How to Travel with Kids
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Traveling with children is assumed to be nightmarish; however, it might even be fun if you set out with the right expectations. Children aren't little adults; they're their own special breed who have very different needs than adults. You'll need to be prepared for almost every eventuality and plan to take more time that you would otherwise need without kids. Traveling as a family can create awesome memories that will last a lifetime. Don't be afraid of traveling with children. You should feel free to visit family and take vacations. It'll bring you closer as a family and hopefully you can make even more memories with them as they grow older.
We're here to help you with some tips and tricks to make your trip a little easier. Hopefully, you won't be subjected to continuous choruses of "are we there yet?" and "I'm bored." Instead, we're aiming for a fun and relaxing family holiday that will only make your familial bonds stronger. Make happy memories with your family that will last a lifetime!
Love getting crafty with your kids but don't love the mess? Check out our article of helpful tips and tricks to stay clean: Crafting with Kids: 5 Tips to Keep Messy Projects Clean
Traveling with Kids
Tips to Make Traveling with Children Easier
Take your time. It'll be easier for you and your children to travel smoothly if you give yourself extra time to forget things, make potty stops, and to stop and look at all of the new things they've never seen before. Extra time is especially important if you have to make diaper changes or if other clean up is required. You'll thank yourself later for the extra hour or two.
Pack a small First Aid kit in your diaper bag, purse, or anywhere else it's easily reachable. It doesn't have to be a big kit, but having some of the essentials could prove useful when you least expect it. Essentials like hand sanitzer or antibacterial wipes (because kids touch everything and then put their hands in their mouth...or your mouth), a thermometer, band-aids, and some medicines that will treat fevers or headaches.
Keep an extra set of clothes out of their luggage. When spills or bodily fluids inevitably find their way onto your child's shirt, you don't want to go digging through the luggage. Keep an extra set where you can reach them easily and usher them into the bathroom for a quick change. It'd be clever to have a plastic freezer bag on hand also to keep the soiled clothing from getting everything else dirty.
Put them in charge of a backpack. Kids love to be in charge and feel "responsible" for something like the adults. This will keep them engaged in the process and hopefully, you will have one less thing to carry. The bag shouldn't be too heavy for them because then you will end up carrying it. Put their extra set of clothes in there and a toy or two.
Traveling on Planes with Children is Tortuous...Until Now.
Everyone has been on a plane with a screaming baby and in between being annoyed at the noise and asking for ear plugs, we forget to feel sorry for the parent who has to deal with that screaming child. We should remember that traveling is stressful enough, but throw a child or three into the mix and you've got yourself a cocktail for a terrible time. We're here to make your and your fellow passengers' lives just a little bit easier with these traveling with kids tips.
Schedule flights for naptime. If your kids still nap or get sleepy at certain times of the day, try and schedule your flight for that period of time. Hopefully, you'll get lucky and your kids will drop to sleep as soon as you start cruising at 30,000 feet.
If they don't normally nap every day, schedule your flight for the afternoon and wear them out in the morning with outdoor, physical play in the sun. Get them good and tired before they have to sit for several hours in a cramped space.
If they won't sleep, then give them these Airplane Doodle Books!
Fly nonstop. Dragging your kids, baggage, and sanity around during flight connections is just not healthy. Try your best to find nonstop flights so that you don't have to get off and on planes too many times with your kids. Even with priority boarding, you don't want to do that more times that you have to.
If possible, sit near the back of the plane. You'll be closer to the bathrooms and less likely to bother other passengers. You'll probably have to wait for the stroller before you can disembark anyway. Also, if you're at the back of the plane, you can possibly have more help from the flight attendants and more room for storage.
During takeoffs and landings, the change in air pressure can make adult ears feel like something sharp is in their ears. Imagine how it feels when you're a baby or small child that doesn't know what's happening!
Offer your children milk or juice to relieve the inner ear pressure. Gum works too, but for little children, it's not the best idea. Gummy worms or bears are a great alternative to chewing gum.
Consider getting duplicates of the thing your child cannot live without. I'm not talking about formula or other required sustenance. I'm talking about their pacifier or nappy. If they take it everywhere and you know that they will cry forever if it's lost, then get an extra. You do not want to get off the plane in another place and realize that you left their favorite blankie in some unreachable and faraway place.
If you're able, send the heavy baggage ahead of time. If you can mail or otherwise transfer your bulky luggage ahead of your arrival, your traveling might be easier. You'll only need the absolute essentials and the extras that will make your traveling easier like an extra change of clothes and wet wipes.
Download kid-friendly apps. Even if you try to normally limit screen time for your kids, games for kids or even children's books on your phone or tablet will make your life exponentially easier. Instead of lugging around their toys, you can pull out the technology you were planning on bringing anyway and let them play. Bonus points if you find educational games!
How to Make Road Trips with Kids a Joyful Experience
Despite our helpful tips, you just don't want to fly with your kids. That's fine - you can drive. Your kids will still have to sit in a cramped space for long periods of time, but the only people they'll bother are their parents (you). We're here to make traveling with your kids easier with some helpful tricks.
Engage them in the process. If they know their alphabet, play the alphabet game. Look for letters on signs, license plates, the sides of trucks, etc. Encouraging them to look out the windows for "I Spy" will make the time go faster for them.
This is also an opportune time for learning activities! You're driving on the highway, so you're likely to see a lot of different license plates. Teach your kids different state capitals and ask them to name them when you see the state's license plate. You can also teach them about fun historic facts about where you are at any given moment (this is the beauty of smartphones - information at your fingertips). Your children will think that you know everything and they'll be learning at the same time!
A simple and free way to keep them engaged is our Road Trip Bingo Free Printable!
Plan for frequent potty stops. If your kids aren't used to sitting still for long periods of time, then a long car ride is going to be hard on them. If you pull over for the bathroom every time they cry, then they'll notice and think that they have to make a fuss to get you to pull over. Make stops before they get fussy and you won't have this problem. Yes, your drive will be longer than it would be if you weren't driving with young kids; however, it'll be easier on you and everyone else to travel and arrive with comfortable kids.
Bring snacks. The car might explode if everyone is testy due to low blood sugar. Have a bunch of snacks on hand, preferably healthy ones, so you and the kids don't get "hangry" (hungry and angry). If you load up on sugary snacks, you'll get a kid on a sugar high in a confined space, which is a red flag for road trip disaster.
To create the illusion of a sweet treat, give them fruit snacks without a lot of added sugar. Here is a DIY Edible Necklace that might come in handy!
Bring the books on tape. They're a great way to entertain everyone in the car, especially if you bring books the entire family will enjoy like The Chronicles of Narnia or the Harry Potter series. Maybe even the reader's voice will lull your child to sleep and you can have some quiet time in the car.
You can keep their hands busy with some book-related crafts and activities!
Tire them out at rest stops. Spend a little extra time at the rest stops and let them run around on the playground if there is one. You can also bring jump ropes and balls so that they can have a quick play time and hopefully tire themselves out before getting back in the car.
Can't stand the messy playroom? Check out our article: Organization Tips for the Playroom
What's your advice for traveling with kids?
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