“Stop touching my stuff! I told you I don’t like that,” shouted the sister to her brother.
“I didn’t touch your stuff, you are just trying to get me trouble,” shouted back the brother.
The mother turned around in her seat and said, “Would you two stop it! Both of you fighting is making this trip harder than it has to be.”
Many parents have experienced the joys and challenges of the family traveling for the holidays. Millions of people hit the roadways and airports on their way to see family during this time which increases stress levels due to long lines and heavy traffic. Throw in unpredictable weather and traveling for the holidays can stress even the best of families.
Even in these rough circumstances, there are ways to prepare and make the journey go as smoothly as possible. The first step is to prepare for the trip where the whole family can help out. Parents can make a packing list of everything needed for the trip. This includes pillows, blankets, first aid kits, garbage bags, and lots of entertainment for the kids. It is the one time where binging on movies and electronic games all day is okay.
Of course, snacks cannot be overlooked. Having hungry kids in a car or plane are sure recipes for travel meltdowns. Grab some healthy snacks and even a few forbidden treats for the trip. After all, it is a vacation and everyone deserves a little reward when they travel.
Another preparation that the whole family can work on is planning the route the family is going to take. This should include planned stops for meals and bathroom breaks. Kids can go online and see what restaurants are at particular stops or how far the official rest areas are from one another. This type of planning should minimize the kids continually asking how much longer the trip will last as they can see for themselves.
Parents know their children best. Some children are excellent travelers and others, not so much. If there is a fussy traveler in the family, extra steps need to be taken to ensure smooth travels. It is important to remember that children thrive when they have routines. The whole purpose of a vacation is to leave many of those routines behind which can be very disconcerting for children.
One way to counteract the change in routine is to let the children know what to expect on the upcoming trip. Parents can talk about what new experiences children might have, how things will be different from home, and what might be a challenge for them during the trip. Children will also benefit from seeing photos of places or people they might meet. The more predictable and concrete the trip becomes, the less likely children will have problems.
Once the appropriate preparations have been made and everyone has made it into the car, it is time to relax and enjoy the trip. Remember that no trip goes totally smoothly and there will be a few bumps along the road. Focus on enjoying the time together as a family as those moments are all too few in our fast-paced society.
This article was published in the Richmond Register daily Sunday on November 30, 2014