Travel Tips for Families part 1

We took our kids off road to the top of a mountain in Utah!
Our family has always enjoyed traveling.  My husband and I have been known to be adventurous, so heading out on the road full-time in our camper was not a surprise to many who knew us.  So, after three years on the road, I would say I am an expert on traveling with children. 
I would like to share some of my ideas to help your travel be more pleasant, educational, happy, peaceful, exciting, practical, and affordable.
Starting off our trip in 2008, I had five children ranging in age from 15 months to 16 yrs old.  Two weeks after our house sold I got the confirmation that I was pregnant with number six!  So, I may be able to help you out if you travel pregnant!
Preparation is one of the keys to a good trip.  But, there are times when we have no time to prepare for travel and adventure - so do it anyways!  Enjoy what you can, forget the rest!
Preparation can make a trip much more enjoyable and easy but the lack of preparation should not make you feel guilty or disappointed.  At that point, when you have to be more spur-of-the-moment, make the choice to enjoy yourself no matter what.  That positive attitude will transfer to your spouse and children.

Hopefully you will have time to prepare before you head out, whether it be for a day or a month, or like us - since 2008!  Thinking of the little things will help everyone have a more enjoyable time; a positive memory instead of one that is wrought with arguing, discomfort, and chaos.  Which, by the way, I have had plenty of those!
Some basic things to think about:
  • Full children are happy children.  Actually, that goes for husbands, too.  Bring plenty of snacks and food along.  Try to limit sugar as their car seats are difficult to contain a wild child.
  • Bring tons of water.  Everyone can have their own water bottle.  Everyone in our family has their own stainless steal water bottle that they are responsible to carry.  Of course, this excludes the young ones.  The camel backs are also quite handy.  They hold water in a backpack that has a tube that comes over the shoulder and a nozzle to drink out of.  This is quite handy.  They can get expensive, so price shop these.
  • Eat protein for breakfast, before heading out.  It will help give everyone the energy they need.  Garbage/junk food just makes for grouchy, wild children.
  • I take vitamin b-12 under the tongue to help me with stress :)
  • Saltine Crackers, the wheat variety, and peanut butter are great to bring along.  Just remember plates, napkins, and a knife.  I try not to pack anything sticky, like fruit cups or applesauce; it is just too much mess.
  • For more food ideas check out my book, coming out soon, about traveling with kids.
  • Bring two extra sets of clothes per person.  Make sure each has a warm set and cool set.  A couple extra pairs of socks.  We all have our own sun hat that covers our ears.  It keeps our sunblock usage lower.  I don't like putting any extra chemicals in our body, if not necessary.  Now, I'm not saying I don't use sunblock, I do, just only when necessary.  Usually a sun hat make a huge difference.  Sunblock is essential for those situations where clothing will not be enough coverage. 
  • We always carry a set of rubber boots for each person so we can jump in any random river or lake we come across.  If the water is cold the boots help keep out the cold water.  They are also great in mud.  If you can't afford to buy rubber boots for everyone, at least bring a set of flip flops for everyone.
  • Pack a picnic blanket that is not made out of material that things stick to it.
  • Find a small notebook for each child.  I don't like to have my kids run around with sharp, long pencils, so crayons or short colored pencils work great.  If you don't have a small notebook, just staple together paper and write their name on the front.  I encourage them to draw what they see.  It is a great way to get them looking out the window and learning to appreciate what is in this amazing creation.
  • If going to a friend or relatives home it is always nice to come with a gift.  All the kids can draw pictures on the way and then present them to the friend or relative.  Is there a gift unique to your home area?  Sometimes we crochet a washcloth on the way to give to anyone we visit. 
  • We always go over the rules that pertain to the place we are going.  Whether it be a museum, park, relatives, national park, hiking, biking, four-wheeling, or swimming, we discuss what is safe and unsafe, appropriate and not, how to act and what they can do.  I always end it with the rule they cannot break, no matter what, or they have to sit in the car (not really) - HAVE FUN!  They always laugh when I tell them that rule.
  • Is your camera charged?  Extra SD cards?  Cell charged?  Do you have your video camera along with extra tapes/sd cards? 
  • Send a picture text to friends and relatives of your family enjoying where ever you have gone.  It is nice to always include others in what you are doing.
More ideas will be added on this page soon.  Check back.
For a full list of supplies, idea, recommendations, and advice for full-time travel, purchase Sheri's guide to travel with a family, coming soon.