Parenting

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Summer Travel Survival Guide

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@hellosplendidblog

Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.” —John Mayer

Oh, summer. Great expectations! It’s exciting and overwhelming when you’re navigating all that summer throws at you—vacations, road trips, family reunions, summer camp, personal projects, house to dos, and the always elusive down time. I’ve got a few tips to help you make the most out of your summer travel and come out the other side refreshed and full of vibrant family memories.

OUTLINE A PLAN

Get your floating thoughts and worries out of your head and onto paper, or a google doc. Think through the logistics and do whatever you can ahead of time to limit your stress while on your journey. Stressed about your kids’ first flight to Grandma’s? Sit down, map it out, calculate the time you need to leave your house, and your packing list. If you’re traveling with a partner or spouse, talk through logistics together and assign various tasks to each other so you’re not carrying the weight of a family vacation on your shoulders. It’s better together!

KEEP EXPECTATIONS LOW

Want to ruin a perfectly good time with your family? Expect it to be perfect—no crying, no whining, no last minute potty breaks, no skipped naps. Know that things, lots of things, will go awry when you’re traveling with kids. All you can do is go into knowing that you’re going to have to be flexible and make the most of every day. And remember that kids are easy to please. Even if it seems “ruined” to you, your kids are probably just excited to be on vacation, no matter what they’re doing.

PACK GOOD FOOD

As soon as the kids (or the parents) start to get hungry, things fall apart. Is that as true for you as it is for us? So if you’re heading out on a long road trip, a flight across the country, or even a short day trip, don’t forget to pack lots of delicious healthy food. Get a great cooler and fill it with high protein, easy-to-eat snacks like nut butters, low-sugar yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, string cheese, apple sauce, whole grain crackers, and no-nitrate deli meat. Pack a few treats you’ll all get excited about, too! Don’t forget spill proof sippy cups for everyone in the car.

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PLAN DOWN TIME

We like to pick 1-2 key things to do in a day and let the rest happen as it will. For example, we could plan for three hours at the beach and a picnic lunch, but if the kids are too tired and hot, we leave early and pick up In n’ Out on the drive home. No problem. Or if you a napping baby or toddler, work around their sleep schedule. Plan your day’s activity so they can get a nap at the Airbnb or in the stroller.

If you’re going to be inside a lot at a museum, expect to spend a few hours outside at a park afterward. Or if you’re braving an amusement park, plan to spend breaks here or there to unwind, rest, and snack.

CREATE NOVELTY

If you’re flying or driving, pack a few small toys and snacks your child doesn’t ordinarily get to eat or play with. A lollipop for the plane. A fidget spinner for the car. Audiobooks and podcasts for the car. Window stickies for the window seat. A new sticker book, doll, or Lego figurine will do wonders in keeping your child entertained.

Create novelty for yourself too! Buy a magazine, get your nails done before your trip, pick a “vacation scent” and wear it throughout your trip.

SAY YES

A vacation is a vacation for a reason. Loosen up and let the small things go. Another cookie? Sure. Stay up a little late with cousins? Absolutely. Say yes to the small things that make your child incredibly, deliciously happy. Because it’ll make you happy too.

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@laurahignight_

So, I want to hear. What are you doing for fun this summer? If you’re driving or flying, what do you do to make the most of the journey? Any tricks to keep kids entertained in the car or a plane? Share your thoughts in the comments below or comment on Instagram @munchkininc.

Koseli Cummings

Koseli is a copywriter based in the Bay Area whose clients include Airbnb, Penguin, Red Tricycle, and Design Mom. When she's not writing or podcasting, you can bet she's at a Berkeley park with her four boys.