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How to Travel With Kids

Allison Waken shares how to make traveling with kids fun as part of the Care.com Interview Series.



Allison Waken, author of the blog All for the Boys, knows all about traveling with kids - the good and the bad! From puke bags to gag gifts and last minute wardrobe dilemmas, Waken has learned how to avoid disaster and make vacations enjoyable for everyone. See how she preps for travel and what tips you might find necessary when packing up your brood.

1. Be ready for anything. So you won't worry about anything. For example, have empty bags on hand at all times in case someone gets sick.

2. Plan ahead. Know where you can stop to stay if you don't get as far as you planned or if your situation changes.

3. Don't break out all the activities at once. I like to keep the travel activities with me and give them something new when they are obviously done with their current one. If they get them all at once they will lose interest very quickly.

4. Keep the mood light. We like silly dress-up items like fake teeth or mustaches to keep the mood light. Breaking up a sibling argument is SO much easier with some crazy teeth and an accent.

5. Be realistic. Don't set unrealistic expectations and learn to "go with the flow". This will save everyone's sanity.

6. Pack smart. I like packing the boys' clothes in outfits. We roll underwear, socks, shirt, and bottoms into a burrito. That way one roll comes out a day and there is no question as to what goes together.

Read more of Allison Waken's tips on traveling with kids in our full interview below. You can also find Allison on Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us about your family and your blog.

I am a wife and mom of 2 boys, 2 dogs, and right now 6 snakes (the family project apparently). We live in the sunny desert of Phoenix, AZ and LOVE to travel. My blog All for the Boys was started with my boys in mind. A place to gather inspiration, activities, ideas, and projects I know they'd love.

When you know that your family will be going on a trip, what are the first steps you take to ensure smooth travel?

Sometimes it is fun to surprise the kids for a trip but usually I like to tell them as soon as I know for sure it's happening. I like to get them involved and planning in the early stages so they can mentally prepare (and build excitement). I also start the list making and my boy start theirs as well.

Do you handle long car rides differently from a plane trip?

Yes and no. I always have plenty of activities ready to go but if time allows I try to plan stops on a car ride. A time to stretch and explore. The actual traveling is a big part of the adventure!

Do you have any go-to activities when traveling with kids to keep everyone happy?

It definitely changes as they get older. I love to keep a "prize bag" that they can choose from either on a timed basis (every hour) or as they make good choices.

How do you handle snacks/drinks on long trips?

I try to stay away from too much "bored snacking" so we bring healthy, filling, homemade snacks and plan meals accordingly. A non spill bottle is a must for water or transferring purchased drinks to.

Where do you find travel inspiration and tips?

I love browsing travel tips in magazines, Pinterest, and the travel section at the bookstore. My kids are now old enough to have their own inspiration as well. Their travel inspiration list is a mile long!

How do you pack for summer vacation?

Layers! We are from the desert and are used to very hot, very dry summers. I think kids should definitely be involved. You don't want to forget their favorite shirt or pack the most uncomfortable shorts. Hoodies and bathing suits go in their own little section for easy access.

What is your biggest challenge while traveling with kids?

The stuff! I can hardly pack lightly myself let alone my 2 kids!

Do you have any funny stories about traveling with kids? We want to know about it!

I think every family has those stories that weren't funny at the time, but you can laugh at now. We have plenty of those! Like the time we were traveling with my husband who needed to be in another state for business and realized we left his dress clothes at home. At 9pm. In the middle of nowhere. We found a place on our phones that closed at 11pm and we were literally running in, holding sleeping kids grabbing whatever might fit at 10:58pm. Or the time we decided to try the route our phone suggested instead of the old standby. The route that took us almost 3 hours out of the way because we had to go 20mph on the windiest road over a mountain you have ever seen.

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Allison Waken is a mom, wife and photographer in Phoenix, AZ. Her experience in traveling with kids comes from frequently traveling to Southern California to visit family. She created her blog All for the Boys as a place to gather and share inspiration and the sometimes hard to find things boys would love.

For more tips, read the rest of our Care.com Interview Series: Summer Savvy Tips

Photos used with permission by Allison Waken

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