I don’t have kids. I’m not pregnant. BUT, I know a lot of awesome mamas that travel with their kiddos on the regular & have managed to do it will grace & poise.
I’ve been asked several times for my advice on traveling with kids, and since I can’t speak from experience, I’ve asked these champions how they make it look so easy! These are high tech mama’s, crunchy natural moms, and everything in between. These moms have anywhere from 2 to 5 kiddos, ages ranging from infant to high schoolers! There’s a little something for everyone.
Please note: every kid is different, as you know. If it doesn’t sound right for you or your kids, then please don’t take it to be the only way! Just ideas from other parents who have been there, too.
“We don’t have a dvd player in the car, but we let them get one new game on our phones when we will be going on a trip of 3 hours of more. It’s very helpful – it makes it more special for them because we rarely get new games!”
“We always have favorite blanket or sleeping lovey with them to help with napping.”
“ASTC & zoo memberships! We have a membership to a science center, which is part of the ASTC passport program, which means that we get into a ton of museums & other science centers free. Whenever we are going somewhere, I research where the other ASTC locations are. It works with a lot of zoo memberships as well (research your own membership). It has saved us a huge amount of money and the kids LOVE it! On one 4 day trip, we went to 3 different science centers & 1 aquarium for FREE with the passport program!”
“We have a DVD player that attaches to the head rests. We pack an easily accessible bag with all their favorite movies or ones they haven’t seen in a while.”
“Each kid gets their own set of snacks. This way, nobody is fighting over the last pack of fruit snacks or handful of pretzels.”
“This only works with older toddlers & up, but play car games. They are a great way to pass time & keep them occupied. My husband tells the kids about all the old cars we pass on the road, and they’re in awe every time.”
“Purchase a few new movies, books or activities for your kids. Movies or activities they’ve never seen/played with and therefore will be even more exciting and hold their attention.”
“When all else fails during the travel time, pull out the candy. I always travel with a stash of lollipops to pass out when they’re on the verge of losing it!”
“We try to stick to a normal eating schedule. Ex: leave early, eat breakfast in the car, stop at normal lunch and dinner time so their schedules don’t get too messed up.”
“Have an agenda and timeline for your days while you’re on vacation, but at the same time be willing to stray from it as well.”
“Let your kids know the plan before you leave – make suggestions for their time; ‘You’ll have time to watch two movies before we get to lunch’ – and let them know if anything changes. Kids can cope when they have an idea of what’s going on.”
“If you have good sleepers driving through the night.”
“Having their favorite snacks on hand to minimize stops on road trips or meltdowns on the plane.”
“Try to arrive at your destination or stop at hotel around bedtime or right before around dinner. If their eating schedule stays pretty normal then they should nap at appropriate times in the car.”
“Do your research ahead of time if you’re traveling to a new place with your family – it will help you stay organized and un-frazzled”
“We try and already have our hotel arranged ahead of time so that the kids know how long before we are stopping AND so that we can make sure there is a pool, crib etc. Letting the kids know they will get to swim in 3 hours usually helps!”
“The way you pack the car is essential! Make sure the adult passenger has easy access to help the kids get snacks, change movies & access the diaper bag.”
“Traveling alone with a lap child? Pick a window seat. That way, if your baby is peacefully sleeping, people in your row can still exit without disturbing him/her. If you don’t get an ideal seat ahead of time, ask your neighbor & explain why. TRUST ME – everyone wants your baby to have a good flight!”
“We pick a family color for days we fly – with 4 kids, it’s a lot easier just to look for yellow shirts! We look crazy, but it’s so easy to stay together.”
“Always and forever, sit apart on the plane. I’ve recommended it before, I’ll recommend it a thousand times: When flying as a family, have one parent sit with both kids, and another parent sit alone. Switch off every two hours. Actually makes plane travel a joy for everyone.”
“We have a chalkboard in our house where I count down the days until our trip. Once our oldest started counting, we started doing the same thing with “hours left on the trip” – every hour that passes, we play a fun song and have a dance party in our seats.”
“Round UP on how long it will take to travel. If it’s a 5 hour drive, tell them it’s 6 or 7. If your total flight time is 2.5 hours, still round up just in case of delays. It’s better to under promise and over deliver, then they’re excited to arrive early!”
“Don’t pack a whole suitcase of diapers. Pack enough for 2 days & buy more once you arrive.”
“Make sure to put the kids in slip on shoes to help with making potty stops faster (or so they can get comfortable on the plane)”
“Keep it easy. Stay laid back and don’t let them drive you nuts- at least not externally. My kids get less annoying the less I flip out at them.”
“If your kid is having a terrible time on the plane, don’t stress. Do the best you can! Most people are kind, and those who aren’t… well, you’ll never see them again!”
“Plan to stop when you all need a break and have a few things planned for along the way if it’s a road trip.”
“Have fun. It doesn’t have to be stressful, and sometimes WE are more stressed out about the trip than they are.”
There you have it, ladies and gentleman – advice from some of the best! What are your best tips for traveling with kids? I’d love to hear them!