The wild and wonderful world of family trips. They are so rewarding and so special. Those precious moments you spend with your children and partner, unburdened from the trials and tribulations of work and everyday life back home—the memories of these moments will be priceless to you and your kids.

Stay Sane and Relaxed on Family Trips

But let’s be real: family vacation is not without its downsides. If you are going on a roadtrip, you are going to need to contend with the hours spent crammed into a small box with your family and all the physical and emotional baggage you’ve lugged from home. If you have a final destination, you have to put up with your children’s impatience and the constant barrage of “Are we there yet?” or “I’m bored!”

Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that the headache will be all worth it. It’s just about surviving the headaches that come between those special, priceless moments. Here are five ways to keep it all in perspective and stay sane on your next family trip.

Plan Ahead, Stay Organized

As a parent, you already know how imperative this step is, but it is worth emphasizing that the more you plan, the better. We all know not everything goes the way we hope it will. However, the more details you have hammered out in your head means less surprises down the metaphorical (and physical) road lying ahead.

Have a “command central” wherein you keep everyone’s essentials, any valuables you may be traveling with, and anything relevant to your itineraries such as tickets or passports. This bag or suitcase should be your number one priority (after your children and your spouse, of course!) to keep track of.

Have Snacks at the Ready

Eating while on a trip can be a herculean task for health-conscious parents. After all, gas station or airport food isn’t ideal for nurturing your children (or yourself, for that matter). Plus, you don’t want to keep diverting off course to find sustenance for your hungry little ones. Diversions for food and potty breaks can seriously set back the timeline of a well thought out road trip.

Travel prepared with pre-packaged, shelf-stable snacks if you don’t have access to refrigeration. If you are roadtripping, definitely invest in a good cooler. There are many great options available for reasonable prices. Some can keep ice and food cold for up to two weeks! The cash you will drop on a nice cooler that lasts a lifetime is a small pittance compared to the fortune you would have spent buying food for every meal on the road.

Prioritize Small Comforts

Having little tokens of comfort from back home can come in handy when it is time to comfort an anxious young child—or even yourself! Whether it is your toddler’s favorite pillow in the shape of a cartoon or a luxury travel pillow like one from Muse Sleep, you will be glad to have brought reminders of the domestic bliss you are taking a break from.

Investing a little cash upfront for your continued comfort and the comfort of your children is a good idea. Uncomfortable children may not be able to vocalize that they are not feeling discomfort, so they will act out in other ways instead.

To keep this from starting a fight between kids in the backseat or bothering other guests at a resort, nip this in the bud before it starts. Make sure your carseats are well cushioned and everyone is having a good time.

Have Travel Games in Your Back Pocket

Your kids have likely come up with their own variations on travel games, but, if they haven’t, it is always fun to give them a little direction when it comes to games on the go. This occupies their mind and keeps attention of the mundanities of travel.

Some games are specific to road trips, like the license plate or cow game, but other games can be played anywhere. Whether it’s 20 questions, the name game, or I-spy, these classics are the key to the success of seasoned family trip veterans.

Be Flexible

Just because you have the perfect itinerary planned down to the second does not mean that you have to follow it to the letter. Having small children and even teens means rolling with the punches. You know this, and just because you are investing time and money in a family trip doesn’t mean you get to stop being understanding of this.

Your best bet is to plan some wiggle room in your schedule from the get-go, but, most of all, remember to go easy on your children—and yourself. If you get frustrated, take some space and take a breath. It’s going to be fine. It’s not just about your children having fun: you should have a good time too, so try not to take it so seriously!

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