(BPT) - Whether you’re on a road trip or plane ride, every parent knows the journey can be a challenge. Long hours waiting or riding can test any kid’s — or parent’s — patience. With a little preparation, however, you can ensure your family (and you) will be happier throughout your trip.
“One major challenge can be making sure your family members are well fed and hydrated while you travel, to prevent them from getting ‘hangry’ or resorting to high-sugar, low-nutrient snacks,” says nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN. “Planning snacks and drinks ahead is worth the effort for a happier, healthier trip.”
Here are some travel hacks to make the journey almost as much fun as getting to your destination.
1. Car hacks
The best way to prep for a car trip is planning age-appropriate activities and packing essentials — like snacks and water bottles. Keeping toys reserved only for trips will also make them special, giving kids something to look forward to.
Drinks and snacks
A small cooler can help keep drinks and fruit chilled during your ride. “You’ll also want to pack snacks that aren’t too messy, including some with protein to keep your family fueled up,” says Kirkpatrick.
When passing fast food restaurants and candy-filled rest stops that leave your family begging for sweets, Quest Hero Protein Bars can satisfy your family’s desire for a crispy, crunchy and creamy snack. With a satiating 15-18g protein and 1 gram of sugar per bar, they are a perfect sweet treat or snack. Two new flavors have recently been added to their line-up: Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Coconut.
Some old classics don’t need prep, but a little planning can create new spins on old games to keep them fun and challenging.
- Track your map: Print a map of your route and post on the back of the front seats so kids can follow along. Use colored markers to indicate the route and use a dot for snack stops or other locations. At each stop, have kids mark where you are on the map.
- The license plate game: Kids spot license plates of cars to identify the states. They could write them down, or you can create bingo cards with states you're most likely to see (like neighboring states).
- Scenery bingo: You could also create bingo cards with landmarks or scenery you'll see on your route.
2. Plane hacks
The hardest part about plane journeys is waiting at the airport. Planning games and snacks ahead will result in much happier kids once they’re on the plane and distracted by the interesting surroundings (and hopefully views out the window).
Bring a snack bag
Avoid high prices and unhealthy snacking on the plane and in the airport by packing your own snacks in your travel bag.
“Snacks can include nuts and dried fruits, whole fruit like a cut-up apple with individual peanut butter packets, Quest Candy Bites or Quest Peanut Butter Cups, which will satisfy all family members,” says Kirkpatrick.
Pack an empty water bottle
It’s easy to dehydrate while flying, and bringing an empty bottle helps avoid the temptation of sugary drinks, giving you the chance to fill up in the airport before you get on the plane.
Airport and airplane games
- I spy: This classic takes no preparation, and many ages can play. One player says, “I spy with my little eye …” and gives clues about something they can see around them (without staring at it). Everyone else guesses, and the winner is the next to play. This game can also be played in the car.
- Continue a story: For longer waits or trips, make up a “continuing story,” taking turns, using something you see around you as inspiration. A parent can model storytelling by starting, “Once upon a time, there was a girl arriving at the airport,” continuing for a few minutes until the next person’s turn. Set a timer to switch to the next storyteller or let someone raise a hand when they have an idea — the rules are up to you!
Planning a family trip? Stay #Onaquest and find great travel snack options at QuestNutrition.com.