Whether you’re flying to an international destination or taking an old-school road trip with your kids this summer, a little advanced planning can make a world of difference in your trip. Here are some of our favorite tips for traveling with the under-6 set. If your children are older, check out these 9 fun road trip ideas.
1. Buy a stash of small, inexpensive toys that you don’t unveil until the trip begins.
Then, as needed, whip out one new trinket at a time. Dollar stores are great. Another option is to put away some favorite toys a month ahead of your departure, and then bring them out on the trip.
2. While en route, let each child keep a small backpack or tote within arm’s reach.
Fill it with paper, crayons, a new coloring book, and a couple of picture books.
3. Snacks are golden.
Bring a stash of individually packaged favorites (you can make your own in snack-sized storage bags) to cure the munchies and provide a distraction.
4. If driving a long distance, let each child bring along a small pillow and blanket to encourage those back-seat naps.
5. Bring some family-friendly music.
Sometimes it’s helpful for everyone to just get lost in the beat.
6. This one works wonderfully! Tie a felt square on the seat in front of each child.
Give them pins or stickers to put on the felt to mark trip achievements: one hour without an argument, fast potty break stop, arriving in a new state (or even city), finish watching a movie, etc.
7. Before you hit the road, hit the library for books on tape.
Some sets come with an actual book, complete with little “bing” sounds to let your children know when to turn the page. Even sets without books will engage your children as they come up with their own pictures in their head while listening.
8. Treat it as a big adventure and maintain your sense of humor!
You’re making memories with your family that will be treasured—even if some of them seem like madcap “mis” adventures at the time.