push the button, and their photos may give you a new perspective on a trip too -- even if the photos are all from the knees down.
Bring Your Own Snacks
Airports and highway rest stops aren't known for their selection of healthy foods, and a diet of junk food doesn't help with motion sickness or keeping kids happy and energized. You may not have time the morning before a big trip to make extra meals. However if you make a few sandwiches a day beforehand, you can keep them in the fridge until you're ready to leave (and leave off the condiments until you are ready to eat). Apples, carrot sticks and other healthy snacks can keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days and quickly grabbed before you head out. Favorite cereals also make a good snack.
Photo Credits: Describe the Fauna/Demand Media
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