Some people will scream just at the thought of traveling with children; but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare! With a little extra thought and planning, traveling with kids can be a fun and rewarding experience. Keep reading for a few tips to make the trip fun for the whole family.
- Plan & Prepare: A few days (or weeks) before the trip, take a little extra time to think about all of the logistics of the trip and plan accordingly for the children traveling with you. For example, if you will be flying with an infant you may need to be prepared to have a stroller with you in the airport. You can check the stroller at the gate, so that you can keep it with you until you board the plane. You will also need to be prepared for feedings. You will need to either travel with a car seat or make arrangements to have one once you land at your destination. You will also need to be prepared to have a diaper bag go through TSA screenings. If you have a baby that eats formula, please check the TSA requirements for baby formula and bottles, and pack the diaper bag accordingly. This is very important to check the rules and follow closely! You don’t want to rush this step and end up having formula thrown away at the security checkpoint just because you didn’t take the time to read the guidelines. If traveling by car on a long trip, have snacks, games, tablets, movies, etc. within reach for the kids. Be sure to pack any battery chargers that may be needed for devices. This will help keep them entertained and less likely to be fussy in the car.
- Think like a kid: During the trip and once you arrive at your destination, try and experience as many things as possible that will be fun and exciting for the child. In many cities there are museums with free admission, this is a great way for the child to have fun and learn at the same time. If weather is permitting, visit a park! This would be a free activity, and would allow the child to run off some energy at the same time. This would be a great idea if on a road trip. You could also try and schedule the park around lunch time and enjoy a family picnic. Try and plan meals at places that are kid friendly. This does not mean you need to eat at McDonald’s for every meal, but don’t make reservations at a 5-star restaurant with a strict dress code and take a 3-year old. Choose family friendly restaurants so that if the child gets a little loud or cranky, you will not be irritating the other diners nearby.
- Teach: Kids are like sponges. They are so curious and just want to soak up every bit of information. Use this to your advantage! If you are flying, find out what particular aircraft you will be flying on and find some information about it. Once you board the plane you can start telling the child all about the plane. If driving, play games that will get your child looking out the window at the surroundings. Car Bingo is my favorite! You can bring a few small prizes for each winning game of Bingo. If traveling through multiple states, you can teach about each state (state flag, state bird, state song, famous people from the state, famous landmarks in that state). You could even make coloring pages before the trip that feature some of the popular things of each state. If there are famous landmarks on the route of your trip, try and make time to stop and visit them. Before you begin the trip, check out the Convention and Visitors Board (or travel advisory board) website for the cities you will be visiting. They will likely have a calendar of events listed on their website. It will include places of interest, restaurants, lodging, etc. These websites are a great tool to use in your planning. There may be a really cool event taking place during your visit that your family would really enjoy!
- Have fun: I understand that not all trips are for fun and recreation, however if you can make the actual travel time fun then this will set the tone for the remainder of the trip. Make a playlist of your child’s favorite songs, sing along with them and be silly. Think of games to play in the car. Let the child choose a restaurant. Teach the child how to use a map and let them be the Official Navigator of the trip. If you can make the child feel engaged and have a purpose during the travel time, it will generally keep them happier. Just try and remember what it was like when you were a kid. Car rides seem to take FOREVER as children, especially if the destination is somewhere that has the kid really excited. Try and be patient and understanding when they have asked “are we there yet?” for the 15th time and you are not even out of the county!
There are so many options for making traveling with kids easier, you just have to put a little thought and effort into it. Pinterest is a great resource for finding tips and ideas on traveling with kids. By taking a small amount of time before the trip to plan, you can save yourself a big headache when it is time to actually travel! Just remember to have fun and enjoy making those precious memories with your kids! Keep traveling, my friends!