Winter in Canada is LOOOOONG and my family finds that breaking up the dreary sunless months with a short vacation makes all the difference to our mental health! Plus it is a special, magical time for everyone in the family to get back to what is important...each other! No schedules, no hockey practice, no work emails, just time to reconnect and be together. Here are 7 tips I have amassed over the years of traveling with small children to make your vacation family-focused where everyone comes out a winner!
Bring Activities- Bring both electronic and non-electronic activities. Of course non-electric is "better for development" but sometimes we just need our kids to be entertained! For some idea's of non-electronic activities that are compact, fun and relationship focused - check out the Family Talk series by Discovery Toys (questions to stimulate discussion), Math keys- to practice those math skills while away. Tricky Fingers- such a fun game to play solo or against a parent/grandparent.
2. Pack LOTS of Snacks. More is better in this situation! Bring lots of munchies for the travel component and other times when food is not readily available. My kids always eat less on vacation (they like the taste of home cooking better!) so I know with my stash of healthy snacks I can get some good nutrition into them at some point. Not sure about you, but my kids meltdown much easier when they are hungry. Just another reason to pack extra snacks. My favourite brand to pack is "Made Good". They have these banana chocolate chip granola balls that are to die for. Plus they have veggies in them so win win!
3. Bring a "security" object. For some children being away from home can be somewhat distressing. My kids were always just happy to be wherever I was, so never had to worry about this. But if you think your may have some difficulty make sure you bring a security object or "lovey from home. A particular blanket or favourite stuffy that smells like home can provide an enormous amount of security for weary little ones. Just make sure it isn't too cumbersome for you to lug around!
4. Take care of yourself! If you have ever flown you know the drill about the oxygen masks...put one on yourself first before helping your child put on theirs! Well it really is good advice for your entire travel experience. When we travel it is easy to let caffeine, sugar and alcohol consumption to get a little out of hand. All good, but make sure you have back up care for your kids or try to be conscious of your consumption. These three can quickly ruin a good vacation.
5. Take tonnes of pictures Document your vacation! Take tonnes of pictures. Be that annoying tourist. When you get home take some time to put them into a book or online album. Share them with your kids often. This is not only a fun activity for your kids, but it helps build memory. If you go over and over the same pictures with them you will help them keep those synapses and experiences alive.
6. DPA. Daily Physical Activity. They do it in school so they should be used to the routine and the notion that they need to run, stretch and balance everyday. This is probably a given when you have young children, but remember to do it ESPECIALLY on those long travel days! When sitting for a long amount of time, make sure you schedule some DPA! Kids are good at making up ways to move their bodies. Ask them if you are stuck for ideas.
7. Live in the Moment. It's really a good goal for all the time, but especially make it a top priority while on vacation. Leave your phones, lap tops and iPads at home. Try to disconnect from the work world (they won't die without you!) and reconnect with the most important people in your life! Try to say YES more often. Now is the time to agree to ice-cream before lunch and late bedtimes. Don't worry that this will turn into a bad habit. Vacation is special and different and kids get that! Enjoy your surroundings and the people in them. Once you have mastered this, try to bring a little back to your "real life" chaos!
Enjoy! I would love to hear your tips for travel with kids! Drop me a line below or email firstname.lastname@example.org