20 Tips for Traveling with Kids

This past week Joseph made a business trip to Kansas City, and I decided to turn the two nights into a fun little get away for the kids and me.  Our family does a decent bit of traveling, and I thought I would share a few of our tricks for traveling with kids.

Tip 1: Take advantage of the extras your hotel has to offer.

drury-inn-merriam-shawnee-missionWe didn’t get to pick our hotel this time, but I was excited when the conference booked us a room at the Drury Inn. This is my favorite hotel chain. Always clean and lots of great extras.

They offer continental breakfast, and then they have their 5:30 kick-backs. The menu varies each night (baked potatoes, soup, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, hot wings, baked spaghetti, meatballs, salad, and chips)  enough that it was dinner both nights for the kids and me.

IMG_6368Tip # 2: Don’t fill up on junk.

When eating breakfast, I try to have the kids eat the hot items and then we pick out some healthy other items to take back to our room for a mid morning snack.


Tip # 3: Research at home what to bring.

Be sure to pack the swim suits and water wings. The pool is always a hit and usually keeps them busy for a few hours. I am always surprised at how cold the water is. Eli and I spent most of our time on the steps, but with water wings, Eden was able to turn blue while burning off all that excitement from a long drive.

IMG_3478Tip #4: Make the special things special.

While eating out and along the drive, the kids drink water or milk. Then when I let Eden have soda, it makes it an extra special treat. So another fun extra from Drury Hotels is their late night snacks. They offer free soda and popcorn to all guest until 10pm. Getting soda is a special treat for Eden, but I still had her stick to the caffeine free options.


Eli didn’t get any soda, but he did enjoy his share of the popcorn. These paired with a movie in bed made for a fun 1st evening.

Tip #5: Pack a surprise bag.

IMG_6598Before our trip, Eden and I made a trip to the Dollar Tree and picked out a few goodies to put in a surprise bag. She picked a couple things that she thought would be fun, and I picked a few things she didn’t know about. Six dollars ahead of time helps fill all those waiting times that can make parents wish they didn’t go on the trip in the first place.

IMG_3469When I knew we were going to be having some down time, I would secretly set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes. I would put the kids to work tiding up the room or reading a few books on the bed.

A head of time I had explained the surprise bag and let the kids hear the time. When they heard the timer go off, they both would get so excited. I think Eli’s excitement was because of Eden’s excitement but that is fine.

IMG_6599Tip #6: Spread out the fun.

I like to spread out the activities and fun during our trip. If I let her, Eden would have done everything in the surprise bag and gone swimming within the first hour of arriving at the hotel. Practicing a little self-control is always a good lesson.


Another great use of the hotel resource is the using the iron for this bead craft. This one kept her busy for a while.


Tip # 7: Fun doesn’t have to equal lots of $.

One of the best items we brought were a set of toy boats. Using the hotel shampoo and body gel we filled bathtub up with more bubbles than our typical home bubble bathes.


The kids loved hiding the boats under the bubbles and would squeal with delight when they would find one.


Tip #8: Try to stay to your normal time schedule.

It is hard to nap and eat on our normal schedule while traveling, but I have found we all do better it we try. We started bath a little early, but I had saved this activity until our normal bath time in hopes it would be our normal clue that bed time was coming.


Tip #9: Look for free activities close by.

We spent most of the day Thursday at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. It has free entrance Monday through Thursday. If you are ever in the Overland Park, Kansas area, it was a great way to spend the day.


Tip #10: Make it educational.

For our family, most of our trips are educational in some way or another. Hey, why not learn and have fun at the same time. Here Eden is practicing her map skills while she figures out what we will do first.

IMG_6434While it was free to get in, we opted to buy a $10 package for a few extra’s throughout the farm. Our favorite was the mining activity.

IMG_3441We learned all about mining in the cave. Eden pretended to dig up her rough in the cave even though we got the dirt at the entrance to the activity.

IMG_6415We then headed to the sluice.

IMG_6395Eli loved being able to touch the water as it ran down.

IMG_6407Tip #11: Try not to rush.

To make the event take a little longer, we only put a little of the rough in at a time. It is tempting to rush from one thing to the next to try and get everything in, but I have found we all have a better time if we really enjoy the activity and maybe not visit each exhibit.

IMG_3442We then washed away the smaller rough and were left with all different kinds of gems.

IMG_6402The kids were great at taking turns picking out the gems.

IMG_6405Tip #12: Spend quality time together.

This day was about spending some good time with the kids. I didn’t have other distractions like the laundry or paper work. It was about talking together, laughing, and having fun.

IMG_6413Tip #13: Know when to move on.

We did this for a good hour before I finally poured the rest of the rough in and had one last go. The opposite of rushing throughout the exhibits is staying too long.

IMG_6423Lastly we worked to identify as many of the gems as we could.


Eden is already asking when Joseph’s next conference in KC is.

IMG_6433Eli didn’t want to leave. He is waving bye-bye as we are leaving. For those of you who know Eli well, he doesn’t normally let me get this far from him. I would say he enjoyed it too.


The farmstead had lots to offer. Included in our $10 was cane pole fishing, a pony ride, bottle feeding the baby goats, the mining activity, and a horse drawn carriage ride.


Tip #14: Travel with wipes and hand sanitizer.

Eden loved fishing but mommy didn’t as much, as daddy wasn’t there to take the fish off the hook. Mommy ended up having to take 3 fish off and then we gave the rest of our bait to another kid so mommy wouldn’t have to take care of more fish.


While Eli enjoyed playing in the water at the mining activity, I think he may have enjoyed bottle feeding the baby goats even more.


He knew what the bottles were for. I was afraid he might try to drink the milk, but he was too busy feeding to think about eating himself.


Tip #15: Praise the good behavoir.

With only one bottle the kids had to practice that whole sharing thing again. Sometimes it is harder than others but praising their good behavior helps to reinforce it.


Tip #16: Make new friends.

A farm trip wouldn’t be complete without a ride on a tractor and it is even more fun when doing so with a friend.



Someone’s legs were a little short so mommy had to push him around the loop.

When mommy ran out of gas Eli got off and pushed himself.

Tip #17: Be sure to bring your camera.

You will want to capture all those memories of your fun together.


I have also found that hotel rooms have great lighting for taking picture of the kids. Just pull back the comforter to the white sheets and open the windows.


This works pretty well while the TV is on. During the commercials capture a few smiles. They know they only have to smile until their show comes back on.


Getting the littlest ones to smile is the hard part. But sometimes a little bribe of candy from the surprise bag can make for big smiles.

Tip #18: Set a few rules.

IMG_3424My kids, and I think most kids, do best when there are set guidelines. Just because we are “on vacation” doesn’t mean we don’t follow a few rules.

1. No running in the parking lot. (We had a very close call this time – not because of my kids but because of a crazy driver.  Very thankful we went over this rule ahead of time.)

2. Be a kind and courteous hotel guest. We practice walking down the halls and using quiet voice. We play it like a game now, but it is becoming a good skill.

3. We take turns. Both of my kids love pushing the button at the elevator. Knowing this we decided the outside button was Eli’s turn and the inside button was Eden’s.


Tip #19: Remember there will be tears.

It doesn’t matter how organized, cheerful, and fun I am; both my kids will have a melt down at some point. It is going to happen. I remind myself it is stressful on everyone, including the kids, to travel. I give them an extra cuddle and most of the time that is all that is needed.


Tip #20: Try not to bring too much.

This is hard when traveling with kids, but remember everything you bring you have to put away when you get home.

Eli’s First Hair Cut

Eli had his first hair cut today. He was born with a good deal of dark hair but over the past year it has lightened a lot. He has his daddy’s hair with loose curls. Today he went to the barber for his first hair cut.


Before Pictures – If it wasn’t for the hair getting in his eyes I would have probably waited longer for his first cut.

IMG_6213We thought that Eli might have to sit on Joseph’s lap but the barber had a nice little booster thing (not really a seat but rather a shelf like thing that fixed to the normal chair) that he was very happy to sit on.

IMG_6215He was a little curious about the sound the razor was making and turned at first to see what was going on.

IMG_6219But after about ten seconds he got the hang of things and sat so nicely while his sweet curls feel to the floor.

IMG_6227When the barber moved to the other side, I was a little shocked by how short his hair was and had to hold my breath a little; reminding myself it is only hair and that it will grow back.

IMG_6237He sat so nice the whole time.

IMG_6248We told him that he was looking nice and he got excited and started ooh and awwing during the finishing touches.

IMG_6249My baby is no more. He is now a toddler with a big boy hair cut.

IMG_6258Eli even wanted to style it himself.


The only thing he didn’t like was being brushed off a the end.

IMG_6291After – He looks a lot like one of Joseph’s toddler photos here.

IMG_6292It is going to take me a bit to get us to the shorter hair but I think Eli is pretty happy with his new look.













Children’s and Youth Area Makeover

All my free time over the past two weeks has been used in finishing up the makeover for our children’s and youth area at church. This past Sunday everything had to be finished as we kicked off our fall programs with an open house. The whole church was invited down to see all the changes that have taken place and to learn a little about what happens when the kids are “downstairs”.

Our church has a wonderful children’s ministry that has been going on way before we came to Cuba United Methodist Church. I am so thankful to be part of a church that cares about their children and youth; it makes my job so much easier.

This makeover came at the result of significant growth to our children’s church attendance. We have grown from averaging 8 kids, to some Sundays having over 20 kids.

Room #1 Children’s Church Sanctuary


During worship we offer children’s church. After Joseph has children’s time upstairs, all the kids come down stairs to this room where we sing, have a Bible lesson, collect offering, and pray together.

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The kids made these banners a couple months ago and used them to process into the church when they lead worship. Each one symbolizes one of the stories we learned last year.

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The kids sit in pews just like their adults upstairs. It helps us remember that we are worshiping too.


We even have our own stained glass windows.

Room #2: Aka: The old kitchen, the old youth room, and the playroom.

This room is now called First Looks or The Owl’s Room and is for our preschool through 1st grade kids. Our goal for this age group is to “Provoke Wonder”.


After the kids finish up in the children’s sanctuary they continue their lesson with hands on activities in their classrooms.

This past week we learned about God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah. The kids got to take turns exploring in the dark the night sky (water beads and glow in the dark stars). We sat and pretended to look for stars in the sky and even found a surprise in the “sky” for us.


I am so excited about all the fun things we are going to get to do in this younger kids class as we “Incite Wonder” in hearts of these kids. Next week we will be having our lesson in a tent.

Room #3 The Workshop; where we cover the nuts and bolts of our faith.

This room is used for Sunday School and our school aged kids small group. Our goal for this age group is to “Provoke Discovery”.

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Room #4 Youth

Our youth program is just getting up and going but we tried to give them a fun new space too. Our goal for this age group is to “Fuel Passion”.


We turned one wall into a chalkboard wall with the hopes to change up the design and feel of the room often.


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Before and After


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Before and After – Fresh coating of paint and new Mission Wall


The mission wall is my favorite new addition to this area.


At least once a year our children and youth participate in a mission project. Each frame explains one of the projects they completed and what country it was done in. It is so cool to watch the kids match the project with the country and share with newer children what their projects were all about.