Traveling with children can be a wonderful experience, if you prepare ahead of time! If you don't prepare, you may end up thinking your Florida vacation was more stressful than you wanted.
Now I don't have little ones myself, so I asked Claire Kolarova from Little Kids Games Online to give parents and grandparents some hints about how to travel more easily with young children. (And if you have a few minutes after reading this article, why not visit Claire's site? The link opens in a new window.)
Claire, take it away!
"Are we nearly there yet?..." - maybe not, but with some great travel games at the ready, your trip to Florida with the kids will become a memorable part of your whole vacation experience.
For babies, a little amusement goes a long way. Once they've had enough of sleeping or just sitting happily, then it's play time! Babies love colors, textures, and interesting sounds, so make sure you have plenty of multi-sensory stimulation at the ready.
Use that car seat! There are some great soft toys and attachments specially designed for baby car seats. Baby can squeeze, tap, push, pull or even chew these toys, and some can be bought as a car seat/gym combo. Older babies can make use of a car seat tray, which can be used for both play and snacks - best used if there is someone sitting in the back with baby to pick everything up off the floor!
Pack the playbox. A selection of baby's favorite toys and books will come in handy too, as well as one or two new treats!
Musical fun is easy: bring a tape of nursery rhymes the whole family can sing, or just provide your own performance of activity songs such as "the wheels on the bus" or "wind the bobbin up." Toddlers will also love the familiarity of these songs.
Toddler travel games involve lots of activity; toddlers like to "do" and get involved.
Prepare a plastic wallet of scribbling paper and washable pens. There are also great travel activity packs available for little kids, providing them with something novel to get involved with, which they will love! Wipe-clean drawing boards also go down well.
Car playbox items might include plastic farm animals or doll mini-figures for them to snuggle down with and create an imaginary world.
A selection of story and activity books gives toddlers something to look at - and you can read a story out loud to the whole family.
Play an on-the-road version of follow-my-leader: touch your nose, scratch your ear, clean your teeth, wiggle your feet! Or look out of the window and play a "what can you see?" game. What noises do those animals make? What color is that car? What's the weather like?
Older kids will enjoy packing a selection of activities to keep them busy. Just ensure you've hidden away a few new treats to give them something fresh to get excited about en route!
They'll love travel games that involve guessing, as well as more organized pencil-and-paper games.
Sticker books and quiz activity books involving number, word or picture puzzles can keep them busy for longer periods, and they will also enjoy felt and magnet activities, or even card games.
Why not provide them with a vacation journal and map for your route - they can mark the route on the map and write on it, or use sticky labels to write comments and attach to the map. Provide blank postcards to fill in or add photos to. Throw in a one-time-use camera for your kids to snap away during the trip too, for some take-home memories of your journey!
And of course we can't forget the DVD player! But instead of just everyday movies, how about some travel DVDs?
Don't forget the return trip! Keep your eyes open for some destination-related toys or activities for your kids to enjoy on their way home.
Claire, thanks so much for providing these tips and hints so that the whole family can enjoy their Florida vacation!