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.

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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Spending vacation time in your home city can be both fun and economical

family on bikes

So here’s the scoop:

You’ve got kids, you’re tired and you want a family vacation. The problem is, you don’t have the funds to do it the way you’d like to. As a matter of fact, money’s pretty tight all around and you’re dreading having to tell the kids that their dreams of an unrestrained Disneyland vacation will have to wait until your finances are just a tad healthier.

Instead of feeling guilty followed by sheepishly telling your kids that their fantasies will have to wait, how about putting on your game face and let the family know that you’re going to tear up the town on your staycation?

That’s right - The family’s going to enjoy their respite from their daily routine by looking at their hometown, city, province or state through new eyes. The “staycation” - the vacation that’s just a few steps from home - is an increasingly popular alternative to the expensive and often stressful family vacations that we at once embrace and dread (for financial reasons and more). Surprisingly, there are a number of things that can be found close to home that are both interesting and entertaining.

Following is advice about How to Have a Great Staycation: Top 10 Tips For Parents

1) Do your research - Of course, start with our old standby, Google, but don’t stop there. Ask friends, read local write-ups, review online sites for your destinations and find out what’s on the go. Oftentimes, there are seasonally-focused programs or events occurring which may fit in perfectly with your family staycation. Gather your information together, enter your coupon codes and go!

2) Prime your Kids - It’s important to set the stage and let the kids know that this year’s family holiday is going to be a little different. Get them ready and let them know that this staycation is going to be just as exciting as any trip abroad. Rally the troops and get them primed for their time in their home city.

3) Have and Agenda - Don’t “let the chips fall where they may” and take for granted that you’re in familiar surroundings. Like any other vacation, have a plan of attack, map out your days and have focal points of interest where you’ll be visiting. Make every day of your staycation count by having a full schedule of things to do that will be of interest to both the older and younger members of the family.

4) Mix it up - To keep things interesting, mix up your staycation with days where you’re enjoying culture and other days where you’re having some good, old-fashioned fun. One day could be a day where the destinations are of an educational bent, another could be cultural. The key is to make it interesting by planning a diverse schedule that will keep everybody entertained.

5) Consider a Theme - If you have some extended time off, consider having themes that are followed as part of your staycation. For example, one week could be dedicated to leisure, e.g. a beach visit, the following week could be focused on culture, etc. If you have a shorter period of time, consider daily themes that will change things up and make the kids more engaged.

6) Check Your Finances - Have a budget allocated and stick to it. Most cities have day passes or weekly passes for transit; as well, there are a number of free festivals and events for families. Daily deal websites and group discounts or special offers are there for the taking - just do your research and you’ll find that there are savings to be had. You can also make the most of your budget by limiting your staycation to a finite number of days. For example, why not do a few two or three-day local excursions as part of your vacation? Consider getting a professional to help you plan a local staycation jaunt so that you can get the most “bang” for your buck.

7) Be One With Nature - The “family staycation” is a perfect opportunity to appreciate nature and to get the kids outside. Venture into the great outdoors by visiting parks, going for walks, and if you’re lucky enough to be close to water, enjoying the waterfront. Have a picnic with the family, go bike riding, plan a scenic hike with the kids. The key is to stop and smell the roses in your hometown - literally and figuratively.

8) Have a “Plan B” - Mother Nature can be a real drag sometimes. Because of this, make sure to have a contingency plan. Inclement weather, illness or otherwise could put a damper on your staycation.  For these reasons, make sure that you have a backup plan regarding your itinerary. So, for example, what will you do if it’s pouring rain when you have a walking tour of the city planned? What if one of your kids comes down with a fever or cold? In the first instance, you may want to consider some of your options that are indoor, e.g. museums, galleries, etc. In the latter case, consider splitting up if you can: one parent could take one or two of the kids out for the day while the other is on nursing duty at home. Whatever the case, make sure to be prepared.

9) Act Like a Tourist - You are on vacation after all, so do the things you don’t normally do at home. These include eating at that new popular restaurant in your city, taking a guided tour of some of your town’s landmarks and buying souvenirs. Take pictures of those historical buildings and look at your city through the eyes of a tourist. You’ll be surprised at what you see.

10) Unplug - You’re on vacation, remember? For this reason alone, give technology a break, and other than taking pictures of your good times, forget about email, texting and the computer for a while. Turn off the tech, tell everyone that you’re on holidays and relax.

As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home!”

Are you going on a staycation with your family? Have you gone on one with the kids? What additional advice and tips would you offer? Answer in the comments section below!

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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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

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