There’s a certain stigma attached to traveling with children. If you’ve ever walked onto a plane holding a baby or a toddler, you’ve probably seen the horrified looks of your fellow travellers as they mouth to each other “please not here, please not here“. Traveling with kids isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding, and create lifetime memories.
Travel with kids may not be easy, but it doesn’t need to be a nightmare, either. Here are 11 travel tips to help make a journey with your children as easy, smooth, quiet and comfortable as it can be.
1. Slack Off
Travel throws a monkey wrench into normal schedules and routines, and can be stressful for everyone. This is a good time to relax some of your normal parenting rules, and give everybody a break. Of course, safety related rules take priority as normal, but what does it hurt to give them a few extra snacks or a special treat? Lightening up can avoid conflict, ease stress, and keep your kids happy (and quiet!)
2. Snacks but No Sugar
If you think your kids could wig out sitting in a confined space for hours, then avoid the sugar! Sugar will only give them more wiry energy that you then have to control. If you are planning on ‘the bribe’ at any point of your journey (and it’s OK if you are), then try nuts or plain popcorn. Some people even use kids vitamins – they look like candy but have far less sugar.
3. New Toys
Buy some new toys, books or games you know your kids will enjoy. The thrill of playing with something new will make them happier about the trip, and keep them pleasantly occupied for hours. This doesn’t need to cost a lot of money if you check out second hand or consignment stores.
4. Take Breaks
When travelling by car, factor in time for stops now and then. It’s a good idea for bathroom breaks, to stretch your legs, and to let the kids run around for ten minutes. It will help burn off their excess energy, and give you a break, too.
5. Take a Stroller
Even if your young child is a good walker, a stroller makes a good place for your child to rest. Having a stroller can also mean less carrying time for you. Sure, taking the stroller can seem like a bit of a hassle, but it will pay off by making things easier for you and them on the trip. Travel can be tiring, and everybody needs a break.
6. Babies and Security
If you try to take a baby in a stroller through airport security, they will ask you to remove him. When this happens with a child who just fell asleep, it’s not a pretty scene. Instead use a baby carrier where your child can travel undisturbed.
Even if your phone, iPod or iPad is usually off limits to your kids, you can let them play with it for a day. Load up some favorite movies and games, and get them started. It’s an unusual treat they’ll enjoy, and it will be worth it for the quiet!
8. Children’s Luggage
If your kids are old enough, get them some child-size luggage, and let them pack their own carry-on bags with their favorite things. It makes them feel more grown up and in control to have their own bag, and it saves you some work, too. Of course you’ll need to review the contents, and modify if necessary!
9. Travel Sickness
Travel sickness can strike on a turbulent plane flight, a boat trip, or even driving on windy roads. Be prepared for travel sickness, and you can nip it in the bud. Ask your pharmacist about anti nausea remedies. You can also use special wrist bands that use acupressure points to prevent motion sickness.
10. Painful Ears
If you are traveling by plane, be prepared for your child’s ears to hurt. It can mean some crying on take-off and landing, but it’s not as common as you might think. If traveling with a baby, offer a bottle or soother during the ascent and descent. For older kids, give them something chewy or crunchy. The key is to keep their jaws moving to open and close those little Eustachian tubes in the ear, and relieve the pressure.
11. Speed up Check-in
Most airlines now have online check-in available, which can mean less time waiting in line at the airport. If there’s a curbside luggage check, that can also speed up the process. Anything you can do to spend less time standing in a line with antsy kids is a good thing, right?
Probably the biggest tip of all when traveling with children is to do whatever it takes to make your trip more pleasant. Giving them a little extra in terms of entertainment or snacks can keep the happier during the journey. When they’re happy, you’ll be happier, too.
Bosmama is a mother and writer. She is training to become an acupuncture practitioner in Victoria BC, where she hopes to specialize in acupuncture for pregnancy.