Spring Break Travel Tips

Jennifer Gibson, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

As spring break approaches, many students and their families are anticipating some time away.  Part of planning for a trip involves preparing for potential problem situations beforehand.  Because kids tend to misbehave when they need attention or direction, focusing efforts in these areas is important.  Here are several tips for making road trips or flights with kids more bearable, and subsequently, more enjoyable.

  • New toys or activities are key. Your local dollar store is a great resource for low-cost novel items.  Weeks before your trip, keep mail-order toy catalogs.  Kids can look at these for extended periods, several times.
  • Map out your trip and track it with your kids.  Doing this can keep time and travel distance in perspective.  Reviewing this periodically becomes another activity for your kids. 

  • Classic games like “I spy” can be fun on the plane and in the car. 
  • Purchase disposable cameras if your kids do not have a camera.  Kids can enjoy taking pictures all along their trip. 
  • Don’t sweat the screen time.  If your kids enjoy using their portable devices, it’s okay to do this more on a trip as something special.  Since this is not something you do all the time, don’t feel guilty.
  • Pack a suitcase of familiar toys for your destination.  This can help your kids feel comfortable in a new place and they will be happy to play with their favorite toys.
  • Pack some Inflatable balls.  Inflatable balls can be fun for outside activity while vacationing and they take up little space.

  • Use your surroundings for pretend play.  There are likely extra sheets available for tents and fort-making.  Playing “store” with pads of paper and pens along with your children’s belongings can also be fun.
  • Portable food and drinks are a must. Packaged cheese, snacks, fruit, juice boxes, and wrapped treats (as behavioral incentives) are a few possibilities.  Small plastic cups can be helpful for holding snacks if you buy in bulk.  Cups with lids can be helpful too, especially if your kids do not typically finish their juice boxes.  This can make for easier drink accessibility and eliminate unnecessary juggling and messes.
  • Small storage bags help you keep neat and organized.  There are bound to be moments when your kids do not finish their snack or their toys need containment.  Storage bags can also be used for garbage when needed. 
  • Even if you are past the diaper stage, diaper wipes are essential.  These are great for cleaning kids and surfaces.
  • Pack a small first aid kit. Fill it with fever-reducing pain medication, allergy medication, and skin ointment with band aids. It can be extremely helpful when you need it and requires little space.
  • A portable toilet seat can be helpful. Especially if you unexpectedly need a restroom and there is not one available.  Most portable toilet seats are small enough to fit into a bag.  Although it may be a new adventure for your kids to go to the bathroom outside, the familiarity of a toilet seat may help them more easily adapt to doing this if needed.    

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