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Traveling with kids brings to mind a few images for parents, like a farmer herding uncooperative cattle, a person pulling out their hair, or trying to confine restless hyenas. But fear not – preparing for your 4th of July travels doesn’t have to be like preparing for the apocalypse. With these few easy tips, your Independence Day can be a pleasant vacation without having to dread the process of getting there.
1. Plan Extra Time
Between navigating the airport, sightseeing, or getting from point A to B, who knows how many toilet breaks, tantrums, or explorations children will decide to take that adds extra time to any journey. Alleviate the stress of time pressure by allowing plenty of time to get to where you need to be, and enjoy a more relaxed trip as a result.
2. Only pack carry-ons
If you have a few kids or more, dealing with checked-in luggage at the airport can quickly become a nightmare. Skip the hassle by limiting your children to only one backpack and carry-on. Quickly move in and out of airports without having to account for every piece of checked-in luggage, and once you arrive in your location, buy the shampoo and toothpaste you would have otherwise checked in.
3. Color coordinate your children
Ok, this may sound a bit extreme, but on the subject of limiting your kids to a backpack and carry-on at the airport, color coordinating each child to match their luggage is a great way to keep track of their things. Designate a color to each child and dress them in brightly colored clothing as well. It’s an easy way to spot them and their possessions at all times.
4. Dress appropriately
Along with assigning a color to each child, making sure they’re properly dressed for airport security and the plane ride is absolutely essential for a painless journey. Flip-flops can be dangerous, and sneakers take too long to put on and off at airport security. The solution? Crocs. Yes, they’re an eyesore, but they’re practical and a breeze to take on and off, and it’s doubtful that any 8 year-old has developed a sophisticated sense of style yet. Additionally, pack extra sweaters for the unpredictable temperatures on the airplane.
5. Pack plenty of snacks
It doesn’t matter if you intend on getting to your 4th of July destination via car, plane, train, or rocket ship – the point is, kids everywhere need plenty of snacks to keep the mood positive. If you’re traveling by plane, avoid foods that take a liquid form and skip messy snacks like squeezable yogurt on car rides. Eating healthy is a valuable lesson to teach any child, but the goal while traveling is the keep the little ones happy and calm. To do this, pack fun and tasty treats to make long lines and traffic jams more bearable for everyone.
6. Ditch the leash – get a child locator
Let’s face it – the child leash is so passé. It lets the world know you have a particularly unruly child, plus, toddlers view it as an infringement on their freedom. A more subtle, kid friendly approach to keeping track of their whereabouts is the child locator – a small unit that can be strapped onto a belt or a shoe while the parent holds on to the transmitter. You’ve lost sight of your child at a crowded train station? No problem, just set off the alarm and follow the sound till you find them. It’s the perfect device for airports, crowds, and train stations.
7. Bring a bag of tricks
A bag filled with small, inexpensive gifts can be the best move for preventing a crisis from any child. Even if you think you have an endless supply of entertainment for your kid, a promised gift every hour or when a meltdown seems inevitable is the perfect solution for the restless child. And this doesn’t have to be expensive either. Small toy cars, stuffed animals, and colorful lollipops and stickers will do the trick. It provides an instant distraction for any small child.
8. Don’t forget about the older ones!
It may seem like your teenager wants to spend their entire life hovering over a smart phone or wrapped in headphones, but you’ll be surprised at how much input they’ll give if they’re involved with planning the trip. Being inclusive of your older children is a great way to make them a bigger part of the vacation and it distinguishes them from the younger kids. Plus, your teenager won’t have any excuse to complain if they don’t enjoy the planned activity for the day – they helped pick it out;)