Author: Julie A. Morris
For many parents, anticipating traveling with their children is almost as stressful as the actual traveling. From entertaining a bored toddler in a car to soothing an uncomfortable infant on a plane, we sometimes tend to expect the worst—often for no reason. Letting that stress build up before we actually experience it can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that’s not a fun way to start a vacation.
Parents can reduce the amount of travel stress and anxiety with a little preparation and a lot of positive attitude. And neither of those have to break the bank. Brought to you by Eat, Play, Travel, here are four budget-friendly ways to create a low-stress travel experience.
Invest in Electronic Devices
Traveling can be fun and exciting for children in general, but you can keep them entertained and distracted by introducing a new and exciting electronic device, like a tablet, portable game system, new headphones or hand-held DVD player. The novelty of the new gadget will be exciting, but also the games, movies, music and apps they can download and play. It may also be worthwhile to purchase a pair of headphones (wireless earbuds are good choices!) so their games don’t disrupt those around them.
While many of these kinds of purchases can be pretty pricey, shopping around for the best tech deals can help make the cost more manageable. You don’t have to buy these items new. Many games and gadgets are available on sites like eBay, and you can save even more by finding cash back deals, coupons, and promo codes. Be sure any device you buy is fully charged and loaded with entertainment before you hit the road.
Think About Additional Diaper Bag Necessities
Traveling with infants and toddlers can be extremely anxiety-producing. What if there is a diaper blowout on the plane? What do you do if your baby cries the whole flight? One of the best ways to ease these worries is to make sure your diaper bag has all your bases covered. Aside from accessories for your baby, bring useful items like a wet bag, hair ties, an extra shirt, and hand sanitizer so you’re equipped for minor disasters. Search online for deep discounts on these items well in advance of your trip so you can stock up for any possibility you may encounter.
Be Flexible With Unexpected Changes
Planes get delayed. Hotels can be overbooked. Not everything on your itinerary will go as planned, and if you accept—even embrace—that now, you can save yourself a lot of heartache in the future. If some unexpected hitch clogs up your plans, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen?” You might have to get on a later flight. In that case, plan a scavenger hunt game with your family in the airport. If you have to find alternate accommodations, opt for an Airbnb instead of a hotel room, which could save you money and still provide fun amenities for the kids.
Plan Adventurous Stops Along the Way
Road trips can be long and tedious for kids and teens, even when you give them unfettered access to a smartphone or tablet. You can make the stress of car trips easier by planning fun adventures along the way. Your route can take you by some tourist traps that may be pricey, while others may fit better into your budget. Get creative and plan a stop in a national park or forest for a picnic and a small hike to stretch your legs. Many states boast roadside attractions like drive-through zoos or orchards where you can pick your own fruit. Plan a few of these mini trips within your travel time to help break up the monotony of the road.
Remember, if you’re feeling stressed, your kids are feeling stressed. They are looking to you to set the tone for travel and vacation. Stay calm, and plan ahead to avoid stretching your budget on the trip. Most importantly, enjoy all the moments you can, so that your kids feel excited and at-ease with travel.