With lots of holiday time coming up, the kids’ school schedules are opening up and that means time and opportunity for doing some serious traveling beyond the old weekend warrior thing. Whether that means a trip to grandma’s halfway across the country or a family vacation, traveling with kids always comes with both challenges and rewards.
Here are 4 quick tips and ideas to help minimize or mitigate the challenges and help maximize the rewards of traveling with your kids.
Give yourself Extra Time
If you think you’re going to get your toddler to care about the fact that your flight departs in 20 min and you have a 15 minute commute to the gate, think again. There will be “emergency I have to go NOW” potty stops, tantrums, slow taking off and putting on of shoes, and more that you can’t even begin to guess or prepare for ahead of time, let alone in the middle of an essential time crunch. Give yourself way, way, way more time than you need, for everything from catching planes and trains to sightseeing. Trust us, you’ll need it.
Regardless of whether your digs for the night are a campground or five-star hotel, book ahead. When you and your toddler are exhausted after a long day, you don’t want to be figuring out where to rest your heads for the night.
Be prepared for illness with reliable fixes
Between exhaustion, new foods, new germs and bacteria than they’ve been exposed to before, or the gifts that never stop giving from other travelers who sneeze on planes or buses then touch everything your toddler is touching, there’s a good chance your little one could come down with a bug while you’re away. If they have a certain kind of medicine flavor they can tolerate for colds or treatments that you know work for ailments they may get or be prone to, be sure to bring it. It may not be easy or even possible to find away from home, and when they’re in the middle of a tantrum because they’re not feeling good, it’s not a good time to have to be going to search for something they can or will take.
Build positive anticipation
Sometimes travel (mostly air travel) can be scary for little ones, especially if they’re old enough to realize they’re going up in the sky and that that’s not where people usually belong. You can allay their fears and make it a positive, exciting experience for them by helping them build good, happy thoughts and excitement for the journey. Before your journey, start pointing out planes in the sky with enthusiastic “ooohs” and “look at that!” and “that’s an AIRPLANE! We’re going to get to go on one of those soon!” sort of exclamations. You may also give them a toy plane to play with and show them how it flies around with his or her hand, or maybe a plush stuffed airplane toy that could double as both an excitement-builder ahead of time, as well as a cozy friend and reminder of home when the big day comes.
Travel can certainly be challenging and stressful for both parents and kids, but with a little know-how and extra savvy, it can be a great experience for everyone. Stay tuned for more tips for traveling with your kids in more future posts!