Summer is here and for many families that means vacation and travel. This can be both an opportunity for great fun and memories or a completely stressful situation, especially if extended car travel or a disruptive routine tend to set your child off.
Fortunately, our therapist has shared some excellent travel and vacation tips with us that we found extremely helpful:
Have Games for the Car: Being stuck in the car for hours is no fun for a child who can’t control his or her energy. Having a long list of games to turn to can help make it easier. I Spy, The Alphabet Game, and other car games the whole family can play while driving helps quite a bit. Playing I Spy is as simple as someone giving a clue as to what they see and then everyone else guessing what it is. The Alphabet Game is where you look for the letters A to Z on road signs, license plates, and more.
Have a Few Special Surprises: Vacation is a great time to surprise your child with a new treat. Some kids will be elated with a pack of brand new markers or crayons. Others may be happy with a puzzle. You’ll know your child best and be able to choose something small that will be great to pull out if they start feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t Plan Too Much: If your vacation itinerary starts at 8 am with you finally collapsing at midnight, you’ll likely have a lot of frustration throughout the day. Make sure you allot enough time to really enjoy an activity and also plan for relaxation breaks throughout the day.
Maintain as Much Routine as Possible: When you are on vacation, having a routine can be tricky. Make sure you follow the usual morning/bedtime routines as close as possible. You may also want to consider using a checklist that you make in the morning or the night before of things you will be doing during the day to help your child adjust to the change in routine.
Get Them Involved: Having children involved in the travel plans can help them feel important and special. You will have to think about what your child likes to do the most. For example, if your child loves photography, he or she might have fun being in charge of taking all the pictures for the trip. If your kid is a “where are we, what time is it” type, then they might like a map to help them keep track. Think where your child’s strengths are and how you can use those strengths to be part of the planning and organizing process.
Keep a Vacation Journal: A blank notebook can be a great canvas for older kids to keep a vacation journal. Have them draw a picture of what you did that day or write about what they like so far or something funny that has happened if they are older. This helps them stay on task with school related work, but in a fun way. This is a great activity for when you as parents need some much needed down time.
Travel When it Isn’t Busy: Going somewhere in the peak of the tourist season can be a recipe for disaster if there are large crowds, lots of waiting in line, or being stuck in traffic. Try to go in the off season or times when it isn’t that busy.
Prepare Your Child: If you have a travel brochure or find some pictures online of where you are going and what you will be doing, it can greatly help kids build excitement for the trip without worrying about exactly what will happen. Knowing what they will see ahead of time can help with the over stimulation they might feel at first.
Travel and vacation can be a lot of fun with the whole family when you follow these tips. While there are bound to be a few disruptions and even possibly a few behavioral issues while you are away, you’ll find that planning in advance can greatly help in making summer vacation travel a better experience for you all.