Tuesday, November 14, 2006

10 Tips to Make Holiday Travel with Children Tantrum Free

As the mother of adolescents I can still recall "meltdowns" and all that we did to avoid them when we traveled with our girls as babies, toddlers, and young children. Like the following author, I turned to my old Girl Scout Motto: "Be Prepared." I especially like her simple travel games. I found that there were times when what the children needed most was interesting interaction with us. We spent countless hours playing "I'm thinking of a famous person. - 20 questions". Funny, we still play these games when they get tired of entertaining themselves: just more mature versions.

Avoid Meltdowns While Traveling!
10 Tips to Make Holiday Travel with Children Tantrum Free

By: Penny Cohen
San Diego, Ca ( October 23, 2006)---As the holidays approach and families are beginning their preparations for traveling – be it to the beach to escape winter, theme parks, or grandma’s house for the holidays, the key is to be prepared. Family trips are often our best memories of our kids’ young years. The laughing, the discovery of new and exciting places, and for some just being away from home and experiencing life in a hotel room can be the best vacation ever. But traveling with young ones can be a challenge.

Penny Cohen, Child Development Specialist and Speech and Language Pathologist and Co-Founder of Tot-a-Doodle-Do! series of DVDs packaged with, easy-to-do crafts says the key to keeping kids from meltdowns while traveling is to be prepared.

“Keep this list of tips handy when you start to pack,” says Cohen. “It will be a great resource and help everyone have a safe and memorable trip.”

10 Tips for happy travel with children:

 If you can, plan to leave late, so they're only awake for a couple of hours of the trip - or time it for naptime so they sleep part of the way
 Bring hand held games/toys – a lot of toys are now available in hand-held models and can keep preschoolers busy.
 Meals can also help take up time. Pack plenty of yummy yet not messy foods and beverages in spill proof cups with straws. Aim for healthy snacks such as trail mix, cut-up apples, cheese cubes, food that will provide nutritional value.
 Listen to children’s CDs with stories or music. Many story tapes have books that go along with them. Consider purchasing mini tape recorders with earphones so they can control what and how many times they listen to the music or story.
 Buy small, relatively inexpensive toys and wrap them to surprise the kids.
 For car trips, consider renting a portable DVD or TV/VCR combo that plugs into a cigarette lighter if your car/van doesn’t come with one.
 Bring a tray for simple arts and crafts projects in the car.
 It's worth bringing a training potty if your child has need-to-go-NOW emergency. Pack some wipes as well and a plastic baggie. This is easier than trying to find a bush.
 Bring plastic cups; band aids, a dishtowel; Frisbee and ball for rest stops, and baby-wipes no matter how old your kids are.
 Explain your travel rules before the trip (ie. No kicking the seats. Keep your arms and legs to yourself. Always ask for things with “please” and “thank-you”). .

“Travel games are great for keeping kids occupied and also a wonderful opportunity to stretch their imaginations,” says Cohen. “Favorites such as ‘I Spy’ or ‘I’m Going on a Trip’ can engage kids of different ages and can turn a mundane trip into a lively one!”

Six fun travel games:

 “I Spy” - Pick out an object that everyone can see. Then give them a clue by saying, "I spy something ..." (Say its shape, color or size) The other players ask questions about what you see and you only answer with "yes" or "no". The first player who guesses right becomes the new spy.
 “I’m Going on a Trip?” - Start this game out by saying, "I'm going on a trip and I'm bringing..." . The first player should name an item. The next player will say the same thing and add another item and so on.
 “Guess the number” - Let your child think of a number between a stated range of numbers. You try to guess the number by asking questions. Here's a sample of how it might go: Your child: I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100. You ask: Is it more than 50?
 “Find the numbers” - Have the kids watch for numbers on streets and buildings, phone numbers on the sides of trucks and other vehicles, dates on buildings, or business signs with numbers in them
 “Circle Story” – One person starts making up a story and each person adds to the story. Let the story be silly, creative and fun.
 “20 Questions” – Have your child think of an object (ie. animal, food, toy….) and everyone can ask yes/no questions until you’ve asked 20.

For more information about Tot-a-Doodle-Do! products, please visit www.totadoodledo.com or call toll free 1-866-816-4997.

Let me add a few tried and true tips to this already great list:
1. Books on tape or CD are available at many public libraries. Some even allow downloads now. Stock up before you go on vacation. I can't read in a car, nor can one of my children; this solves that problem.

2. Make a master packing list on your computer for trips. I used the list with my children before they could read; progressed to checking their packing after they used the list; and now they are completely independent packers who still ask for my list before we go. Train them from early on to carry a bag or backpack with personal entertainment items. It gives them the feeling of control to know what's in the bag.

3. Pack a little surprise for each child. Novelty has it's place. Simple food treats, simple items from the dollar store, and unexpected craft - all will head off boredom and the subsequent tantrum.

4. If you can afford it, do not stay in an over crowded home with all of your extended family, or even a crammed hotel room. Having a roomy home base of your own allows you to discipline and rest. Let the kids spend the night with cousins, but also let them have a place to get away from all the overstimulation. Vacation rentals are of course my favorite respite when we are 3 days or more; suite hotels like Embassy Suites or Marriott Residence Inn are the next best thing.Enjoy the Holidays Without Meltdowns!


Lois said...

What a wonderful resource you are providing - wish it was around when my kids were young!

Another tip for a less stressful vacation - swap homes with another family with similar aged children and, once at your destination, your children will be occupied with lots of new toys, books and games (sometimes pets and local playmates too) in a child proofed home.

Do check out my blog, Travel the Home Exchange Way (link in my name above), for more information and visit the website, http://www.homebase-hols.com to browse current home exchange offers.

CarolK said...

We've abandoned hotel stays since we had the kids. We are now regular bookers of private vacation properties ...less hassle, less cost .. more freedom!