PART 2 – Best Tips for Stress-Free Family Travel:  Food and Fun

Last week we talked about pre-trip planning and steps to take before you leave.  You can check out that post by clicking here. This week, we’ll share some tips of things to bring for travel, as well as a grocery list for you to print out and use, and we’d love to hear your tips!

Keeping Kids Engaged
Audiobooks:  Audiobooks are awesomely entertaining, and far better for kids than DVD’s, because they help with reading comprehension and vocabulary, while engaging children’s imaginations, and leaving their eyes free to enjoy the scenery, which means that it’s also better for their eyes, not staying so narrowly focused for such extended periods.  You will likely find that with audiobooks your kids will be able to understand and enjoy stories above their reading level.  In other words, they usually have an auditory comprehension level that exceeds their ability to read comfortably.  In addition, audiobooks are fantastic for expanded vocabulary…for using bigger words and hearing how they’re pronounced…for hearing professional readers, using inflections, pace and tones.  So, while “a picture’s worth a thousand words”, when it comes to kid’s education, we’ll take the thousand words, thank you!

Listening to audiobooks on family road trips can create more memorable holidays, while bringing the family together in discussions about the shared story, and enjoy discussing words, phrases, and their meanings.  For some, the vacations and other road trips are remembered best by the stories shared along the way.  “Mom, remember the trip to the beach when we listened to Eragon?” , “Dad, when we go on vacation this year, can we listen to The Lightning Thief again.”  (Dad:  “How about another one of the Percy Jackson books?”  ;-)).

Stories teach on so many levels, and provide so many opportunities for young children to learn to communicate and articulate what they heard.  This provides an opportunity to discuss anything they might not have understood, while giving them practice in learning how to communicate ideas, concepts, and summaries…all good practice for future book reports!

Can you tell we love audiobooks?  They’re a great way to pass time in the car, no matter how old you are!  In fact, plug in a good audiobook and you may never again hear, “Are we there yet?”

Great audiobooks kids will enjoy (preschoolers)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Three Little Pigs
Oh, The Places You’ll Go (and anything by Dr. Seuss)
Curious George
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Great audiobooks kids will enjoy (ages 5-8)
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Charlotte’s Web
Stuart Little
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Some great audiobooks kids enjoy (ages 9-12)
The Lighting Thief  (6 book series)
My Side of the Mountain
39 Clues (11 book series)
Charlie Bone (8 book series)
Maximum Ride (8 book series, great for whole family!)
Magyk (6 book series)

On iTunes, Amazon, or Audible you’ll see other suggestions once you start looking from the list above that you might enjoy as well.  Also, don’t forget your the public library and it’s free resources!

Food – Keeping Kids Calm:  Leave home without the sugar!  Even though it’s vacation time, save the sweet treats for special times and not for travel portion.  Travel can make everyone weary, and kids on sugar seesaw between euphoric and super silly (and noisy), as they swing between sugar highs and lows. So, better to set the stage for a calm and relaxed journey.

Some parents think that they have to give into child-tantrums for treats for peace, but instead this really just sets the stage for more tantrums as the sugar buzz wears off and wreaks havoc with the blood sugar.

Instead, create a shopping list or use this one to help you plan for packing healthy snacks, and don’t forget to have the kids help you prepare the food for the trip.  Kids learn team-work and how to contribute by playing an active role in helping, and it also helps them to feel included and important.  Ask their preference on some things such as, “Would you like to pack the drinks or help make the sandwiches?”  This allows them to choose and feel important while you make the executive decision on what gets packed.

Shopping List:

Apples, (cut into wedges for less mess for the kids)
Mandarin Oranges (these are seedless and peel easily)
Grapes and bananas
Veggie tray (or you can cut up some of your favorites)
Sandwiches, PB&J, cheese, (use 100% fruit spreads, so no added sweeteners)
Nuts, preferably unsalted
Boiled eggs
Chobani Greek single serve yogurts (or any brand with little to no sugar)
Chips (baked not fried)
Whole grain crackers (choose those with no sugar, such as whole wheat Triscuits)
Cheese sticks
Natural, no-sugar/no sweetener drinks such as Izze, coconut waters, Hint, nut milks, etc.
Pack extra produce bags for the food refuse and napkins or paper towels

We’d love to hear about your travel tips, favorite entertainment, and foods list, so please share and comment here and on our Facebook page.

And, amidst any hectic times, just remember that it’s really all about being together as a family, enjoying something new, and–most importantly–each other!