Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guess where we are going next? Plus tips on what to pack for comfortable kids during #FamilyTravel

Over the past week or two, we completed booking not one, but two exciting family trips for 2015. Up next in our family adventures? Washington D.C. and (soooo excited about this) a Disney Cruise!

Our 6 1/2 year old daughter is a school whiz and always eager to learn. Her first grade class studied presidents and other historical figures earlier in the year, and she has been asking us many questions about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Washington D.C. was actually her idea; she really wants to see the Lincoln Memorial! When a child asks to see something educational, I believe the only answer (if you can afford it) is an emphatic yes. In additional to the Lincoln Memorial, our upcoming Washington D.C. adventures will probably include the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Natural History and American History museums - she is going to be blown away seeing Lincoln's actual hat!

We have a while to wait for our Disney cruise and I am antsy with anticipation! We have always heard rave reviews about Disney Cruise Line, but the price was always nearly double that of other cruises. We finally found a price worth jumping on and the deposit has been paid! Stay tuned late in 2015 for our review of what I hope to be a wonderful, magical vacation including themed dining, Castaway Cay, and what looks to be an awesome water coaster water slide. 

Another family beach trip is also on the 2015 horizon and that is always a fun time with extended family. Clearly, we are a traveling bunch! We enjoy making wonderful lifelong memories visiting places away from home. With our travel history, I am now pretty speedy when it comes to packing luggage for kids. Clothes including socks and swimsuits, shoes, toiletries, diapers/wipes if needed, and a few toys and books are typical inclusions in the bag.

Here are a few other must-have items that we have found to reduce whining during family travel:

An in-flight or in-car bag of their very own
Amelia has a fun and colorful small rainbow tote bag that she brings along when we travel. She is allowed to pack whatever she wants into it for entertainment as we venture towards our destination. This is a good activity for age 5 and up. Make sure the child understands that care has to be taken not to lose items when they leave the house so, sometimes, the world's most prized possession is not the wisest choice. Amelia usually selects books and crayons and small toys. Letting her do it herself means she will be happy with her entertainment options as we travel. It also means she won't want the electronic devices every single minute.

A travel pillow and special blanket
If we are driving, the pillow and blanket both go into the car so they can snuggle and feel a little bit more "just like home" if they want to nap. If we are flying, the blanket usually goes in the luggage to keep it clean. Having a pillow and blanket from home helps the kids to feel more comfortable and relaxed when we are sleeping in an unfamiliar place.

Swim and sun gear
Even if we do not have dedicated plans for swimming, I toss in a few swim diapers and swimwear just in case. We often book hotels with indoor pools if we are traveling in/to weather that is not warm. An evening swim after a day full of activities usually brings lots of giggles and splashing fun with a good night's sleep at the end. I also make sure to bring hats and sunscreen because the sun is out there year-round. Sunburns do not make for comfortable traveling children.

Snacks. Always snacks!
This is the most must-have at all times, in my opinion. Hungry kids are grumpy little beings who do not care to see sights or do much of anything (actually, I'm not so nice myself when I feel hunger pangs). Feed those kids and keep their bellies happy! I usually bring along some special favorite junk food for a bit of fun during a flight or long drive. Sour patch kids are a favorite. Plus, of course, snacks that can keep those tummies from grumbling like pretzels or crackers.

Hand wipes
Okay, the kids could care less about this item. But moms and dads like it! Vacation destinations can have tons of germs. I'm not totally anti-germ, but I do prefer my family travel weeks to be vomit-free when at all possible. We have some norovirus horror stories from theme parks! So I include wipes on my travel necessity list. We wipe the tray table on the airplane and little hands periodically, especially after having touched something that a thousand kids have touched (or sneezed on) that day.   

These items are permanently on my travel packing lists, and I cannot wait to pack them up for our first big trip of 2015.

President Lincoln, we are coming for a visit! Get ready for a little girl who will revel in her new experience. (And for a baby boy who really won't care... no offense, Mr. Lincoln.)
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