The summer tends to give everybody the itch to travel. The weather is nicer, the kids are out of school, most parents take holidays during the summer, and it's a great time to have a change of scenery and do some traveling. Whether you're traveling somewhere far or just a few hours away, exploring somewhere new is a great way to create special memories with your family that you will treasure for years to come.
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Traveling on your own requires a certain amount of planning; traveling with kids, on the other hand, requires a lot of planning and preparation — especially if your children are still quite young. You want to make sure that you remember everything you'll need, in order to ensure that you have as stress-free of a vacation as possible. After all, isn't that the whole point of vacations? (I hear you, parents of little ones, stop laughing, it is possible!) Here are 10 things that every traveling parent needs.
10 Baby wipes
Baby wipes tend to be a staple for most families with little ones, and they even tend to hang around long after the kids are out of diapers, mainly because of their versatility. Baby wipes can be used for a whole host of messes. From sticky fingers and messy faces to wiping spilled food, baby wipes are great for a quick clean up.
Of course, you'll have quite a few wipes on hand if your kids are still in diapers; you'll want to make sure that diaper bag is stocked with all of your necessities. But, even if your little ones aren't in diapers anymore, grab a pack of wipes to bring with you. You'll be glad that you did when your kid comes up to you covered in a sticky substance that you don't really want to identify. Eww.
9 Headphones or earbuds
There's not much use in bringing your kids' tablets or phones as entertainment if they're all competing to hear their own tablet. It gets even more challenging if you're all traveling in the same car, and you're stuck listening to a combination of Max and Ruby and the latest teenage rock music.
Invest in some good headphones for each of your children; you'll be so glad that you did! Sometimes, kids will complain that their headphones hurt their ears, so try to find a set that is comfortable for them to wear. Cozy Phones are a fantastic investment for little kids, as they are super comfortable to wear. We bought a pair for each of our kids when we were traveling to Europe and they loved them for the airplane ride.
8 Reusable water bottles
Everyone gets thirsty when traveling and you don't want to be filling up on the juices and pop that you can get at the local gas stop or airport. Not only are they expensive, but they are packed full of sugar and will end up leaving everyone feeling a little sick to their stomachs after a while. Instead, bring along a reusable water bottle, one for each member of the family.
If you're planning a road trip, fill your water bottles half full with water and pop them into the freezer at night time before you go to bed. In the morning, top them up with additional water, and you'll have nice, cold water to sip on throughout the day.
7 Portable charger
The various devices, tablets, phones, and computers won't be much good to you if their batteries die half way through your trip. Bring along a portable charger to recharge the devices when you need to. Rotate the devices regularly and give them each a little charge, to top them up and prevent a mass need for the charger all at once!
There are many little portable chargers that you can get these days that are not much bigger than the traditional USB sticks, and they're much more reasonably priced than they were when they first came on the market. Grab one or two to bring along with you, and you'll be thanking yourself when your 3-year-old's tablet dies in the middle of their favorite show!
6 Lip balm with SPF
It seems like a little thing to include in a list of important items for parents to remember when traveling, but it's a good one. There are many times when you're traveling that your lips get dry and you don't have any lip balm nearby to soothe them. The same goes for your kids. Airports are dry and airplanes are even dryer, so your little ones might need some lip balm to soothe their little pouters.
In the summer time especially, your lips are also prone to sunburn if you're outside a lot. We sometimes tend to forget about our lips when applying sunscreen (because it doesn't taste all the great when a bit gets in our mouths!), so having a lip balm that has SPF in it will help to protect your lips and keep them moist throughout your trip.
5 Chewing gum
This is mainly an important thing to bring if you're traveling on an airplane, although it can be a nice thing to have on a road trip as well. On an airplane though, your kids might complain of ear pain due to the pressure change when flying, especially during landing and takeoff. Giving them a piece of gum to chew (provided they're old enough to know not to swallow it) can help to relieve that pressure in their ears.
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Bring along a few packs of sugar-free chewing gum to help with any ear pain when flying or just to chew on during your long road trip. It also helps you to avoid unnecessary snacking in the car, as sometimes we just like to chew on something when we're bored. A piece of gum won't cause a bellyache like a bunch of gas stop junk food will!
4 Snack and more snacks!
Speaking of gas stop junk food, you want to try to avoid stocking up on snacks from pit stops if you can. They're sugary, junky, and will leave you and your kids with a sore stomach. Instead, bring along some snacks from home that are a little healthier, like granola bars, pretzels, fruit, and raisins.
If you're flying, you might not be able to bring a lot of your own snacks with you due to airport restrictions. But, if you're planning a road trip, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can pack into that car! Bring along a small cooler with snacks, lunch stuff, extra drinks, and whatever else will keep the crew happy throughout the trip.
3 Change of clothes
As a parent of little ones, I can assure you that you will want to bring a change of clothes for every child and perhaps even yourself. You just never know what might happen when you're traveling, and it's not like you will always have easy access to additional clothes. Pack a spare set of clothes for each of your kids, and keep them within reach, if possible.
It doesn't hurt to bring along an extra set of clothes for yourself as well, because you never know what might happen. If you have a little one who gets car sick, you might end up with a shirt covered in vomit, and you will want to change that ASAP. Having an extra shirt handy will be a big relief. And remember those baby wipes I mentioned? They'll be good to have along as well.
2 First Aid Kit with Hand Sanitizer
Your little one stubs their toe on a rock or grabs a stick that was sharp and cuts their hand. Or, perhaps their new, fancy summer sandals are not as comfortable as they seemed in the store, and now they're sporting some good blisters on their heels. You just never know what situations you might encounter when traveling, and it's better to be prepared.
Have a little first aid kit to bring along with you, full with bandages, medical tape, ointment, scissors, and hand sanitizer. You don't want a little boo-boo preventing everyone from enjoying their time. If you can pop a bandage on those blisters, then your little one will be able to keep on trucking and enjoying the day.
1 Little toys and games
Remember those little McDonald's Happy Meal toys that seem to collect dust in your kids' toy bins? Grab a few of them and stuff them in your bag for your trip. You never know when they'll come in handy as quick entertainment to stave off a meltdown when your kids are getting tired of traveling.
Because let's be honest, kids are pretty great most of the time and they are good little troopers when it comes to traveling. But they are kids after all, and they get tired, cranky, and hungry just like the rest of us. Have a few fun little toys in your bag as a surprise if things are starting to go downhill. That little Happy Meal toy might just save the day!