Does traveling with your kids feel intimidating and scary? You need a few tips to make travel easy with kids.
I used to feel intimidated by traveling with kids, especially when we vacationed with babies. Kids have so many needs, and when you’re traveling from your home to a destination, so many things might go wrong. It feels like if you forget something or everything doesn’t work perfect, then your entire vacation flops.
While this isn’t true, it’s easy to feel that way. It took time for our family to feel confident traveling to different locations.
Here are some of my favorite tips to make traveling easier with kids.
11 Tips to Make Travel Easy with Kids
Don’t avoid traveling because you feel stressed about something going wrong. Use these tips to travel with confidence.
1. Use a Collapsible Wagon in the Airport
Recently, I went through the airport, and instead of using a stroller, we used a collapsible wagon, and it was so much easier. I opted to wear my baby, but another option is to set your baby into their car seat and put the car seat in the wagon.
The benefit of using a wagon instead of a stroller is that it provides more storage space when walking through the airport. You need to have carry-on bags for your children, so they all fit into a wagon, along with jackets and blankets. Stroller baskets aren’t large enough for this.
2. Snacks and More Snacks
Snacks are the key if you want to make travel easy. Kids love to snack; hunger is the quickest way to turn your happy kid into a beast. If you’re traveling by car, it’s easy to create a basket of snacks for your kids.
If you travel by airplane, taking food on the plane is permitted, but you need to do so correctly to make it through airport security. All of the snacks need to fit into a one-gallon-sized plastic bag. It’s best to pack prepackaged foods, but fresh fruits and vegetables also make it through clearance. Any liquid needs to be less than 3.5 ounces.
Examples of snacks to bring on the airplane are:
- Goldfish crackers
- Fruit Snacks
- Rice Cakes
- Peanut Butter Crackers
- Granola Bars
- Protein Bars
3. Earlier is Better Than Later
Kids are typically happier in the morning than they are in the afternoon. Assuming they received an adequate amount of sleep during the night, leaving earlier in the day is recommended if you need to fly to your destination. However, if you’re driving to your destination, I suggest leaving at night or early in the morning; hopefully, your children will continue to sleep in the car.
Your goal is to travel at a time when your children will be the happiest. Fewer tantrums and breakdowns, the better it is for everyone.
4. Take Breaks
Traveling is stressful for everyone, including kids. Long car rides make everyone feel nuts, so take frequent breaks. It might make the drive longer, but it breaks up the boredom and helps everyone stretch their legs.
The same goes for when you arrive at your destination. Taking frequent breaks is wise; kids need to have time to chill out. Running all day, every day leads to unhappy, exhausted kids.
5. Don’t Overpack
Now is the time to embrace minimalism. I highly suggest that you stay at a location that offers a washer and a dryer; make sure to bring change with you. It’s easier to wash a load or two of clothes when you are vacationing with a baby or kids than it is to try to bring all of the clothes they’ll need for the entire time.
The same goes for traveling with baby gear. Traveling with an infant is hard; it feels like you need to bring your entire house. This is the time to learn how to do without a lot of the gear. Ask your hotel if they provide cribs to avoid bringing one with you.
6. Board First When Flying
Most airplanes allow parents with small kids to board first before the other passengers. This is one simple way to make traveling easier; take advantage of this offering. Boarding first gives you time to hook up the car seats that your kids might need and stow away carry-on bags.
I suggest waiting for most people to leave the airplane before getting off. You hold up the line as you unhook car seats, and it leads to frustrations. Plus, the crew is more likely to help when they can get through the line to you.
7. Embrace Technology
Now isn’t the best time to stick to a hard-fast rule of no electronics. Tablets, phones, handheld games, and eReaders are great devices to help make traveling easier. It helps to stop kids from crying and having tantrums during the long car ride or airplane trips.
8. Be Realistic about Expectations
Expecting that everything will go fine without any problems is unrealistic. Traveling is frustrating for adults; it feels the same for kids. Kids have a harder time regulating their emotions, so when they feel upset or annoyed, they let out those feelings.
For older kids, it’s smart to outline your expectations ahead of time, but make those things that are realistic for your child’s age. Otherwise, it creates disappointment for all of you.
Remember, setting up realistic expectations will make or break how you feel when you reach your destination and throughout your vacation. Kids are still kids, and while it’s a good idea to set appropriate goals for older kids, understand that things won’t go as planned every time. That’s okay.
9. Naps Matter When Traveling
If possible, try to plan your activities and traveling around naps. Some parents try to squish all kinds of things together when traveling, expecting their kids to be okay. If your child naps daily, they need to nap on vacation unless you want everyone to be miserable the entire trip. A child who doesn’t sleep well during the day won’t sleep well at night.
Make nap times a priority. Use this time to refuel the troops and take a much-needed relaxation time for you. Sometimes, all we need is to sit and chill on a balcony while our kids snooze.
10. Let Kids Pick Activities
This is your kids’ vacation as well, so make sure you pick things that your kids want to do. You might think that your kids want to go to the aquarium, but in reality, they want to play at the beach all day. Having a mix of things you want to do and that your kids want to do creates the best vacation for all.
11. Low-Key is Great
Something I learned along the way is that your vacations don’t have to be busy and on-the-go all the time. It’s fun to run around and see new things while vacationing, but sometimes, low-key is exactly what your family needs. Your family might need time to relax, play in the sand, swim in the pool, and eat take-out pizza.
That’s a vacation too!
Try These Tips to Make Travel Easy
Even if traveling feels intimidating at first, give it a try. You’ll find what works for your family and how to make travel easy through trial and error. Some of the best things that we learn as parents is through personal experience.