Are we there yet? Tips for traveling with children

Published in Behavioral Health Services Author: Stephanie McNaughton & Brittany Spah

The forecast is warm and sunny! Summer vacation season is almost in full swing. Going on a vacation that includes a road trip with children? Don’t forget to take some time to plan out how to make the “driving” part of the vacation go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Safety first. A long trip is a perfect time to evaluate if your child is in the right car safety seat for her age and height and that it is installed correctly.
  2. Pick a strategic travel time. If your child naps or sleeps well in the car, leaving around his nap or bedtime may help you get a few hours of peace and quiet and a strong start on your journey. If the ride doesn’t lull your child to sleep it may be a better idea to let him get a good night sleep or nap in before you head out, to avoid a meltdown and distraction to the driver.
  3. Plan your stops. Stopping every few hours will help break up the trip and allow your child to stretch her legs, use the restroom and eat a snack or meal. Try to find a place to stop that would give your child the opportunity to run and play for a few minutes to help her endure the next stretch of sitting time.
  4. Help pass the time. Talk with your child about what you see and where you are going. Play favorite music or audio books. Pack a bag with age-appropriate activities such as coloring or activity books, crayons, colored pencils, word finds and stickers. Adding an element of surprise such as a new small toy or game may help keep their attention longer.
  5. Have realistic expectations. Plan the length of the ride and time in between stops with your child’s age and temperament in mind. An overtired and hungry child is not pleasant for anyone, so do your best to create a driving schedule that sets them up for success.

Keep the ride as calm and enjoyable as possible and savor building lasting memories with your family.