Those who have traveled with children know about keeping the kids occupied while traveling – coloring, iPad games, etc. Keeping the kids busy during travel generally makes for a calmer, less stressful trip for everyone. But can we have an even better trip by getting started on a better note as well?
Our friend Henry Moore, The Fitwell Traveler, shared some good advice with us about involving your children in travel plans. Henry noted, “Kids are great sources of energy and fun. If you can harness their energy and excitement for the big trip, you can make packing and preparing the home a fun (and efficient) experience for all.” Henry also shared, “We all dream of having the perfect vacation from beginning to end—free from worry, anxiety, and frustration. If you’ve ever traveled with kids, then you know that this is in fact a dream, and most parents have experiences similar to the opening scenes of the “Home Alone” movies: the entire family scrambling around, packing last minute, and frantically running through an airport to catch their flight.”
So if you want to avoid a similar situation, and ensure that your vacation gets off to the right start, read a few of Henry’s ideas on how to reduce the headache of vacation preparations.
1. GIVE YOUR CHILDREN MORE RESPONSIBILITY
The struggle faced by most parents about to embark on a trip with their kids is juggling the task of preparation with the task of parenting. Your first and most valuable step to cutting out this hassle is to meld the two tasks together. Give your children pre-vacation responsibilities to carry out on their own. Doing so will achieve a couple of things. First, your children will remain occupied throughout the preparation process, giving you more time to focus on your own tasks. Secondly, if you divvy out the right kind of chores for them to handle, then you can seriously cover a lot of ground in a lot less time.Some easy tasks they can accomplish on their own include packing their own bags or cleaning out their rooms. If you really trust your kids, then you might give them more crucial tasks such as holding on to the roadmap. This will not only keep them occupied, but also teach them a valuable lesson on responsibility.
2. CLEAR OUT YOUR FRIDGE THE NIGHT BEFORE
If you’re about to leave the home for a week or more, then there are probably a few items in your fridge doomed to expire while you’re away. If this is the case, you can do your best to clear out all the perishable items in your fridge the night before you leave. Make it a fun, eat-whatever-you-like kind of night with your kids. Any food or beverages that uses up milk, meat, or veggies would make great meals for you and your kids, while also reducing the amount of waste.
3. WRITE OUT A VACATION CHECKLIST
This is a no-brainer for getting your vacation off to a smooth start. Coming up with a vacation checklist will help keep you and your family organized. In fact, make several copies of your checklist and give it to your children as well. Keep your checklist’s language simple enough for them to understand on their own. Sharing the pre-vacation checklist will get everyone on the same page and help your children see the big picture by reducing the process down to a few easy-to-understand tasks.
4. SECURE YOUR HOME WITH A HOUSE INSPECTION GAME
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your home is safe and secure before you head out the door. These should be some of the last tasks you carry out before finally hitting the road, but they are also some of the most important things to complete before you leave. This includes latching screens on windows and doors, adjusting the thermostat, turning off the water, and securing any outdoor furniture to prevent it from being blown or carried away. Once again, these are some tasks you can split among your family, reasserting the importance of responsibility and making sure the home is safe while away. Make it a home inspection game and give everyone an area to inspect before hitting the road.