You may love your kids, but the truth is, traveling with children can be a bit complicated, if not stressful. Their attention spans are smaller. Their temperaments and needs may vary. And the other adults you may be sharing flights with or general space with may not be as patient with your kids as you are. That’s ok.
Traveling with children is different, but it’s also great fun and rewarding. Here are our ten tips to make traveling with your kids easier, so you can focus on the good stuff.
1. Pack Adequate Snacks
Whether you have kids who are on baby food or solid grown up food, you’ve gotta have enough snacks on hand to get them through the journey. If you aren’t a fan of being hungry, you already know that your child has much less patience and constraint. Hunger is one of the easiest frustrations to soothe, so save yourself from an unnecessary meltdown and pack, baby food (if needed), dried snacks (crackers), small fruits (grapes, apples) and buy drinks before boarding the plane. This will help to keep your kids happy and even keel. These traveling with kids are perfect storage option.
2. Devices are Your Friend
While we’d never tell you to have your kids play with iPads and cellphones 24/7, these devices can provide a great distraction to your kids and buy you a few minutes of peace while you try to look up directions, go for a bathroom break or eat your in flight meals. Load up your tablets and phones with games, music, movies or cartoons that can keep them entertained for as long as possible. Need a good charger? This traveling with kids will keep your devices charged up.
3. Focus on Comfort
Driving, flying or being on a train for hours at a time can be uncomfortable all on its own, so don’t give your children another reason to be uncomfortable. Dress them in soft, roomy clothing that can be layered. You can add or remove layers based on how warm or cold it gets. It’s also a great idea to allow your children to bring their favorite blankets and pillows so they can fall asleep with something familiar. If you need a superb option for pillows to use in flight, check out this 4 in 1 travel sleeping kit.
4. Have Some Extra Clothes and Diapers on Hand
When you’re traveling with your kids, it’s always a good idea to have clothes and diapers that are immediately accessible. So if you’re traveling by plane, for example, you’re going to need clothes in your carry-on luggage. You don’t want to get caught off guard if you’re child has a spill or throws up on themselves. It’d be pretty miserable for the child and the passengers nearby to smell your child’s vomit or bodily waste for the remainder of the trip, so do yourself a favor, and come prepared.
5. Bring Wipes
Kids always manage to get sticky. Whether it’s food, candy or getting into mischief, they find a way to make a mess. Having wet wipes on hand makes it easy to clean up without too much hassle.
6. FORCE Your Kids to Use to Bathroom
No one likes to be forced to do anything, but sometimes, you’ve got to make the practical decision. If you are about to be on the road for a long time, have your child(ren) go into the restroom and try to use it, even if they think they feel fine. Otherwise, your child may feel a burning need to use the bathroom at the most inconvenient time. For example, you might be preparing to drive into Mexico and you’re in line to cross the border. Or, you may be on a plane and the bathroom may already be occupied. These are not opportune times to use the restroom, but by this point, your child may be desperate. They could have accident because they couldn’t wait until an opportunity presented itself, and things could get messy. You can avoid all of this by having your kids use the bathroom when it makes the most sense, instead of just waiting until they want to use it.
7. Be Prepared for Sudden Sickness and Accidents
When you’re traveling, it’s easy to start sniffling or catch the unexpected bug. Be sure to have a sick bag with basic medicines for colds and coughs. Also have some first aid items, and be sure to invest in traveling medical insurance, that way, your family’s covered if an accident happens or an illness strikes.
8. Use Backpacks as Flight Carry On Bag
When you’re traveling with your family, there are going to be a lot of bags. Enter the backpack solution! Sometimes, we forget that backpacks aren’t just for kids and students. They are the perfect way to carry things without have to drag a suitcase around. This way you can tend to your kids, hold their hand or pick them up if need be, without worrying about finding a safe place to rest your suitcase.
9. Role Play for Scared Travelers
If your child has a fear of flying, it’s a great idea to go through a role playing activity with them to soothe their nerves and help them understand what to expect.
Let your child pretend to be a pilot or a flight attendant and act out the different scenarios that happen on a plane. Doing this can help to avoid flight anxiety.
10. Make Sure to Take Care of Yourself
When you’re traveling with kids, they tend to be the priority, and that’s okay, just be sure to make yourself a priority too. Make sure you pack aspirin in case of headaches, and be sure to load up on Vitamin C to keep your immunity strong. If you need help, or a moment to get something accomplished, it’s okay to ask for help. For example, asking a flight attendant to keep an eye on a toddler if you need to go to the bathroom is okay. Asking a friend or family member to travel with you if your spouse isn’t available is okay. The fact that you are broadening your child’s horizons by traveling with them is a big deal, don't feel the need to cave into every desire your child may have at the expense of your own.
Keep these tips in mind when traveling with children, and you’ll spend less time putting out fires or more time building life lasting memories. Have tricks you use to keep your travels with kids running smoothly? Share them in the comments below.