Family travel: Helping kids pack for a trip abroad
The glamorous side of travel is exciting, but veteran jetsetters know that there's some preparation involved, too. One of the perennial travel hassles is packing - it's filled with uncertainties, questions and a decent amount of physical labor - particularly if you over-pack.
Families traveling together are well-versed in having to deal with many bags for many people. That might not be as much of an issue for a weekend trip to Grandma's house or a road trip in a roomy SUV. Families going abroad on a European tour
for the first time will have some new considerations to make before jetting off for their adventure.
Keep these packing tips in mind as your family prepares for take-off:
* Start early. Late night packing the day before your flight is a common pitfall that often ends in some cranky attitudes and forgotten items. Once you've booked your Europe tour
, mark a calendar with your departure date and a date to start packing. Make it at least a week ahead of your flight, and encourage kids to add things bit by bit - and even take things out as needed. Younger kids will naturally need more monitoring.
* Check the weather. If your family is headed to Amsterdam, Paris and Rome, you'll be sure to run into a variety of weather systems. A tool like Weather Underground
's weather history reports can provide you with many years' worth of past weather data that might make it easier to predict what you need to pack.
* Plan for fun. If you choose a tour operator that is family friendly, they'll have built activities into the agenda to keep kids interested and having fun. However, you'll probably need something to occupy kids' attention during down time, such as at the airport or when traveling by road. Books or e-readers and mp3 players are good options, but you might also consider a travel game or a sketch pad and colored pencils. Just remember to keep it small and portable.
* Be health conscious. Getting sick on vacation is no fun for anyone - so do everything you can to prevent it. It's a good idea to pack a day pack with disinfectant wipes or gel for those times when a sink just isn't accessible. In addition, a first aid kit
and stash of medicines to settle stomachs and dispel aches and pains is a good idea.