My Tips for Traveling with Kids
Travel memories are often the fondest – all the bonding time, the new adventures, and the break from routine can feel magical to children, whether it’s a road trip to a town a few miles away or a weeks-long jaunt around the world.
But for many parents (myself included!) travelling with children can feel as daunting as running a marathon or climbing a mountain. While I can’t promise to make travel completely stress-free (that would take some serious magic!) I do know that if you follow these tips you can spend all that extra energy soaking up the memories. I’ve also included, at the end specific tips for pregnant travelers. For breastfeeding on the road, don’t miss this post on nursing while traveling.
Most of all, remember that the journey is part of the adventure and it can be just as full of anxiety and excitement for kids as it is for you. Take a little time to explain all the steps of the trip and then try and enjoy them, even if they don’t go according to plan. Just because you aren’t sunning yourself with a cocktail by the pool doesn’t mean you’re not on vacation!
1) Forget all your normal rules (if you have any, which I hope you have a few) like “no sugar!” A few well-placed lollipops can be a lifesaver on the road!
2) There is no such thing as “making good time” when you are with kids (that is directed mainly at you, dads!). Build in time for breaks!
3) I know this is a tough one, but you really shouldn’t feed your kids while the car is moving. Choking is a real danger, so make stopping to eat part of the adventure.
4) When faced with the question, “How much longer?” try to quantify time in terms of your kid’s favorite TV show, as it will make more sense and likely satisfy the question.
5) Buy mini gifts and wrap them well. Have your wee one open them throughout the trip. I love stickers, books, UNO cards (you can adapt the rules for many ages), lollipops, connect-the-dot mini books, and crayons. I also love the BuckleyBoo BuckleyMonkey to keep young toddlers occupied for quite a stretch. For older travelers, the Crayola Color Wonder Travel Tote is perfect.
6) Try to book flights during nap times and if there is ever the opportunity for a red-eye, take it! Get the kids in PJs before the flight and explain that it’s “lights out” as soon as you take off. Nothing like the hum of the engine to help kids sleep.
7) As well as packing extra clothes for your kids, remember kids can also vomit on you (oh yeah, I’ve been there), so always keep an extra shirt for yourself somewhere handy.
8) Take as much nutritionally-rich, self-contained food as possible. Luna bars are amazing as they are extremely tasty, seem like a treat, and not messy. There’s nothing worse than being at the whim of gas station or airport food!
9) Know your rights! If you are traveling with children, you can take liquids to drink past airport security so you don’t have to spend so much money on water or juice. Just mention you have kids and security will run special tests on the liquids. I was one happy mommy when I figured this out!
- Layers are key. Even those of us not suffering from hormone-induced temperature fluctuations can get a bit batty going back and forth between locations that are too hot and stuffy to over-air conditioned drafty ones. Keep a light sweater nearby and you will be able to address any temperature situation.
- Keep snacks on hand. Even if you think you are just going to be away from a food source for an hour or so, it’s always a good idea to have several healthy snacks and water on hand. I’ve heard horror stories of meltdowns from poor women stuck on the tarmac with no food for way too long.
- Know your doctor’s number. Always have your OB’s number handy in case something comes up. Even if you just have a quick question, you don’t want to have to dig around for his or her info.
Products to Help:
Skip Hop Zoo Pack Little Kid Backpack -Letting little kids collect treasures from their travel adventures (plane tickets, hotel soaps, room keys etc.) is a great way for them to enjoy things even more. Kick off the trip with the gift of a great backpack like this one and let the adventure begin.
GoGo Babyz Kids Travelmate Car Seat -This miracle device allows you to roll your child’s carseat just as you would luggage – turning a cumbersome carryon into a working stroller! Such a lifesaver.
Munchkin 2 Pack Fresh Food Feeders -Teething doesn’t stop because you’re on the road, and being away from home sometimes makes it worse for my kids. These are great for soothing gums using cold fruits and vegetables wherever you are.
Edushape Edu-Tiles 36 Piece 6x6ft Play Mat, Letters & Numbers Set -Don’t be afraid to send ahead and if Grandma likes stone floors try these foam tiles for safety and fun. All ages love piecing together the numbers, letters, and colors. Believe me when I say I abandoned carpeting for a while and used these in every room in my house–my husband had to have an intervention!
The First Years Take and Toss 28-Piece Feeding Variety Pack -Simple and effective, the sippy cups are always a breeze for the kids to use and my little secret. While they may be “take and toss,” I don’t toss–I wash!