For me, it's a toss-up...and depends on the ages/stages of my children and the distance of the destination. If I had to choose straight-up between 6 hours in a plane or 6 hours in a car, for example, I'd choose a car. There's more freedom, more flexibility, less potential for germs, and less worry about bothering other passengers in a cramped space.
That said, if I had the option of a 1 hour plane flight versus a 6-hour car drive, I'd go with the plane hands-down.
Either way, it's important to pack smart and be prepared...no matter how you choose to travel.
Here are 6 things to bring with you for the getting-there part of the journey.
Snacks...and PLENTY of them. Food is one of the best distractions ever. On our most recent road trip, we brought along Cheerios, Fruit Leathers, Peanut Butter-filled Pretzels, Goldfish, Gum, etc. Other great options include...Mandarin Oranges, Grapes, Cherries, Carrot Sticks, Saltines, Beef Jerky, and Dried Apricots.
Water. It's easy to get dehydrated when traveling and dehydration leads to tummy aches, sore throats, grumpiness, fatigue, and all sorts of ailments. Keeping water accessible in bottles and sippy cups is important. We opt for water over juice or soda because it's healthier...and not sticky if spilled.
Diversions. You'll need something to pass the hours on the road. Obviously, conversation and laughter and whining will inevitably fill part of the time, but it helps to have toys, games, and/or books with you to help keep boredom at bay. "New" books and toys are best. For older children, books-on-CD, card games, Travel Bingo, and cartoons can also do the trick.
Wipes. If you have babies on-board, you'll need to be prepared with a stack of diapers. If you have kids of any age, however, wipes are a wonderful thing to have around. For spills. For spitting out gum. For a quick hand-wash. For bathroom stops. Etc.
A Map. If you have an iPhone, you can download the free AroundMe app to quickly locate restaurants, gas stations, banks, and parks around your current destination. If you have a GPS unit, you can do the same. If you have neither of those options, then having a good old-fashioned map with you is advised. Nothing is quite as stressful as getting lost or going around in circles when you have small children in the car. Pre-kids, getting lost may have equated to an adventure. Post-kids, getting even 10 minutes off-course can lead to some pretty high blood-pressure.
A Smile. Here's the truth. Traveling with kids is bound to have bumps. Your baby won't nap. Your toddler will have a potty-training accident in an unfortunate place. Your preschooler might drive you nuts by singing the same song 52,000 times. But, in the end, you'll have some pretty incredible memories. So...as they say, don't sweat the small stuff. Try to keep calm and carry on. Anger is unbecoming and unhelpful. Laughter, however, covers a multitude of tragedies. And just think how much you can teach your children if you respond to obstacles with positivity and grace...
YOUR TURN: Do you prefer to travel with your family by plane or car? What do you pack when you travel with small children?
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