How are you doing? I have been lacking in the travel post area and I promise I will do better. Today I am sharing a post that’s been in the making for a while now. Lets face it, one of the most unpredictable experiences you will ever face, is when you decide to go on vacation with your children. You never truly know whats going to happen but with my simple rules, you are better equipped to handle any curves thrown your way.
I have been traveling with my children since they were babies and we have traveled to quite a few cities around the world in airplanes and long car rides. I am currently not a luxury traveler so this post is as real as it gets, I am listing things that have worked for me and things that are simply a waste of time. I know some parents avoid travel with their kids altogether and would rather wait till kids can fend for themselves or “will remember” but I beg to differ. I love that they have been a part of some of my travel experiences and they are better travelers because of their experience.
Ensure that everyone gets a good night’s rest the night before you travel
Notice how I said “everyone” and not just the kids. If you are traveling by road especially it is vital for safety reasons alone. When traveling by air, don’t kid yourself and make plans to sleep “on the flight” it isn’t guaranteed(the tiny humans in your company, might not be the culprit.) Kids need their rest, don’t “keep them up” just so they sleep longer in the car or on the plane. It sometimes makes them restless/cranky and harder to manage because there has been a change in their schedule and we all know kids love structure.
Dress them comfortably and pack extra clothing
I am that parent whose kids are in Pj’s and socks on the flight (usually on a long haul flights.) It is not a fashion show nor are they attending a party so skip over clothing items you know aren’t comfortable just because they are fashionable. If they have accidents and we all know kids do, its not on their newly purchased outfit. Another thing to keep in mind is that before you arrive at your destination, whether flying or by road, you can always change an hour or close to your arrival time. Rest stops are fantastic for this, if traveling by road. Always have extra clothing items(not just one) and don’t limit them to clothes but shoes too, especially when dealing with toddlers who are more prone to accidents.
Have a travel checklist of everything needed for your vacation
I always have one prepared weeks or days before my travel date and I start working on it early. This ensures that I stay organized and prevents me from forgetting important items (extra diaper, food, etc.) Don’t forget this list should include things such as making a doctor’s appointment for shots. Having a list is great but working on your list early enough makes a world of difference and please don’t ever travel without your first aid kit.
Carry along their favorite foods (familiar treats)
Traveling isn’t the right time to start your kids on a new eating plan, please stick to what already works. Pack their meals especially if you are dealing with a picky eater. We all know commercial travel isn’t as glamorous as it used to be so don’t expect the food on the plane to be that great. Pack all their favs from juice boxes ( yes TSA will allow you take them on your flight) to fruits. Traveling by road shouldn’t change their food choices either, don’t load them up on sugar or items you think would make them better behaved, it might have the opposite effect.
Bring your own entertainment (educative items included)
Please take along with you all forms of entertainment that’s portable and your kids love. Carry extra batteries and don’t forget your charger. Don’t limit these items to tablets but also include their favorite storybook, activity books, educative games and books. I am that parent who has kumon homework on a flight (covers face, lol) In flight service on long haul flights are pretty good but it never hurts to be prepared. When on road trips, the rules still apply and please have options for each kid, you don’t want them fighting for the tablet or what movie to watch. They can take turns and be occupied with different activities.
Relax, you are not home, home rules won’t always apply
This is my number one rule when traveling with kids, you are not home, so home rules won’t work in all situations. I am not advocating throwing all your rules out of the window but asking that you are more flexible. There is no”naughty corner” on the plane and taking away a favorite toy as a form of disciple might have the opposite effect. Between me and my husband, I am the stricter parent but once we leave the house and are on a flight or traveling by road, I relax my rules on purpose. No, I don’t allow my kids run around the plane or tolerate being unnecessarily loud, please don’t be that parent who does that, lol. What I am saying is be reasonable, they are as anxious as you are and can’t wait to get to your travel destination.
Make friends with the flight crew
This makes a world of difference people! Don’t sleep on this, another reason to arrive early. Introduce yourself, ask to meet the pilot (kids love this.) You would be surprise how much of a difference this makes especially on a long-haul flight. They are more likely to look out for you and ensure that you and your children have a better flight experience.
Be on time
When traveling with kids, it is important that you get to your point of departure on time especially when traveling by air. Yes, TSA allows you on the shorter line when you have a stroller (so if you don’t like traveling with one, that’s one reason to try it, stick to lightweight travel strollers though.) Remember the airport or train station can be unpredictable, so arrive early, so you can settle down early. They allow you on the plane early, so be there, to take advantage of this perk. When traveling by road, avoid traveling during high traffic times of the day if you can, kids get restless in traffic.
Take advantage of hotel perks
Before booking your next vacation look out for kid friendly hotels. Hotels that have specific activities for kids. This is common practice in the hospitality business especially in resorts, so take advantage of kids clubs, in-house baby sitting service, game rooms/nurseries, etc. This can be your opportunity to unwind and enjoy some alone time. Isn’t that what vacations are all about in the first place? So pay a little extra if you have to, for your sanity:-)
Never leave the house without their favorite item
Please don’t travel without their favorite stuffed animal or favorite pillow. Having that item that reminds them of home makes traveling less anxious and more relaxing for you and for them.
While kids carry-ons are nice and cute, buy it when they your kids are able to use them independently or you will be the one hauling it through the airport. Backpacks are fantastic for preschoolers and young kids. Just like your kids, don’t be overly dressed for your flight or road trip, your clothing might be a victim of their spill accidents, lol. I always keep it simple in a tank and leggings when I travel with my kids. Remember its all about building lasting memories, so relax and enjoy the experience.