Family vacations are meant to be fun, but the slogan “getting there is half the fun,” does not always ring true when you’re traveling with kids. No parent wants to suffer and struggle to wrangle stir-crazy kiddos into seat belts for hours on end.
I’ve got you covered for the next time you’re traveling with children, whether in a plane or a car. By keeping your kids happy throughout the long periods of traveling, you’ll keep your stress levels down and make your vacation a success!
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General Tips for Traveling with Children
- Provide distractions to help pass the time. Time goes so much slower when you’re a child stuck in a small place. Whether you and your child prefer fancy technology like a tablet or iPad or classics like a coloring book, make sure you have things your child can use to distract themselves. Pack toys and games, or bring TV shows or movies or a book to give your child something to do.
- Keep a travel journal. Not only will this allow for memories to be captured, it will give the child something to do and look forward to.
- Take lots of pictures, and give a disposable camera to the kids to get a different perspective on the trip. It will also engage the children and reduce boredom.
Tips for Flying with Children
- Explain what will happen during security. Even doing a practice run through can help make your child feel less nervous about the process.
- Budget for extra time. Things happen — meltdowns, bathroom breaks, you name it. Reduce stress by leaving extra wiggle room before you need to board the plane.
- Children under 12 can keep their shoes on.
- Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are exempt from the 3.4 ounce rule, but you should tell the TSA officer about it prior to the screening for additional screening.
- If your child is bringing a backpack, ask what they want, but pack it for them.
- When I was a kid I went through the security line and set off the metal detector. Did I have change in my pockets? Nope. Toy cars. My parents were baffled with how many cars I managed to fit in my pockets as I pulled them out by the handful and put them in the bucket. The moral of this story is not to assume that your children will pack what they might actually need for the trip, but that they’ll bring a lot of unnecessary things that will take up space and add extra weight instead.
- Bring snacks and an empty water bottle. Airport food can be expensive, so bring your child’s favorite snacks. Bottles of water aren’t allowed past security, so bring an empty one and fill it up in a water fountain. Keeping your child from getting hungry or thirsty will help them stay comfortable, making for an easier trip.
- Bring gum to chew during take-off. The change is pressure can be harder for children to handle, and gum will help prevent ear popping. Explain this to your kids to help prevent the unexpected discomfort.
Tips for Road Trips with Children
- Plan stops along the way that are more than just reststops. Break the long time in the car up with things to do and see along the way. It acts as a mental refresher and can keep boredom away.
- Go to the bathroom at every stop, even if your child insists that they don’t have to go.
- Pack snacks and drinks to reduce the number or stops and keep the comfort level higher.
- Play games to pass the time. Instead of listening to your kids asking “are we there yet?” over and over, get them actively engaged with a variety of games. I-Spy is a favorite of mine, but there are many more out there.
Do you have any stories or tips you want to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!