Kids-Traveling-airportSilence fills the cabin of the car. We’ve just dropped the kids with Grandma for the weekend and are making the drive back home. This is the first time our toddler and pre-kindergarten kids have stayed with someone else. While we are by no means experts on the topic, we have learned a few tricks along the way.

Make a Packing List
I have all sorts of packing lists, such as my own list for when I travel solo for business and even a list of What to Bring when Flying with a Four- or Five-Year-Old. Packing for the kids – and only the kids – was a different challenge. I wanted to make sure to bring enough clothes, diapers, healthy snacks and other necessities that they wouldn’t need anything, yet I didn’t want to overpack.

As usual, I thought of a few items that hadn’t been packed (and probably wouldn’t be crucially important) that I will write down for the next trip.

Learn Family Expectations Before Leaving
Before dropping off the kids, we discussed what expectations the grandparents had for the weekend, as well as the kids’ abilities and routines. In addition, we sat down with the kids to talk about how to behave as a guest at someone’s house. While they’re a bit young for a long talk, it’s important at any age to lay down the ground rules before the trip.

Prepare for the Unexpected
Accidents do happen, even on vacation. Because we would be about four hours away from the kids, the grandparents’ requested that we draft a letter handing over temporary guardianship to them, which we signed and had notarized. That way, if an accident does happen, they have legal authority to authorize treatment.

Teresa J. Shaw is editor of the Free in 50 States section and writes about traveling as a working mom for Traveling Mom. Visit her website at Working Traveling Mom and follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw.