Tips for Vacations and Family Trips

Tips for Vacations and Family Trips

by added on 25 June 2014, Comments Off on Tips for Vacations and Family Trips , posted in Blog

Vacations and family trips can be fun but can also be stressful. One of the secrets to traveling with young children is to be prepared. Preparations at home can involve children, decreasing stress in the long-run while teaching children responsibility. Including children in planning also offers time to talk together and enjoy each other, even before leaving home.

Parents often comment that packing can be a big job. Regardless of the age of the children, they can be helpful. Help them make a list of the items they need to wear each day; for example, pair of shorts, shirt, underwear, socks. Count the number of days for the trip, and then have the child make that number of piles to include one of each item on the list. Check the piles for the correct items, and then have the child slide each pile into a gallon Zip-loc bag. For a seven day trip, there will be seven sets of clothes, matched and ready to go. Decide together if any extra clothes are needed, depending on the destination. For example, the child may need a swim suit, an extra pair of shoes or sandals, and an event might require a dressier outfit (which can go in its own Zip-loc bag). Have your child stack the Zip-loc bags in his/her suitcase and find designated pockets or other identifiable places for other items. If everything is always returned to its designated place, nothing should be left behind at a hotel or at Aunt Emily’s. Remember to include a bag for dirty laundry. Using this system, your child can begin to take more control over his/her packing as s/he gets older until ultimately you are not involved.

Another source of stress can be entertaining children during travel. Before leaving home, help each child purchase a journal or notebook. Even toddlers can do this! Bring along a set of colored pencils that goes in a small backpack with the journal. At the end of each day, have your child dictate or write something about that day and illustrate it. Their perceptions and expressions can be delightful! Also, while traveling, children can draw what they see out the window. Once while driving across the Great Plains, one of our daughters drew two parallel lines that just got closer together as they approached the horizon on her paper. What she saw was just the highway and nothing else!

The child’s backpack should also contain maps and perhaps photos or travel brochures of sights and destinations. This is a great opportunity to learn map reading, even if your car has a GPS! Older children can study the maps ahead of time and help to plan the trip.

Family songs and games can be a great source of entertainment and build wonderful memories for all. Try singing such favorites as Old McDonald, Bingo, Down by the Bay, or others that you may remember from your childhood. You can also purchase CD’s with songs appropriate for young children and fun for adults as well. Games can sharpen children’s observation and language skills as well as increase communication and decrease competition among family members. Try working together to reach a goal such as finding five red trucks or seven dogs. Older children can play alphabet and memory games such as I’m going to Alabama with angry ants, followed by the next person who repeats this and adds a sentence with “b” words such as I’m going to Brazil with beautiful babies. If traveling by car, pack soccer balls, a Frisbee, or a ball and bat to let children burn off energy at frequent stops.


Family trips, both in planning and implementation, can be much-needed times for family members to enjoy being together and having fun together. Not everything will go smoothly, but advance preparation, a relaxed schedule, and flexibility will go a long way toward creating memorable vacations.

Cecile Mielenz | Director | Woodinville Family Preschool

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