What are some tips for packing when traveling with children?
When traveling with children, give each child a list of items to pack so you won't have to worry about items being forgotten. And to take things to the next level, have your kid put each day's outfit for the trip in a zip-lock bag. This keeps stuff organized and makes for more packing space. Create one bag for shared toiletries, since that stuff will be used by all siblings. And if flying, combine kids' luggage as much as possible to hopefully cut down on pesky baggage fees.
What about a hotel room versus a vacation rental? What's the best choice?
You should really do your research when it comes to the right lodging choice when traveling with kids. With a vacation rental, you typically know exactly what you're getting - a standalone home, a condo on the second floor, etc. With a hotel room, there could be variables. You might be on the first floor or fifth, and parking close to your actual room could present a challenge as well. These issues take more precedence when traveling with children, so make sure due diligence is completed.
What are your thoughts on GPS tracking devices to always know where your children are?
In this day and age, you really can never be too careful, and this certainly applies to overseeing kids when traveling. After all, it's not like you're on your home turf. GPS tracking devices are never a bad idea, and if your child has a problem with having to wear one, once you explain the safety factor, there's not likely to be much push back.
When it comes to paying for trips before and during, should one pay with cash or credit or check?
There's no straightforward answer as far as how to pay for your trip, either before or during. Cash is convenient, it's simple and quick. But there's the security factor which makes it not such a good choice in certain instances. A debit card is probably a better option, however, you forego any chance of disputing charges, something that is a bit more prevalent with folks who are traveling.
When traveling with infants, what's the difference between using a stroller, sling, or baby carriage?
You always want to travel as light as possible, no matter if you're on a road trip or flying. However, you might want to bring a stroller and a baby carrier, since both can be ported with mostly relative ease. You could also look into renting either/or for more convenience. When flying, a carrier might be the better route, especially because getting a small child to nap is an easier chore. Slings can also work better than the other two options depending upon your specific needs during the trip. The best suggestion is to think about all three options along with the ins and outs of your upcoming trip in order to make the best choice.
What about tips specifically regarding flying?
Double check seating assignments when traveling with children. If you don't do it correctly, you won't be together. This could present a major problem. Layer clothing. Temperatures in airports can be unpredictable, especially on the plane, so make sure your kid will be warm or comfortable enough in any scenario.
When is the best time to fly when traveling with children?
Considering that most kids arise earlier rather than later, your best bet is to schedule travel during that time rather than others for nap purposes. The afternoon time frame might work as well, depending upon sleep/nap schedules. It all depends upon your preference or schedule, but the most important thing to realize is that you have to match this up.
Regarding road trips - how do you keep the kids entertained?
Since you probably don't want your kids constantly on their electronic devices when traveling on a road trip, you may want to go old school to entertain them. The license plate game is fun, so is I-Spy. Listening to an audiobook is another strategy if you can find one interesting for the entire clan. There are also other old school ideas like a few Rubik's cubes, or Mad Libs, which they have a version specifically designed for road trips. Or grab a sheet of paper and pen and play Hangman.
Are there ways to prevent or lower the chance of motion or car sickness?
To reduce or lower the chance of car or motion sickness, point out things outside of your car from time to time for the kids to look at. There's usually at least something rather interesting every few miles or so. This reduces sensory input, which helps eliminate car sickness. Make sure your car has sufficient air ventilation as well by rolling down the windows from time to time. There are some over the counter meds available as well if you know your kids are prone to car sickness, just check with your pharmacist for the best medication based on your child's age.
When it comes to eating during road trips, most of your options are fast food related. What can you do as a parent if you want to feed your kids a healthier diet on a road trip?
To eat healthy on a road trip, it's essential to have a plan. You just can't count on there being a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods near a highway exit, because there might not be. Head out to one of these stores before your trip and stock up on snacks and possible meals that are portable and can withstand a few hours in the car. If you'll be doing any healthy meal or snack preparation in the kitchen before the trip, do it the day before you leave so you won't have to worry about it on a travel day in the midst of everything else. If your road trip will be longer, consider investing in a higher end cooler such as a Yeti. Yes, they're pricey, but you can get one used on eBay or Amazon for less, and you'll invariably use it for plenty of other activities. You may want to invest in reuseable water containers as well, so you won't have to worry about buying drinks.