No doubt, traveling with young children can be stressful and even overwhelming. However, over the last few times we have traveled, I have found a few tips that truly helped our family to make the traveling experience more enjoyable. Without a doubt, the departing trip always seems more stressful, you spend a week vacationing and the task of traveling home doesn’t seem as daunting as the departing trip. I think by the time that return trip rolls around you have more confidence in your ability, you are perhaps not so rushed for time. Your memory is fresh on what went well, decent or outright wrong the last time. Here are six tips for traveling with young children.
Tip #1: In the Bag
Each kiddo can carry their own backpack, with their own supplies and things to do. I would highly recommend not using the drawstring backpacks that don’t secure to the shoulders well if your children are young. Unless you would like to end up being responsible for toting all their bags, this tip is very important. Here is a list of items I always place in the kiddos bag to keep them entertained and happy on the flight:
- Small set of toys of choice (Duplo Legos, action figures, Matchbox cars). Whatever toy this particular child enjoys playing with for an extended period of time. Key here is extended period of time, on their own.
- Coloring book, Highlights magazine and markers. The key here is to have options. Kids get board of doing the same thing. Mix it up!
- Small card game like Go Fish, Uno, or Old Maid. This has saved me multiple times on a layover, delay or over indulgence in screen time.
- Upon arrival at the gate, I usually set the kids up with their set of snacks. I don’t put these in their bags until they get to the gate, because if you do, security will require you remove all snacks, from all bags for the x-ray machine. And let’s be honest- “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
- Tablet, I-pad etc: Yes I always pack this item but there is a reason I have this last on the list.
Reminder: Set the expectation on this one, in advance, as many times as possible, remind them over and over, and give a 5 minute warning for when the tablet will need to be put away. Shoot even bust out the 3 and 1 minute warning to avoid a meltdown if necessary. This MAY just be my boys, but too much screen time can reek havoc in my home, or on a plane, or in an airport, it doesn’t discriminate! It can happen anywhere. This is a handy tip to keep the children entertained but be careful for overuse can have an opposite affect.
Additionally, I love this article written by Juliette Sakasegawa and her experience of allowing her children to pack and prepare themselves for a short trip. I’m not there just yet with my boys, but I love her insight on the her experience letting go and I think you will too for when that time comes! https://thewespot.com/time-to-let-go-of-control/
Tip #2: Snack Pack
I always pack a gallon bag with go to treats to get us through the day and reduce our expenses at the airport. Who wants to pay $4 for a go squeeze!?! I think the key here can be selecting something that is familiar to them. Traveling means change and a new environment for them, helps to have something familiar that is comforting. More on this tip for young children later. Some of my favorite snacks to pack are listed below:
- Go Squeeze
- Fruit Leathers
- Crackers: Goldfish, Annie’s, Ritz.
- A chewy treat for the landing: Starbursts, taffy, Rolos anything chewy but age appropriate.
Most of stress of parenting can be reduced by preparing your children for what is to come. I always provide my boys with some chewy candy for the landing portion of the flight. How many of us have heard a little one wail and wail for the entire descent into the airport on the plane… Um… EVERYONE I am sure!
The change in altitude can affect their little ears and I always feel terrible for a parent when they are dealing with this on the flight. STRESSFUL!!! I usually pack a chewy treat for that descent. The chewing allows the pressure in their ears to pop or maybe it is just a placebo… either way, it always works for me! Don’t have anything like that? Ask the flight attendant for some ice for the little to chew on (provided they are old enough not to choke), this does the trick as well.
Whatever your kiddos really enjoy to chow down on. Bring that! Here is another tip for traveling with young children…
Tip #3: Engage in the new experience with them
Let’s be honest, something new and unfamiliar can cause a toddler to revolt and stop in their tracks, literally. This usually happens in the moment when you are in the biggest hurry. Think creatively, what does your child love or note regularly when driving on the highway or going somewhere new. Does he or she love calling out buses, trains, certain cars? Does he or she love seeing cowboys and Indians or riding escalators and elevators? Subsequently, I’m a boy mom so of course these are on my list. Think carefully about this tip for traveling, you know your child best.
Comment below if you are a girl mom and have great suggestions for this tip. I am probably not the best resource for all the girly things since I have six brothers and three boys of my own. Use this information to your advantage and recall what they might see in the airport or on the plane.
“We get to ride a bus, then an escalator, then a train and then an airplane! Doesn’t that sound exciting!?!”. More often times then not, this gets their motor running. Think of what their interests are or where there might be opportunities of excitement at the airport, on the plane, wherever you can! I would recommend something in the immediate future, not necessarily something at the vacation destination. Immediate gratification is key for this age group. Use that to motivate them. This traveling tip has saved me many times with my young children.
Tip #4:Try to feed them their regular meal, at the regular time
This is key, and can be difficult to navigate. Take a moment to think ahead. If your flight is leaving at 10:30 am and will last 2 hours and your child is used to eating lunch at 11:45 am. Grab a lunch to have on the plane. A child’s preferred snack only buys you a small amount of time and multiple snacks do not necessarily offer the nutrition one needs to sustain energy.
Dealing with Hanger (Hunger resulting in Anger) can be catastrophic! This is one of the greatest tips for traveling with young children.
Tip #5: Give yourself lots of extra time!
There could be and most likely will be lots of extra stops, extra diversions, extra attitudes to check along the way. Plan for that potty break that is so needed five minutes after leaving the first gas station, where you confirmed no one needed to use the restroom but all of the sudden #2 has hit the gate and it is go time. Pay close attention to this traveling tip.
The second restroom you stop at is under extenuating circumstances for quite some time and then you find out the toilet is broken. So you head to a fast food store a few skips away and it doesn’t open for another hour. You upset your toddler by not allowing him his independence to buckle himself in a hurry to get to the third gas station for the day and guess what!?!
The toddler spends five minutes trying to go but then tells you he doesn’t need to go.
Take a deep breath, your cutting it close but it should be fine depending on security lines. You hit the toll road with a flat tire. And now your stressing at all the cars, trucks and semis flying by on that open toll road.Yep! All this did happen indeed on our last trip to Austin… all before 9 am! My hubby changed his tire in under 13 minutes flat. Plan for extra time, trust me! Just another imperative tip to traveling with young children.
Tip #6: Take a moment
In conclusion, when everyone is settled at the gate or on the plane take a deep breath in, listen to a song, read a poem or just close your eyes and thank the universe you made it. Just a few minutes to unwind, for you mama. These are just a few tips for traveling with young children. Click the link below for more helpful information when traveling. https://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/traveling-with-kids/12-strategies-for-stress-free-air-travel-with-children/
These are my recent greatest tips for traveling with young children, feel free to comment below with anything helpful that works for your family.