Traveling with Kids in Southwest Montana

Southwest Montana is a great place to travel with your family. There is so much to see and do in the area! Any one traveling with kids gets it … there is a lot of packing and planning to be done before you embark on any adventure. We’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind as you plan your family vacation to Montana!

Gates of the Mountains Boat Tour, Wanderlust

Plan ahead.

Start out your trip right by packing appropriate snacks for your kids. If you are going to be in the car for much of the day, have some healthy snacks on hand that won’t make a mess in your vehicle.  Dried fruit, trail mix, fruit snacks, baby carrots and nuts packed in individual serving bags are all great choices and can be easily cleaned up when you get out of the car. Bring water bottles to refill along the way, and nobody will be upset when an accidental spill occurs.  If you are planning for a lot of driving, you may want to consider bringing along a small cooler and packing a picnic lunch. Most of Southwest Montana’s communities will have a public park with picnic tables and a playground. This provides a chance for the kids to get out, run and stretch their legs, and parents a chance to relax for a bit in the warm sunshine. You’ll also find great picnic spots along the road if you are driving through one of our National Forests, State Parks, or Wildlife Refuges. The kids will love to explore, and you’ll enjoy the fresh air.

Pack new and interesting activities for the car.

No matter how beautiful the scenery outside, a day spent in the car will always yield the common “I’m bored!” cries from the backseat. Be sure to put together some age appropriate activities to combat those moments. Bring along coloring sheets and a small amount of crayons or colored pencils in a large zip lock bag for the younger kids, and some crossword puzzles and word search activities along with pencils for the older kids. Be sure that you have a clipboard for each child to make the experience more fun. Add in a small journal type notebook so your kids can draw something they see outside, or write down their thoughts about the trip. These will be priceless reminders of their experiences. Think about activities that are easy things to work on independently, and will also give kids the opportunity to gaze outside at Montana’s stunning scenery.

Exploring Virginia City, Wanderlust

Do your research.

If you are going to visit an attraction, find out what it is all about so you can share that with the kids ahead of time. They will get more out of the visit if they have a heads up about what to expect. For instance, if your day includes a visit to a ghost town, do some research ahead of time so you can share some tidbits with your kids. Keep it simple – they don’t need information overload on vacation! For example, you might want to tell your kids: “Did you know that $40,000,000 worth of silver was taken from the Granite mine? That is a lot of money even today!” Just a little information will give the kids something to think about as they view the old abandoned buildings and imagine what life was like in this town back in 1872.

Let your kids help plan the trip.

If you are deciding between two or three activities, let the kids have a say in what you do for the day. When they are invested in the decision making process, they are more likely to look forward to the trip and will enjoy the activity that much more.

Plan your days to include activities.  

No kid wants to spend their entire vacation in a vehicle, and the best way to experience Southwest Montana is to get outside! There are plenty of hands-on activities to participate in, so be sure that each day includes some kind of activity. Hiking, biking and swimming are always popular with the kids. Guided activities in the area include river trips, fishing excursions and horseback riding. Be sure to let your guide know ahead of time that you are traveling with kids and what their ages are so the guides can ensure the best experience for your family. Kids are sure to enjoy the guided tours offered throughout Southwest Montana. Great family destinations in the area include: historical sites, hot springs, and museums. Let your kids get their hands dirty digging for their own Montana treasures. They’ll come home with great memories and great souvenirs!

Exploring Lewis and Clark Caverns, Wanderlust

Plan for the weather!  

Nothing makes a vacation more miserable than not being prepared for the weather. Summer  temperatures in Montana can range from cool and rainy to very hot, and conditions can change very quickly. Your best bet is to dress everyone in layers. Be sure to pack shorts and pants, long and short sleeve shirts, and rain gear. Check the weather report before you leave your base camp for the day.  Afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon in the area, and are more enjoyable from the inside looking out. Sunscreen is a must, along with some type of bug repellant if your day includes fun along the water. 

What are you waiting for? Start planning your family’s Montana Adventure today!