Travel ideas to make spring break easy and fun for everyone

Planes, trains and automobiles! Spring break trips are just around the corner. With help from some travel pros, I pulled together ways to make those family expeditions smoother.

Let’s start with a tip that works for all types of travel: Stow a stash of loveys and binkies.

How the times have changed! A year ago in the era B.B. (Before Baby), I did not even know that those stuffed toys and blankets that seem attached to little ones were called loveys. Anyway, those prized possessions or a pacifier could help your pint-sized explorer stay calm and travel on. Now, fasten your seatbelts, it’s time to move on to some airline advice.

Friendly skies for families

Trips that start on a flight out of O’Hare or Midway airports could seem daunting for family travel newbies like me, but these flight-specific ideas will ensure your spring break trip takes off on the right foot.

Travel with a backpack diaper bag with water bottle holders. Just be sure the bottles are empty before you head through airport security and then find a fountain to fill up. This will save you from having to buy pricey bottled water for the pre-flight wait.

People who anticipate frequent family plane travel should consider PreCheck to cut down on security wait time. It is affordable and children under 12 are free.

Military families can take advantage of United Service Organizations (USO) centers at both Midway and O’Hare. They offer complimentary internet, snacks and more for families on the go.

The little engine that could … savor a family train trip

Hopping on an Amtrak train could be a great fit for your family this spring! If traveling light and traveling with kids seems impossible, Amtrak offers a lot of bang for your baggage buck. Check out all of the baggage that you can bring!

Another perk of family travel on Amtrak is the discount for children. Tickets for kiddos between 2 and 12 are half price and the tiniest train travelers (under 2) ride free.

A trip to a children’s museum in Illinois could make for a memorable family outing. Both Galesburg and Normal boast museums very close to train stations.

If you are scouting out colleges for one of your children, a family train trip could work well. Trains to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Southern Illinois University are great options.

A table in the dining car could be ideal for the family to relax and enjoy the ride. Bring along a deck of cards or UNO and the time will fly by before you know it!

Snack ‘n play on a family road trip

Snacking is an easy and affordable way to keep the whole family fed during a road trip. This will avoid resorting to undesirable gas station surprise food. M&M trail mix and cut up strawberries or oranges are a couple of our go-to favorites.

For breastfeeding mamas, if a road trip is on the calendar, this is not the time to wean your bambino off of nursing. Just think how handy food on demand can be to keep your little one full (and quiet!) during stops along your road trip. A light scarf works just as well as an official nursing cover and can serve double duty on your adventure.

Channel you inner puppeteer and put on a show for your kiddos. Finger puppets will bring the smiles and not eat up that precious car space. Growing up, my parents turned everything into a game. We loved spotting license plates from different states and mastering those kooky tongue twisters. My favorite game was 20 Questions. Whoever came up with that one must have had passing the time on the open road in mind!

Whether you are heading out on a plane, train or automobile this spring break, I hope these tips are helpful. Happy travels!

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