When you're traveling with kids, a trip to the grandparents' house three hours away can be just as epic a journey as shipping out for a tour of duty. By land, sea or air, organizing the flotilla of luggage and executing your travel plan takes forward planning and military precision to ensure a successful trip when the kids are involved.
Wherever the destination - Aunt Carla's house or a Costa Rica vacation, there is always one certainty: kids need distractions for the hours they'll spend in a car seat, or dawdling on an airport floor during a layover. At Armed Forces Vacation Club, we've come up some helpful tips to help make your next trip a success.
Brief the troops
A successful trip requires strategic planning and swift tactical execution by everyone on your team (or at least your second in command). Be prepared by knowing the planned route ahead of time and any secondary objectives.
Travel early... and often
Get out the door early to ensure you have the entire day for unexpected pitstops. Start traveling with your kids at an early age so they're accustomed to the rigors of travel and extended forays in their car seat. And do both of these often so the routines are drilled into their heads.
Wrap small gifts to open during transport
This tactic is a surefire approach to keep morale high, for at least an hour or two. Being gift-wrapped makes it all that more effective. Plan for one gift at the top of each hour. They can be anything from packaged fruit snacks or goldfish to dollar store trinkets.
Be mindful of your rations
Keeping your platoon well-fed and hydrated is key to any mission. It's even more important for the wee ones, particularly on long flights with nothing but a bag of peanuts between airports.
Keep a portable latrine on hand for emergencies
The wee ones can't hold it like adults. Need we say more?
Pack gift bags for nearby plane passengers
Nothing cuts down on the potential for conflict than a preemptive strike of generosity for those within earshot. Make sure ear plugs are included.
Always have a plan B
The best laid plans can always go awry. Make sure your strategy includes secondary objectives along your route to ensure your troops have proper shelter, rations, and entertainment. Have contingency plans on hand, like knowing which motels or hotels you can stop at should the occasion arise.
Play creative games to engage troops with their surroundings
This keeps them alert and their morale high with fun and simple games like "The Alphabet Game," "I Spy," and "Restaurant Race."
Consolidate your troops' rations, supplies, and toys into as few bags as possible. Nothing is worse than towing a flotilla of eight bags and two kids through airport terminals and baggage claim.
If all else fails...
Preload your phone or tablet with books and movies—the backup plan that's sure to please!
Following these ten simple steps ensures success on your next mission. What's your experience traveling with kids? If you have any tips you'd like to share, let us know in the comments. Safe travels and great adventures!