Top Tips for Traveling with Your Kids
Traveling is one of my passions. I have been to many places and learned so much about different cultures and myself while exploring these countries. This passion is something I love to share with others. My husband and I have traveled together and wanted to make sure that we shared this love of exploration with our kids. Traveling with kids you say....you must be crazy!!! Many people have been in awe of how many trips we have taken our kids on...but the more you do it the easier it gets! The first airplane ride we did with a child was when Ben was 3 weeks old...this was by far the easiest of them all! He was so little and his food was on demand, via me, so there wasn't too much to worry about in the grand scheme of traveling with children. We have learned a lot along the way and have a system that works well to ease the stress of traveling with kids. As the holiday's approach I am sure some of you are going to be visiting family which will probably include some type of travel. This year we are headed out on our annual Christmas trip to my parents house. This trip has happened every year since I was pregnant the first time and never includes my husband. His job keeps him extremely busy at Christmas time so the kids and I head out on our own. As I prepare for this trip I thought I would share with you my tips and tricks to help make our travel less stressful...and hopefully you can use a few, or all of them, to relieve some of the stress on your trips.
1. Less is More
This may sound counterintuitive to what you learned about kids but believe me the less "stuff" you have, the less you have to worry about losing. Depending on where you are going, you may be able to have many kids things there. Are you going to your parents house? We have a pack and play at my parents house along with toys, books and extra items likes cups and bowls. This way we don't have to pack these things with us and the kids love that they have special things there. Are you traveling to a hotel? Most hotels have cribs you can borrow for free. They are also really great with providing information for you as to how you might be able to borrow some of the items you think you will need, such as a stroller, high chair and even a car seat.
Less is also more at the airport and in the car. Take the time to plan out what you are packing for the kids on the plane and in the car. This way you know what you pack will actually get played with. We always include a book that is a find and seek book (like Where's Waldo) because it has tons of pictures all in one book. I also love to pack a brand new dollar store toy; this will keep their interest longer since it is new! We also pack the Ipads...if there is one place for an Ipad treat it is while you are on a plane or in the car. We not only have shows downloaded for them to watch but I also love to include both educational games and fun games. Check out Starfall for your new readers or Duolingo for your older kids to have some fun learning a new language! Remember the airport itself can be a very entertaining place. Our kids often just want to hang at the window and watch going ons outside on the tarmac.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Every single time I have travelled with the kids with or without my husband people always offer to help...let them. People have offered everything from carrying a bag for us to a whole bus of people helping the kids and I get from the parking lot to the check in desk. I have also had numerous flight attendants take my kids for walks...I mean where are they going to go...we are on a plane! If it allows you to take a breath or just make it from one place to another, let them help. You will be pleasantly surprised with how wonderful people really are.
3. Snacks, Snacks and more Snacks
This is one place where less is not more! Traveling can often have us eating out a lot. Both airports and highway rest stops don't often have the most healthy options. Take the time to preplan your car and airport snacks and you will make life much less stressful. We always pack fruit that doesn't need to be cold like grapes, apples and blueberries. We also love trail mix, nuts, and crackers. Anything that is going to be a slow burn in everyones tummy is always a hit. Being prepared will ensure that you are not stuck with hangry children.
4. Your mindset matters
If you are dreading traveling with your kids and have already made up that it is going to be the worst experience...you have doomed yourself from the beginning. Give your kids the benefit of the doubt...they feel your energy and if you have a positive outlook on the travel experience they will feel that too. I know that it is not always rainbows and unicorns when traveling with kids. We have had our fair share of meltdowns too, but not because we have anticipated one happening. Being prepared helps. Set yourself and your kids up for success and the travel experience will be much more pleasant. Just like when you go into a job interview, if you are prepared and ready for the interview you will probably do much better than if you just tried to wing it. Don't try to wing it when traveling with kids!
5. Do what you need to do
You know your kids and your family best. Is it time for a break in the car? Will that put you late for dinner at your parents house? Sorry Mom and Dad we are going to be late. Trying to stick to someone else's expectations can add unneeded stress to everyone. This also goes for other airplane travelers...who cares if your kid is crying or making noise...they have the same right to be on that airplane as everyone else. Plus this is 2018 and noise cancelling headphones are very affordable :) The more tense and stressed you get about your kids making noise the more noise they are going to make. Do what you feel is best for your kids and don't let what others think affect you...are you really going to see any of those people on that plane ever again?
I hope that you have gained some tips and tricks for traveling with your kids and that the next time you are on a trip it goes a little bit smoother than the last time!