07 Aug How to Travel with Kids
Sometimes I flashback to the days when heading to the airport to go on vacation was a leisurely affair. Getting ready was straightforward. My husband and I used to arrive at the gate with plenty of time to spare. Everything ran smoothly the majority of the time.
Now that I’ve been a mom for almost six years and traveled countless times with my two kids, those effortless trips seem like a distant dream.
In fact, these days, anytime that I drive or fly alone feels like a peaceful getaway!
Traveling with kids can be fun. but it can also be a LOT of hard work. It oftentimes leaves you more exhausted than restful, regardless of the vacation destination.
Even though it isn’t always easy, getting away as a family is something that we make a priority in the Allen household.
Why? Well, my husband, Kris is a touring musician, so traveling to see him is a must. Every place we visit becomes a chance to experience new things with our kids and that is one of our favorite things as a family.
From Disney World when Oliver and Rosie were four and one to the San Diego/LA/LegoLand trip we all took together last summer, there’s nothing quite like making amazing family memories together. Am I right?
However, you need to travel smart to ensure those family vacations live on in your mind as cherished treasures, not nightmares.
Here are a few of my top tips when it comes to traveling with kids.
Planning and preparation are KEY when you’re traveling as a family and anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t have children or doesn’t travel with them! Planning takes the stress away in the days leading up to the trip and makes the whole operation function like a well-oiled machine.
Luckily, I have the Artful Agenda at my disposal so I can devise a daily task list that I need to complete in the days leading up to the trip. This helps me to space out my prep and make sure that I’m not up all night right before we leave, scrambling to get things finished.
In terms of laundry, I always try and get this done for the trip three days ahead of time.
I find that if I put this one task off, I’m always left feeling flustered before we go- or that we end up in the middle of a different state, and I have completely forgotten socks for somebody!
Speaking of the Artful Agenda, I also use the list tab to create a master packing checklist. To keep everything organized, I have a heading for each person, and I check items off as I put them in the suitcase!
There are two things that I ALWAYS overpack because we continue to go through what we bring in these categories:
- Activities (ESPECIALLY books) for the car/plane to keep the kids entertained
- Snacks as hangry kids (and let’s be real, adults) can zap the fun out of a family trip in a matter of minutes)
In my experience, it’s also a good idea to take the following:
- Basic medicine (for if your child gets unexpectedly sick)
- A comfort item (if you think your child is feeling anxious about the trip, their favorite stuffed animal, small blanket, or storybook may relax them)
FYI I ALWAYS use backpacks for plane travell—a big one for me and a small one for each kid. Trust me, they make life so much easier for navigating the narrow aisles!
Limit Screen Time Beforehand
If your family usually allows screen time, one of my best tips is to really limit it the week before your trip.
Why? This will build up the kids’ excitement to watch a movie or TV show on the plane or in the car so it holds their attention.
Also, have a tablet, phone, or video game to hand for unexpected situations, such as delayed flights or canceled trains. It will keep them amused when things go wrong.
Oh, and it helps if you download plenty of entertainment options beforehand that are ready to go. You just never know when you’ll be without the gold dust that is WiFi.
Get the Little Ones Pumped
If you’re traveling for the first time with your kids, it’s important to introduce them to the trip ahead of time. It’s no secret that uncomfortable kids aren’t happy kids—and this may ultimately affect the overall mood of your trip.
From explaining to them what they can expect at the airport to giving them a general outline of each part of the journey, helping the kids to understand what will be going on around them will make them feel more at ease when those situations are happening.
Me? I like to talk about all of the EXCITING things that we’re going to do when we arrive at our destination. (Just make sure not to mention it too early or they will have trouble waiting for it!)
Taking It Slow When Traveling With Kids
Traveling with kids is a challenge that you learn to manage better as time goes by.
Just keep in mind that everything takes longer than you expect when you’re traveling with your family. The trick is to arrive at the airport/train station/tour terminal early and leave plenty of leeway in case things go wrong. It also helps to leave some time for things to go right- a new and excited traveler will have way more fun if they get to stop and watch airplanes take off without their adults stressing about boarding times!
That said, sometimes circumstances happen that are out of your control and it’s how you deal with it that matters. Take it slow, keep your cool, and—above all—have fun! It’s your vacation, after all.
You’ve got this, mama.