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More tips for traveling with children

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
Last week I shared some of our family's travel survival tips. Here are some other things I've discovered that make traveling with children more pleasant.
1) Make sure to have a change of clothes convenient for everyone in case of accidents. Even older children can spill drinks or get drinks spilled on them.
2) If you have a child that gets car sick, check with your pediatrician for medication that can help. However, be warned that most of that medication does make your child drowsy. Also, I've found that buckets ice cream comes in are great to use in the vehicle because of the lid (toxic containment). Enough said about that one- yuck.
3) If you're taking along battery operated toys, don't forget the extra batteries.
4) Small flashlights can be a lifesaver, if you have to be traveling at night. We have a standing rule that if you use the flashlight inappropriately, such as shining it in your siblings eyes or shining it toward the front of the van distracting the driver, then you loose your flashlight privileges.
5) Each of our children are responsible for taking along their own pillow and blanket -even our two-year-old knows when we pack our suitcases he needs to get his blanket and pillow. It works well to fold the blanket up and put it inside the pillow case with the pillow.
6) I also make our kids pack their own suitcases. I give them a list of what they need to bring and then check their cases for accuracy.
7) As for munching along the way, I try to keep this at a minimum. I do keep things like grapes, dried fruit, cheese cubes, cheese sticks, pretzels, peanut butter crackers, and gummies. For drinks, we try to stick to Kool Aid and water, but we sometimes let the kids do the soda thing, too. I try not to give salty things early in the trip, because that makes the kids thirsty. Of course, that means more restroom breaks.
8) When it comes to meals while on vacation, we discovered several little tricks that help. First of all, we usually look for hotels that provide breakfast with the room. If we're going to eat out, we usually try to do it at lunch because the meals are less expensive. We also try to find a buffet. Our kids eat better balanced meals at buffets. Let's face it, anything is better than fast food restaurants.
OK, we've worked on feeding them and packing them. What's left? Oh yeah. Entertaining them. Even if you're lucky enough to have a DVD player in your vehicle, sometimes you can still find yourself looking for something to keep the peace!
Children love surprises, even little ones. So when we take a long vacation that has a couple days of travel time, I pack surprise bags for each day. I use plain brown paper lunch bags and put things I've picked up on sale or at a discount stores. I also label each bag with a child's name and the day they are to receive them.
Some ideas of things to include are small notepads, pencils, colored pencils, activity books, new books from a favorite series, stencils, small toys, washable markers, cards, card games, magnet travel games, a few pieces of chewy candy, etc. Just a tip about markers–you can take a small shallow container, fill it with plaster of Paris, put the markers lid down in the plaster and let dry. The kids are less likely to loose the lids this way. If the lids pull out over time, just glue them back in.
Things not to include in surprise sacks are Play-dough, Silly Putty, chocolate, crayons, ink pens or ink stamps, toys with lots of little parts, gum and other things that are either messy or that will melt. By the way, did you know Silly Putty can melt? It really sticks to the car seats when it does.
Other things to do while in a vehicle are car games like see how many different state license plates you can spot. We do this as a family as opposed to individually to prevent the fuss of who saw the license plate first. Pick a color of car and see how many cars you can spot of that color or make a list of colors and then tally how many cars you count of each color.
I think it's best to set a time limit and then have the kids graph the results. You get the bonus of sneaking in a school skill, too!
Of course, there are the expensive sanity savers, like the hand-held video games, the afore mentioned TV and DVD players, CD players, etc. However, after a while even these things will lose their appeal. That's when you need those frequent breaks I talked about last week.
And when all else fails, just repeat over and over, "Children are a gift from God, children are a gift from God." And remember this too shall pass.
I hope everyone has a great summer. If you have a question, tip or suggestion for Mom's Corner, please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640 or e-mail: