family travel

Traveling with kids can be stress free by following these simple tips

Us parents are a brave bunch, aren’t we? With the prospect of meltdowns occurring while we hurtle along the highway at rapid speeds, we hope that this year, it will be different.

No drama, no stress, no screaming or crying kids in the backseat -  sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? For those of us who have braved the roads with multiple meltdowns happening just behind the passenger seat and beyond, we anxiously set upon each new family road trip with a silent prayer to the vacation gods that they will keep our kids not only safe but quiet as well.

As one who tempts fate yearly embarks on a road trip annually with the family on what has become a tradition, I’ve learned the hard way about what works - and what doesn’t. For the unprepared, a packed vehicle that includes three children and a lengthy jaunt to distant locales can easily turn into a recipe for disaster. Experience this scenario once and you’ll vow to never put yourself in that position again.

I was recently asked to provide my top tips and advice to the Toronto Star for an article in the newspaper’s Summer Driving Special Section. It was a (pleasant) surprise to see that it ran on the front page of the section as well as with a picture of the family packing up the car (see below).

For the full text of the article, you can read it here: The Toronto Star - Surviving a Family Road Trip

For more tips and advice about how to travel with kids, check out some of my other posts on the topic:

And for those who would rather not go too far afield:

Summer Driving section edited

And if you’re still looking for tips on how to travel with kids, check out my YouTube video on the topic here:

VIDEO: How to Travel With Kids - Top 5 Tips For Parents

So what do you to to keep the kids calm and quiet during your family road trips? Are there any additional tips that you’d add to my list? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Top 10 Tips For Surviving a Road Trip With Kids

by Samantha on August 1, 2013


“Are we there yet?”

Those four little words are ones that every parent dreads as the family makes it way on yet another road trip. If you’re planning to take a spin in the car, kids, parents, pets and all, you may want to read on for some tips and strategies for keeping your sanity while traveling down the highway.

Following are the top 10 tips for surviving a road trip with kids:

1) Map it Out - It may seem obvious but know where you’re going before you hit the road. Map out your destination through Google Maps or a similar, including where you’re going to stop (rest stops) and have technological backup. Make sure that your car is outfitted with a reliable GPS or similar navigation system that provides clear instructions on how to get to your vacation locale. And while technology is great, always have an old-school map that includes your full route available in the car. The last thing that you want to happen is to have a tech fail while you’re in the middle of a remote location with a car full of cranky kids.

2) Be on the Money  - Having financial troubles while traveling with the kids is the last thing anyone wants to experience. Being short on cash, maxed out or surprised at how much you’ve spent before even reaching your destination is upsetting to say the least. Have a solid budget in place before you hit the road and stick to it. As well, set financial expectations with your kids at the same time so that there are no surprises. If there’s going to be a limit on the amount of money spent on food and other miscellaneous items while traveling, it’s best to let the little ones in on the plan now.

3) Auto-Tune - Your vehicle - the one that’s going to take you and your precious cargo abroad - must be in tip-top shape in order for your trip to be a success. Before heading out on the open road, get a full tune-up to put your mind at ease. Fill the tires, change the oil and don’t forget to fill up the tank so that you can drive for a while before stopping for gas. The last thing you want to deal with is a flat tire or worse with a carload of cranky kids.

4) Juice Up the Devices - I’ll get to technology in a second, but remember: gadgets are no good to you if they’re dead. This is particularly the case when you’re in desperate need of your portable GPS while driving through the Mojave Desert or your three kids are having a monumental meltdown in the backseat that will only be quelled by their favorite movie on the DVD player or iPad. Charge everything to 100% before you head out the door so that you’re set for a time at the outset. And on a related note, don’t forget to bring along the car chargers, iPod cords and any other auxiliary connectors that can work  in the car as well. You’ll need them once the juice runs out of the gadgets after a few hours (or less).

5) Take the Tech - These days, having digital devices and gadgets to entertain the kids (and the parents) while on a road trip is a must. Arm yourselves like you’re going into battle and pull out all the technological stops. These include but are not limited to: headphones, a DVD player (if not included in the vehicle itself), a laptop/iPad/e-reader or smartphone loaded with movies, stories and games, a USB key loaded with movies, shows and games, etc. Yes - books - the old fashioned kind - are great, but your child’s favorite movie on a DVD player complete with headphones is sometimes greater 😉

6) Hit the Washroom - Before you leave, make sure that everyone - including the adults - makes a visit to the washroom. First off, the best way of breaking the road trip momentum is having to stop for a restroom break before you’ve even gotten your driving stride. On a related note, let’s not mention how gross some pit stop bathrooms can be as well.  You’ll have to deal with them during your drive, for sure, so if you can minimize the number of visits, you’re ahead of the game.

7) Take Lots of Breaks - This is both for the kids and the parents. If you’re splitting the driving between two people, it’s important that both parties are rested and comfortable. Alternate driving often, for sure, but stop to take a rest whenever possible. This could mean a quick five-minutes for everyone to get out of the car and stretch their legs to avoid cramping. While it may seem to make more sense to drive through with as little breaks as possible, it’s actually dangerous to do so. Leg cramps, fatigue and highway hypnosis are very real results of trying to do the road trip in as little time as possible. Avoid long bouts of driving for either party and get to your destination safely.

8) Old School Play - Sure - tech is great. What kid doesn’t love an iPad or the latest movie playing on a DVD while traveling down the highway? That being said, there’s something quite quaint and compelling about some of the ways that previous generations entertained themselves while traveling by car. These include  Highway Bingo, 20 Questions or a License Plate Bingo. Heck - even an old-fashioned deck of cards can go a long way for kids strapped into the back seat for a long drive down the highway. Bring some portable or travel-sized games: Scrabble comes to mind for older kids; for the younger ones, consider options like Go Fish or even things as simple as crayons and paper. And on this note, you’ll need what’s suggested in tip #7

9) A Flat Surface - It sounds so trivial but believe me when I say that without this, you will have problems. The kids will go out of their minds when they’re not able to balance their games, toys, DVD players and gadgets. Make sure to have a sturdy and usable surface on which the children can lay out their toys, games, gadgets. You won’t regret it.

Lapgear Mydesk, Blue (45343)

10) Comfort Food - Yes, part of the fun of going on a road trip is the fact that the family gets to stop at various restaurants, truck stops and similar locales along the way. It’s exciting for a time, but the longer your trip, the more likely you’ll have pangs of longing for some “real” food from home. Luckily, there’s no law that says that you have to eat greasy fries and burgers for the duration of your travels. Pack a small cooler full of easily portable food and snacks: sandwiches, wraps, cold pizza, are just some examples of what to bring. Don’t forget those stop-gap foods that will keep the kids going in between stops as well: granola bars, veggie sticks and fruit are good examples. You’ll get tired of truck stop and fast food pretty quickly and some more healthy options from home will be a welcome break. Don’t forget to bring a good supply of fluids for the kids as well - juice boxes and water bottles will go a long way to keeping them hydrated as well as saving you money.

And ideally, you’ll want your road trip to look something like this. Here’s a picture of my kids on a recent trip. Ahhhhhh….heaven…..;)


 sleeping boy in car


VIDEO: How to Travel With Kids

by Samantha on March 7, 2013

Kids with luggage

This sure is a popular topic. I guess the idea about taking kids on a vacation strikes fear into the hearts of even the most organized and stoic of parents.

Following my post How to Travel With Kids: Top 5 Tips For Parents, I appeared on The Morning Show on Global TV to provide my advice to viewers. Here’s the full segment for your viewing pleasure 😉

VIDEO: How to Travel With Kids

Lane Bryant


RADIO INTERVIEW: How to Travel With Kids

by Samantha on March 4, 2013

The Karaoke Channel Channel Membership Community 480 x 60

airport child

Travel with kids is a hot topic. We all want to know how to get to our desired destination with the family intact, without too much stress along the way. After writing a post on this topic, entitled How to Travel With Kids - Top 5 Tips For Parents, I was asked to provide the advice via a radio interview with CJAD 800 in Montreal.Whether it’s travel for spring break, a holiday trip to see the grandparents across the country or a good old fashioned road trip with the kids, the dog and the kitchen sink in tow, the tips are the same. Stay calm and carry on.

Below is a link to the full audio of the interview.

AUDIO: How to Travel With Kids

Want more of my parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

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How to Travel With Kids - Top 5 Tips For Parents

by Samantha on February 22, 2013

These simple strategies will make your next vacation stress-free

Whether it’s a winter break jaunt or a summer getaway, how to travel with kids to your final destination without too much stress along the way is top of mind for most parents.

Traveling with children can be trying as any frazzled parent can tell you. Along with trying to coordinate flight times, work commitments, finances and packing, there’s the very real thought of a meltdown at 30,000 feet. Being trapped with a screaming toddler or a kindergarten-aged child who will not sit still can be anxiety-producing to say the least. Fortunately there are some simple tips that parents can follow to make sure that their jaunt to a distant locale will pass by smoothly, and perhaps even enjoyably.

travel with kids

Following are  the Top 5 Tips on How to Travel With Kids

1)   Take the Tech In this day and age, technology is your friend. Now is not the time to be weighing the relative merits of letting your child use your iPad. For the sake of your sanity, let her use it for heaven’s sake! Whether your child is two or twelve, the iPad (fully-loaded with age-appropriate games, of course), a laptop, a portable DVD player, your smartphone, your iPod or otherwise should be fully charged and ready to spring in to action.

2)   A Dollar For Your Thoughts Bribing Preparing your children for a long flight doesn’t have to be expensive. A quick stop at your local “dollar store” before your trip can be the difference between a palatable flight and a disaster (and no, I’m not referring to a technical malfunction). Before embarking on your trip, purchase some inexpensive new items at the dollar store such as toys, colouring books and crayons, arts and crafts, etc. Pack them in your child’s new knapsack (the one that you bought just for this trip, another enticement), and whip it out just when the little one is just about to begin a meltdown of nuclear proportions. Crisis averted, just like that.

3)   Rhyme and Reason – Contrary to popular belief, you can reason with kids, to some degree. Depending on their age, discuss with them what the travel to your destination will entail. This may involve talking about the wait times at the airport, the security procedures and, most importantly, the need to behave and be quiet while on a long flight. As with everything, teach them that behaving is a means to an end, the end being a relaxing vacation on a beach (or a crazy fun few days at Disneyland). Once they realize that there’s a reason for their obedience, it won’t seem too bad, and they often, surprisingly, comply.

4)   Food, Glorious Food – Not only is food a necessary requirement for nutrition, but it’s a necessary requirement for traveling with kids as well. This is particularly the case with airline and train travel where the on-flight food is, well, let’s just say not of the most stellar quality. Bring some portable snacks and meals for your kids that will keep them quiet and sated during the journey to your destination. These can include sandwiches, cheese sticks, crackers, cut-up veggies and portable cereal or trail mix. Oh, and don’t forget the juice boxes!

5)   Bulk Up! – No matter how old your kids are, ask for the bulkhead when you’re flying. Not only is there more room there for car seats, baby seats, diaper bags and various baby/toddler paraphernalia, there is also room for bigger kids to store their stuff, move around and general comfort. This goes for the parents too. Plan ahead and enjoy your flight!

These are some simple solutions to traveling with kids. What other tips and advice would you give to parents? Answer in the comments below.

AUDIO: How to Travel With Kids

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

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Travel With Kids: What to Pack

February 1, 2012

If you’re an intrepid sort like myself, you won’t let having many little ones stop you from traveling! No sir - you look at that family vacation as an adventure, and it’s going to be a good one! In my last post, I mentioned that I’ll be heading south to Orlando, Florida with the family. […]

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