Traveling with children can be intimidating at best. Whether you are flying solo, or taking a train with family, or traveling with friends to the beach how do you travel with children and not get overstressed? This was a question I always asked myself the day before traveling… which is error NUMBER ONE!
A month to a week before your trip, note things your children enjoy doing. If they are older and you plan to use a tablet, list the movies they enjoy watching and games they like to play. Make sure these are downloaded to the tablet and accessible about two days before leaving.
If your children are younger, or if you plan on having activities to entertaining them, you need to focus on what they like doing. Try to recreate these activities in cheaper versions that you won’t mind losing if they get lost during the trip. I’m not suggesting becoming a Pinterest parent, but if they like to sort, you can pack pom poms which are light, easy to replace, and colorful, along with an egg carton to sort into. The pom poms can also be used for counting or even crafting while on the trip. Join us for our Traveling with Children Class if you need some ideas and help creating activities. We will show you how to make each of the five Make and Take activities age appropriate, and you will leave the class with five projects that you have made! We will also discuss other activities you can create if you feel you need more ideas of things to do.
Spending less time planning and searching out activities means less stress before the trip!
Things to bring
When traveling it’s always good to bring a bag so that your essentials are easy to get to. If you are traveling in the car have a bag with diapers, full change of clothes for the child and the adult, bottle of water, snacks, extra cash, charger cord and/or external battery for your phone, emergency documents and your itinerary easy to grab if you are in a rush. This way whether you have a blow out diaper that you must attend to quickly or have to leave the car for a while, you will be sure to have everything you need right there with you. These are just a few of the things I have found useful. Please feel free to comment with more!
Things to do
Have new toys (or new again) available for your child to play with on the trip. A month before you leave go ahead and pack some toys you know your child loves, but that can be missed for a month to become new again, and if they get lost forever won’t be a devastating disaster. Being able to pull out a new again toy when you get to your destination or while traveling itself will help keep them occupied.
Travel by Plane
For the airport I highly recommend babywearing if possible. A carrier that is easy for you to use and that doesn’t have metal is the best. You will not be able to wear during take off and landing, but if baby falls asleep upon take off, have the carrier attached around your waist ready to support sleeping baby. This will keep your hands free to hold your drink in one hand, your phone in the other and lean back and relax.
When traveling by train, get a seat for your little one next to you, then lean their seat back and flip up the footrest creating a small play space for them. Go for walks up and down the aisle when they get restless, or create a quiet snuggly space for them with a blanket to rest and relax in. For older children, you can create a bingo game of things to see while flying along the tracks. The website thetripclip.com is a great resource for creating these games.
When traveling by car you can take extras with you for things to do that you may not have room for when traveling other ways. We take a couple of bags that zip closed or cubbies of toys the children can play with in the car. About three years ago my daughter spilled water on her tablet and we have not replaced it, so on our trips to see their great uncle near Corpus Christi (about 4 hours away) my kids use their imagination and play! It was a scary first trip without the electronics, but it went amazingly well. Each little one was allowed a small pillow, a stuffed animal, and a blanket. Then we took a magnetic drawing board, a toy cubbie of Legos that was kept on the seat between them, and a few books. Even before they could read, they would make up their own stories, use the stuffed animal and pillows and blankets to act out play and build towers for hours in the back seat. Also, we always start the trip with food, and they have a bottle of water they can reach if they need it. For smaller kids be prepared to stop numerous times. Think about your normal day and how often you change from one activity to the next. For example, you feed, change diaper, play, feed, change and then sleep. How much time does each take? This will likely be the same while traveling though baby may sleep a little longer from the white noise of the car.
Things to Know
Talk to your travel company before leaving to find out any specific items they require or do not allow.
Are there any extra items you would pack in the “go bag”? Comment them or any other travel ideas below to help others prepare for their travel.