There are lots of reasons to travel with your kids.
Maybe for your family, it's about wanting to learn about different people and places. It may be because you want to travel yourself and wouldn’t think of going without your kids. Maybe you just want to have fun as a family. These are great reasons to hit the road with your kids, and it doesn't have to be difficult. Here's a list of cool tips to make your journeys go a little smoother.
1. If it can't be used for more than one thing, it does not go on the trip.
I learned this one from camping with a toddler. No matter what kind of trip you are planning, or how old your child, make this a rule: Everything must be multipurpose. Camp dish pan? It should be large enough to bathe the baby. Your carry-on bag for your flight could also work as a picnic bag at your destination. Consider even using a soft-sided cooler as your carry-on.
2. When all else fails to entertain, look for rocks.
Pull the car over at the next rest stop and see who can find the prettiest rock. It works every time. (Well, maybe not with sulky teens.) There is something about picking up rocks that connects us to the Earth. Get in the habit of looking for rocks everywhere you go, and you and your kids have not only a free hobby, but one that involves learning when you spend time looking up what kind of rocks you found.
3. Give everyone a camera.
Phones are OK for taking pictures, but if your goal is to get the kids to put down the phones and tablets for a bit, put an actual camera in their hands. Taking photos for the pure joy of taking them, without the worrying about posting them immediately on social media is a creative way to get the kids interacting with each other and to really see the sites of the destination. All the major camera manufacturers have point-and-shoot models under $40. It's a worthwhile investment.
4. Earn miles like a mother!
Guidebook author and blogger, Shelly Rivoli, offered the following advice about collecting miles:
"Find your mileage program’s online shopping portal and use it with wild abandon. We earn ADDITIONAL frequent flyer miles every time I buy office supplies online (my card already earns miles for these), buy school clothing for the kids, order gifts to be shipped to relatives, and even make large home improvement purchases. Yes! I really did earn multiple miles per dollar for my replacement washing machine and refrigerator!"
5. Never leave home without baking soda.
There are so many uses for baking soda, that it should be a staple in your go bag when you travel with kids. Here's a short list of uses:
It works in place of forgotten toothpaste.
A paste made with water soothes bites and stings.
A little added to bath water helps with skin irritation —- everything from diaper rash to poison ivy.
Ever spill milk on the carpet in the car? Twelve hours later the smell is strong enough to make you want to abandon the car on the side of the road. Blot up as much as you can, then cover the spot with baking soda until you can get to a vacuum.
Sprinkle some in the bottom of beach bags to help prevent odor buildup from multiple days playing in the ocean.
Sprinkle some in everyone's sneakers or hiking shoes every night so your accommodations don't begin to smell like a locker room.
It can even be used as a dry shampoo on extended camping trips. Sprinkle a little in, then brush thoroughly.
6. LED lights are technology's gift to motherhood.
They are lightweight, don't eat batteries, and come in all sorts of functional devices.
Besides flashlights, look for flashing sneaker stickers or clip-on lights for nighttime visibility. Pick a different color for each child to make it easy to account for everyone on adventures after dark.
Pack LED nightlights for strange hotel rooms.
Look for entertaining light devices that put on a colorful show in the trees or in your hotel room — much safer than fireworks for Independence Day fun.
Decorate your campsite or cruise balcony with a string of battery-powered LEDs or LED flameless candles to make things more festive.
7. Know your child
That sounds basic, but travel can bring out the worst in all of us. Giving some thought to your child's temperament before you travel and planning accordingly can make a big difference in the success of the trip.
Rivoli says, "understanding your child’s dominant “temperament” traits — and how to best plan travel with those in mind — is the secret to happier family travels with kids of any age." She breaks it down to basic things such as energy level, mood, intensity and attention span.
(TravelPulse is a leading travel authority on the web, providing consumer travel news and insider tips and advice for an ever-changing travel world. Read more stories at travelpulse.com