Many parents want to enjoy the beautiful and historic sights around the country with their children. They want to visit amusement parks, landmarks, and family members. However, some parents shy away from any major traveling because the packing and the drive or flight are miserable with children along. Following these tips will make travel with infants, toddlers and older children less of a hassle and more of a memorable experience.
Make a List before Packing
Making a list several days in advance will make the packing go quickly and easily and will also ensure that nothing is left behind. Everything should go on the list, including bathroom and sleeping necessities and the number of diapers, bottles and outfits that will be needed. When it comes time to pack, parents can move quickly down the list, knowing that they will not forget anything. In fact, some people choose to make a master list of items that they will need whenever they are traveling; this way, they do not need to make a new list each time.
Snacks are vital to any trip that is over two or three hours in length. Parents’ regular schedules are often thrown off-balance while traveling, and they may forget about usual snack times for children. The best way to distribute snacks is to give an individual snack bag to each child to decrease arguing and fighting over amounts. In fact, some parents prefer to make up little bags of food at home, writing each child’s name on the bag with permanent marker. Drinks should be individual plastic bottles or juice boxes or may be reusable sippy cups or traveling cups. The most important thing to remember is not to serve snacks that are particularly messy or sticky while traveling.
Bring Games, Books and Other Fun Activities
Children need to have something fun to do to fill the time while they are sitting still. Activities should be chosen based on children’s particular interests. Some children will be perfectly happy to read books throughout the entire trip. Smaller children may like toys that can be easily held or crayons and paper. Young children will definitely want special stuffed animals and blankets along for relaxing and napping. Many parents have vehicles with DVD players or may have a portable DVD player. They should bring headphones for each child to eliminate noise from movies in the front of the vehicle.
Plan on Making Extra Stops
If traveling by car, parents should plan to make more stops than they would if they were traveling without children. Children usually need to use the bathroom more often than adults do, and it is difficult to get several children to use the bathroom at the same time. Besides this, children are used to moving and playing for a large portion of the day. Parents should plan on stopping at grassy areas or playgrounds to allow their children to burn off some energy. Many rest stops on freeways have playgrounds and areas with trees and picnic spots for lunching.
Do Not Pack More Than Is Needed
Although it is vital to bring everything that is needed for a stay away from home, some parents lean the other way and pack too many clothes, books and toys Of course, it costs more to check an extra bag at an airport, and extra suitcases take up precious trunk space. To decrease the number of suitcases that are taken, parents can have children of any age bring their own backpacks filled with snacks and activities.
Specific Tips for Traveling by Plane
- Plan to arrive at the airport early.
- Bring children some food to chew or a bottle to drink during takeoff and landing.
- Bring an extra set of clothing in a carry-on for small children.
- Get seats in the back of the plane to decrease the chance of disturbing other fliers.
- Use the bathroom before getting on the plane.
Traveling with children does not have to be a harrowing ordeal. It can be great fun and a fabulous way of bonding as a family. Although traveling with children requires more planning than traveling alone does, the great memories are well worth the effort.