Traveling With Kids? Tips on Keeping Your Sanity…

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So, you are ready for your grand adventure… your first trip as a family. Whether by land, sea, or air, just the thought of traveling with young children can be daunting! Rest assured, with a little pre-planning your traveling nightmares will disappear!

Here are some simple tips that can make traveling with young children easier:

  1. Expect the Unexpected: Always have extra snacks, drinks, formula, milk, diapers, comfort objects, and a few changes of clothes on hand. Cars break down, flights get delayed, and boats don’t always dock.  Having a few essentials on hand will make wait times go by much smoother.
  2. Plan for the Potty: If your child is in diapers, bring a lot of them! Children tend to eat and drink more while traveling, so be prepared. Remember your travel changing pad and wipes. If your child is potty training, or already trained, you must also be prepared. If you are on a plane, the bathroom becomes the most fun place on earth. It’s the reason the child is able to get out of their seat! Be prepared that they will ask you to use the potty over and over again. After the child has gone to the potty, and you know that he doesn’t have to go, don’t bring him back again right away. When he starts asking to go, ask him if he would like to go for a walk, instead. Chances are they will then ease up on the “potty fun.”  If you’re on a road trip, carry a travel potty with you. Bathrooms are not always clean or convenient.  Travel potties are not only inexpensive, but they are a fast and easy option for children on the road. For children who are in the beginning stages of potty training, play it by ear. Children often don’t want to use new bathrooms when they are first learning, so have a few extra diapers, and don’t stress about it. Even if the child does not use the potty on vacation, you can get right back on track when you get home.
  3. Have your magic bag on hand: “What is the magic bag?” you ask. It’s the bag that has fun activities your child enjoys! Pick toys or games that will keep your child busy. Crayons, coloring books, water pens, CD’s, DVD’s, story books, play dough- anything is game. The rule of thumb is to pick things that are easy to clean up, don’t make a huge mess, will distract your child, and will keep them occupied. Have a few of these items in your “magic bag”, but only introduce one at a time. When the child is bored, remove that item, and move on to the next! The “magic bag” can be your savior!
  4. Be prepared: Always have a medicine bag with items such as Tylenol, Motrin, travel thermometer, prescriptions your child takes, bug spray, sun block, baby wash, first aid kit with Neosporin, and some anti-itch ointment. These things can be expensive to purchase, so being prepared will not only save you financially, it will set your mind at ease.
  5. Keep Child-Friendly In Mind: Think about what time of day works best for your family when traveling. Some people choose to travel at night so their children will sleep through most of the trip, while others choose early morning travel in an attempt to avoid delays or traffic.  Also, try to find child-friendly airlines or rest stops. Children traveling by car need frequent breaks to get out some energy. Google your destinations to find rest stops with parks or fields to run in. If traveling by air, call and plan ahead. Request seating together and toward the back of the plane where there may be empty seats available. This will give your child the space they need to travel in comfort.

The first plane trip I took with my sons, our flight was delayed 4 hours and we were not allowed to disembark.  Being stuck in a plane with a 3 year old and an infant isn’t much fun. The first road trip I took with my son I learned the hard way he had motion sickness. Life is full of surprises, and what I took away from both of these experiences were memories. Regardless of the travel chaos, we still had fabulous vacations, and now I have stories to tell. The key to traveling with children is to stay calm, laugh when things get hectic, and do the best you can. Remember they are only little once, so cherish it, and enjoy your vacation!

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