Do you want to go on vacation, but need somewhere family friendly? Do you dread traveling with your children because of the inevitable headaches? Don’t put off travel altogether. Traveling with children is very doable, and can even be enjoyable if you make ample preparations. With a little planning ahead for their specific travel needs, children can be great travel companions and partners.
Method 1 Method 1 of 4:Planning the Trip
Research destinations. Find out how long it will take to get there, and the optimal route. If it is only a few hours, a car ride may be your best bet. If longer than a few hours, deciding between a road trip and air travel is critical. If it will be a road trip, find a route that has interesting landmarks, scenery, and places to take breaks.
- Look up family-friendly attractions near your destination. Museums and great scenery likely won’t keep their attention. Plan a visit to a popular attractions like an amusement park as part of the overall itinerary.
- Pre-plan your pit stops to coincide with your children’s needs. Plan out pit stops that work for your schedule, such as for meal times, diaper changes, and naps. Select convenient stopping points, like restaurants with play places.
- Make a list of odd, roadside attractions like the largest bottle of ketchup or a basketball-painted water tower.
- Look for large truck stops or travel stops where there is plenty of room to walk around, lots of snacks to peruse through, and maybe even a trinket or toy that might draw attention.
Add timeline buffers for breaks and acclimation. If you’ve already established that the travel window is minimal without issues, be sure to add in time for extra pit stops, multiple bathroom breaks, and time for them to adjust to new time zones. When returning home, build in an extra day so they don’t have to get back to school the day after getting home.
- When possible, try to find flights with longer layovers, layovers in new locations, and seats on the plane near the bathrooms.
Make reservations with appropriate accommodations. Make sure to book a room that is large enough to accommodate everyone. Ensure you have enough beds, parking spots, places to store valuables, a mini fridge, and any supplementary needs (e.g. iron, hair dryer, extra hangers).
- Ask for your extras when making reservations. It may be difficult to accommodate on the day of arrival.
- There are particular rules for plane travel with children. Research the seat restrictions and the items you are permitted to ship for free before finalizing your itinerary.
- When you check in, some locations have unlisted extras like toys, treats, and various kid items. Be sure to ask for whatever extras you can. Hotels are eager to please and retain guests by providing everything possible.
Build some adult time into the schedule. However possible, whether it’s looking up care providers in the area, or simply taking turns, ensure you include time for some adult relaxation. If everything is about the kids, and there are no breaks provided, the minimal issues will soon be aggravating enough to irritate and anger.
- Be sure to find reputable babysitters available at your destination.
- Schedule a couples massage while the kids are away.
- Go somewhere like a bar or a casino where the minors are not permitted.
- Find a 4-star restaurant and have a relaxing dinner.
Method 2 Method 2 of 4:Entertaining the Kids
Bring a media device. The options are nearly limitless, with smartphones, phablets, tablets, and laptops from many vendors. Keep in mind there are kid-friendly options like the VTech Innotab, LeapFrog Epic, and Fuhu Nabi. While this is a concern for some psychologists, there are plenty of apps developed specifically for children.
- If you lend your personal smartphone to your child, remember to turn on child-friendly settings like the “Guided Access” on the iPhone.
- Remember the headphones. The last thing you, or others around you, want to hear is a game droning the same tune over and over.
Pack a coloring kit. Whether it’s crayons, pencils, or markers, bringing something to draw or color is a great way for your kids to spend time. It’s also something to keep them quiet and engaged in a creative outlet.
- If you have more than one child, be sure to pack duplicates of everything. Every parent knows the pain of when both kids want the exact same crayon.
- Build an interesting magnetic coloring kit with magnetic tape, super glue, and a cookie sheet to keep the mess to a minimum.
Stuff toys in their travel bags. Bring a few of their favorites for variety. Large figurines, big foam blocks, and dolls are perfect for little hands. The key is to find something that will occupy their mind for longer than a few minutes and will keep them interested. Try to avoid the small pieces, and things that can be easily dropped in small car crevices.
- If you’re planning on air travel, be sure the toys aren’t too cumbersome to be carried and stored on an airplane.
- If the toys make noise, be considerate and only bring toys that have lower volume settings.
Give them responsibilities. Kids love to be responsible or in charge of things like adults. While traveling it’s a fun pastime to involve them in the travel, the sight-seeing, and maybe even the timetable of the trip. Ask them to keep track of a specific portion of the directions, maybe a city, landmark, or road to take.
- When mealtime nears, ask them to picture their favorite meal and help pick out the location to eat.
Method 3 Method 3 of 4:Providing Nourishment
Relax nutrition standards. While at home it may be easy to provide the perfectly balanced dietary requirements, but on the road it’s not as simple. They’ll see easily recognizable fast-food locations along the road, or there just won’t be the foods you would like to provide. Let them enjoy the trip. You can return to routine when the trip is finished.
Bring plenty of snacks. Kids will be distracted during travel. The mundane observations of daily life, like a plane departing, often provide wonder to little eyes and minds. Getting them to eat normal meals will be difficult, and cries of hunger quickly become irritating. Pack a variety of items (e.g. carrot sticks, pretzels, granola bars, raisins) in plastic bags to ensure you have options.
- Be sure to pack a water bottle and remind your kiddos to take a drink frequently.
- Be careful with sticky or messy items that can cause a mess. While traveling, it’s more difficult to keep a keen eye on little ones while eating.
- If traveling by air, avoid snacks with liquids that may cause security issues.
- Don’t pack items that have strong smells. Be considerate of fellow travelers.
Bribe children with food when necessary. There are countless recommendations for travel with children because it’s an often trying, difficult, infuriating experience. Bring bribery material like a few pieces of candy.
- Bring gum if taking a flight. If your kids are old enough to handle it without making a mess, it’s a treat that may help clear painful Eustachian tube blockages.
Method 4 Method 4 of 4:Keeping the Kids Clean and Healthy
Bring backups of every possible clothing item. Kids get wet, dirty, and tired of their clothes. Sometimes the shoes they have aren’t the best for the activities of the day. At the very minimum you should have an extra set of clothing for each child at all times. The younger the child, the more likely they will have accidents or messes.
- Multiple diapers are absolutely mandatory for those still potty-training. Bring as many as you think you’ll need, then pack a few more.
Include a way to clean the kids on the go. Pack travel tissues, some emergency toilet paper, and a multi-purpose, versatile wipe that is safe for hands, faces, as well as after diaper cleanup. Towels and paper towels should be kept around to soak up potential spills and messes.
Prepare for potential travel sicknesses. Kids are prone to travel sickness because they often aren’t accustomed to the differences between the vision and the inner ear. Have them travel with a small amount of bland food in their stomachs, look at stationary objects, and get fresh air whenever possible. Apply a cold cloth to their head as soon as they start experiencing issues.
- Don’t forget to pick up appropriate doses of Dramamine or Bonine.
- An extra sturdy bag is a great idea for kids prone to motion or air sickness. The bags provided by the airline don’t handle large amounts of liquid very well.
- When traveling outside the country, be wary of local produce and water.
Pack all important and supplementary medication. Traveling itself carries a potential for sickness because of new germs and allergens. Prescription medications are an absolute must. Consider children-specific medication like lower dosage, over-the-counter acetaminophen for the occasional fever or runny nose. Add in a few kids’ vitamins to keep their bodies healthy while traveling.
- Have an emergency plan and medical location in case your child gets ill while in your travel destination.
- Research vaccination considerations for international travel.
- Pack children-specific sunscreen suited to the expected location and exposure to sun.
- A travel bottle of hand sanitizer can work wonders when curious hands start touching every foreign surface possible.
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- Make sure to schedule your trips to attractions around nap time and mealtimes. No one is happy when they are tired and hungry! Thanks! Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- Some children’s toys may not be allowed on planes. Be sure to look up what is allowed and what isn’t before traveling. Thanks! Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0