Traveling with kids can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also be a total nightmare if you aren’t prepared. This is especially true for parents used to traveling alone adjusting to traveling with children. While rushing through the airport for a 45 minute connection after your flight was delayed is possible when it’s just you and your partner, that same mad dash is virtually impossible with kids. Then, there is the issue of luggage, hotel beds, whether that rental car will be big enough, car seats, child tickets, finding restaurants that serve mac and cheese or chicken nuggets, and so on.
The truth is that very small adjustments make traveling with your kids fun and easy. Unfortunately, many families don’t travel often enough to learn the ropes well enough to avoid disaster or whining. We’re here to help. Here are some of the best travel tips for traveling with children.
Types of Vacations with Kids
One thing to remember is that not all vacations are equal. A long car ride is very different than a multi-state road trip, which is completely different than flying somewhere. Then, again, most vacations involve some similarities. For example, whether you fly or drive, you have to keep little ones entertained while in a closed space for a period of time much longer than they are use to.
Whether it’s a car ride or a plane ride, toys help make things smoother. It is important to get the right toys. Vacation time is not the time to insist on educational, homemade, organic, free-range toys. Quite the contrary, now is the time to go with whiz bang, I’ve never seen that, what does this button do toys. Check out these tips for flying with toddlers.
When it comes to vacation, novelty, or newness is important. They’ll be in the same seat for hours. Even their favorite toy won’t hold up that long. It’s time to think new, or at least new to them.
If you have an iPad for your kids, or other toy of this type, think about downloading some new apps. But, don’t do it ahead of time. They won’t be shiny and new for the airplane. However, beware all those apps that won’t work without a network connection. Internet connections on airplanes are unreasonably expensive, and even more unreliable. Test the apps out by turning on airplane mode and trying to play them. Any that won’t work, get the ax.
If you think a toy is noisy and annoying, imagine what other passengers think. Leave the loud toys at home. Also, remember your space constraints. Big toys aren’t going to fly, neither are ones that need to placed on a level surface for a long period of time. Those airplane trays aren’t very big, and they aren’t all that stable either. If the toy can’t be dropped and picked back up without issue, save it for the hotel.
Books are great, workbooks or puzzle books are even better. Be sure to bring plenty of pencils, markers, crayons, or whatever your child uses.
Don’t forget about snacks. Kids get hungry when you are miles from the next rest stop. Airplanes are no better with airlines racing to the bottom in amenities and customer service. Don’t expect to get a juice or bag of peanuts on demand without paying through the nose for it.
This presents a special problem at airports where they won’t let you take liquids through security. For juices or milk, there is really nothing you can do about it, so you’ll have to pay the high airport concession prices for a juice to take on. Make sure you bring your own cups and straws so you don’t have to rely on a friendly flight attendant (that you may or may not have). For water, you can take empty bottles through security. Take several (more than you think you will need) and fill them up at the drinking fountains in the airport.