How to travel with kids without losing your mind
Traveling with children can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you plan ahead and pack smart, you can avoid the most common problems parents face when traveling with kids. Here are a few tips to help make your trip go smoothly:
1. Make a packing list and stick to it.
This will help you avoid packing too much (and having to lug around heavy luggage) or forgetting essential items. Pack light – you really don’t need as much as you think you do. Make sure your carry-on bag is packed with essentials in case of delays or lost luggage, it can include:
first aid supplies – wipes, thermometer, necessary medicine, diapers;
healthy, kid-friendly snacks: crackers, nuts, carrots;
favorite toys and a new toy to add even more entertainment.
2. Traveling by plane? Check the policies.
Remember that most major airlines allow children under the age of 2 to fly free as lap children. In most cases, you can check your stroller and car seat for free too. Some airlines also have great programs for kids, like coloring books and special meals on board.
3. Pre-book everything you can.
You can save yourself a lot of headaches by booking your hotels, car rentals, and activities in advance. In case you have a flight and drive to the airport in your own car, make sure to think about airport parking too. By planning everything in advance you don’t have to worry about dealing with cranky kids while you’re trying to make last-minute arrangements. If possible, try to travel during off-peak times when there are fewer crowds.
4. Bring along some activities for the kids to keep them occupied.
Coloring books, small toys, and puzzles are all great options. This will help prevent meltdowns due to boredom. And speaking of meltdowns… No matter how well you plan, there will inevitably be tantrums and tears at some point during your trip. It’s just a fact of travel with children.
5. Focus on convenience — not always cost.
It’s worth spending a little extra to make your trip more convenient. For example, if you’re flying, it may be worth it to pay for early boarding so you can get settled with your kids before everyone else boards the plane. You may also want to splurge on a lounge zone at the airport, which will give you a quiet place to relax while the kids play.
6. Don’t overload your schedule with education.
If the entire trip is spent at museums and historical attractions, your children will be bored at some point. For this reason, make sure there is plenty of downtime for the kids to just run around and play. Finding the correct balance will make the journey enjoyable for everyone.
7. Talk to your kids about what to expect.
If you have younger kids, it’s a good idea to talk to them about what the trip will entail. This way they know what to expect and can be excited about the different parts of the trip. For older kids, involve them in planning the trip — let them choose activities they want to do and places they want to go.
8. Expect that not everything will go according to plan.
And that’s okay! Just roll with the punches and remember that the most important thing is to spend quality time with your family. At the end of the day, that’s what vacations are all about.
So there you have it — a few tips to help you plan a successful trip with your children.