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Summer is in full swing and it's time to hit the road. There are oceans to be splashed, mountains to be hiked and McDonald's to be thrown up in. Family trips are the stuff of legends. Let's makes these memories the best ones that we can without losing our minds.
To help your vacation plans go smoother with your little ones, here are 5 tips for avoiding travel meltdowns.
Snacks can quickly quiet even the fussiest of little humans. On a recent road trip to Disney, my wife packed more snacks than we could ever need on the road. She'd filled a large sized Tupperware (do people still say Tupperware or is that an 80s thing?) with snacks of all varieties. The box was clear so anyone could easily see what they wanted before the box was even opened. It was awesome!
There was a good mix of salty and sweet plus dried fruit. All the goodies were prepackaged and ready to go. No looking for spoons or napkins, these treats were easy to store and could be eaten with one hand. Pair it with a trash bag and snacking on the road has never been easier.
This idea came directly from a reader, John H. His advice was to pack glow sticks for the kids. Nope, not just for fun, but to use inside dark, new places like hotel rooms. Kids are unfamiliar with the new territory so the glow sticks provide a fun, safe way to find their way around.
The glow sticks can be given to the kids as low wattage flashlights or can be placed around the room as a glowing map of light switches, furniture and bathrooms. They can also be used for going out at night. Give your kids a few to decorate themselves and you can keep track of them after dark.
Parents everywhere know to pack extra clothing for kids. Extra shirts, pants and underwear are always needed for small kids. Whether you’re going to the beach for a day or walking the Magic Kingdom, chances are your kids aren’t going to end the day with the clothes they started out with. But don’t forget about the adults. Make sure you bring spare clothing for yourself too. You never know when your son is going to “share” his chocolate ice cream with your favorite shirt.
Your child will always need something. It’s as certain as death and taxes. So you better take everything with you on a trip. No, I’m not kidding. So what are you going to carry a lovey, snacks and extra pacifiers in? Thankfully for dads diaper bags have gotten better over the years. We don’t have to ignore the stares from single guys anymore, we can rock out our own daddy style.
Que Eye of the Tiger.
I’m a big fan of the High Speed Daddy Tactical Diaper Bag Backpack. I carried this pack for 33 miles across Disney World this spring and it did everything I needed and had room for more. While my kid is out of diapers, it was great for snacks, extra clothes, sunscreen and everything else I needed. The wipe pocket is easy to access and the changing mat is a great bonus. So if you need a travel bag, this one won’t let you down. You can read my full review here.
Travel when they Sleep
No one wants to be trapped in the car with a hyper or grumpy toddler. No one. To avoid this survival of the fittest scenario I suggest you hit the road at nap time. Some kids are great about sleeping in the car, others - like mine - not so much. That’s why we timed our departure with our standard nap schedule. This way your child’s natural rhythm will want to rest while snuggled tight in their car seat.
For longer trips, you may want to consider driving at night. A fellow dad told me that for his 12 hour family drives back home that night time was the right time. Driving at night with a little one has it’s advantages. It’s their natural sleep time, it’s cooler and traffic shouldn't be bad through major cities. Plan to nap as much as you can the day before and only stop at places you know for rest breaks. Sketchy rest stops at 2am is not where you want to be with your family.
Enjoy your summer! Pack up the family and discover the wild blue yonder. Just remember the snacks. If you’re heading to Disney, see my list of top 10 things dads need to know before they go.
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