Are you planning any fun trips this summer? Sometimes the lead-up to a vacation can create the kind of stress you’re trying to get away from! These simple travel hacks will save you tons of time and headache so that you can focus on making those memories and enjoy the journey along the way.
This simple acronym is all you need to remember: T. R. I. P.
Here’s what it means!
T = Time:
Of course it should go without saying that whenever you’re traveling with kids, always allow more time than you think you’ll need. This will help you build in a buffer for the unexpected stuff that comes up, like travel delays … and extra potty breaks.
Even more importantly, pay attention to the time of day that you’re traveling. If you can travel when your kids are sleeping, do it! I can’t even begin to count the number of times as a kid that my parents would wake us up at 2:00 or 3:00am to hit the road. We’d doze back off, and by the time we woke up again we’d be halfway to our destination. So, do your best to time your travel around your kids’ nap schedules. And if they don’t take naps, consider those red-eye flights or early-morning road-trips (and enjoy the added perk of shorter lines and less traffic). Also, as a rule of thumb: book direct flights whenever possible. If you’re taking a road trip, make it leisurely. Plan a few stops to eat, sightsee, and stretch everyone’s legs along the way.
R = Routine
Vacations are for fun and family time, but the key to being able to enjoy that time together is to keep your kids’ stress levels low. Because when their stress levels are low, chances are yours will be too! An easy way to do this is to keep some kind of semblance of routine for your kids. Traveling itself is very stimulating and can be overwhelming for kids, and they often don’t know how to express it. This is why they get cranky, grumpy, and act out, leaving you feeling frustrated, stressed, and disappointed that you’ve planned this nice trip together and they’re not having much fun. So this step is critical if you want to reduce the stress and overwhelm that your kids are feeling from being overstimulated and out of their comfort zone.
A simple dinner-bath-bedtime routine every night can help to create that necessary structure, and it’s easy to do no matter where you’re staying. It’s also a great idea to let the kids bring a little piece of home with them, which helps create a similar environment to make them feel safe and secure even in a home away from home. If your kids are old enough, let them pick out a special item that they want to bring along. If they’re still young, pack their favorite blanket or lovie.
I = Instruct
Helping your kids understand and anticipate what’s coming next helps them feel more secure and less overstimulated. Travel isn’t something that happens every day, so can feel very out of the ordinary. A simple way to ease any anxiety they might be feeling but can’t communicate to you is to instruct them on what they can expect next. Prep them and give them a heads up such as, “Hey, ok kids! So after we stand in this line, the man up there is going to check our tickets. Then we’ll go put our luggage on the conveyor belt. The people standing by the machine over there are going to check our luggage using this awesome x-ray machine, and we’ll walk through this cool thing called a body scanner…” (etc.)
Literally give them the play-by-play! Chances are your kids will be so intrigued by the “awesome x-ray machine” and “cool body scanner” that they won’t even realize how you gently distracted them from the fear or apprehension they might’ve been feeling. This simple step is easy for you, and helpful for them: it prepares them for what’s coming next so they can feel more confident and secure during the process.
P = Pack & Prepare
When it comes to packing, keep it simple. Most families have a tendency to overpack, which can quickly rack up overages in baggage fees and limit visibility when on the road, which puts everyone’s safety in danger. Pack only what you absolutely need (clothes, shoes, medications, simple toiletries, etc.) and then buy or rent the rest when you get there. Think about it: you’re going to spend money on diapers whether you buy them here and bring with you (taking up valuable cargo space) or buy them there. Did you know, you can generally rent car seats along with rental cars? You can often rent strollers at theme parks, too.
And prepare for the unexpected! A travel-size first aid kit comes in handy for paper cuts, scraped knees, and tummy aches. If you have a baby or toddler, consider packing some simple baby-proofing items like outlet plugs and door knob covers for your hotel room or AirBnB.
BONUS Hacks to Make the Travel Time Go By:
- No one likes to be “hangry” — let the kids pick out some fun snacks to bring along for the travel itself, whether you’re traveling by plane, car, or other means of transportation. Pack some for you, too! Healthy items that travel well and will keep you feeling full are best. Think protein bars that are low in sugar, trail mix, and even beef jerky.
- For kids that are toddler age on up, consider bringing small gifts to unwrap and open every hour or so that they’ll be in the car or on the plane. This gives them something to look forward to and keeps them engaged and interested. You could wrap up educational items that’ll keep them from being bored, or excite them with little clues that hint at where you’re headed.
- No matter where you stay, plan so that you’re as close to the “main event” as possible, whether it be the pool, water park, beach access, trolley stop, etc. This saves tons of time and cuts down on so much walking back and forth. If you’re staying in a hotel, you can call ahead and request that your room be located near these amenities.
- Vacations are for rest and relaxation, but many people forget this. They go-go-go all day and come back the room exhausted and over-tired. Instead, consider having a “family rest time” right after lunch. This could be an hour indoors doing quiet activities, family movie time, or even a nap! The little breather in the middle of the day will re-energize everyone and make for a much more enjoyable afternoon.
These simple travel hacks will save you tons of time, headache, and stress. Remember, embrace the moment and enjoy the T.R.I.P.! They’re only little once, and there’s only 18 summers before they’re grown and gone. Savor each and every one.
Courtney is a Lifestyle Strategist, Speaker, and Stress Expert dedicated to showing high-achieving women how to StressLESS and LiveMORE.
After a fast-paced corporate career and overcoming cancer at the age of 25, Courtney realized that life’s too short to waste any time feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out. She believes every woman was put on this earth with power and purpose, and deserves to have success without the stress.
As the creator and founder of The StressLESS System©️, Courtney specializes in showing busy women how to ditch the overwhelm, create order out of life’s chaos, and find their inner peace.
She’s known for sharing simple, actionable steps to help them grow their business without the stress, so they can have more time to enjoy the life that’s in front of them right now. After all, “StressLESS, LiveMORE” is her motto!
Courtney lives in New Orleans with her husband Alan and their son AJ, a surprise miracle baby following her cancer treatments. You’ll find her hanging out wherever there’s dark chocolate and good cappuccino.
To learn more, you can connect with Courtney on Instagram @CourtneyElmer_ or on her website, CourtneyElmer.com