Traveling with your kids can be a fun adventure, but it can also be stressful for them and for you. Leaving home means throwing your routine out the window and encountering countless unfamiliar people, places and things. Here are a few of my favorite tried-and-true tips for traveling with kids to help make it a more pleasant experience for you, your child and your fellow passengers.
Communication is Key
If your child is not a regular traveler, take the time to describe what they can expect. Talk about each major step of the journey, from the ride to the airport or train station, to the onboarding process and the journey itself. Flying, in particular, can be scary, so be thorough with your imaginary walk-through. If you have younger kids, make it fun by acting it out, involving a favorite stuffed toy, or anything that will help them really imagine what the experience will be like. After all, don’t we all feel better when we have a sense of what we’re getting into?
You, unfortunately, can’t bring beverages through security, but you can bring a few favorite snacks to prevent hunger-fueled meltdowns. There are usually plenty of food options for travelers, but some kids are finicky so bring things they like so you don’t have to go down that road. Also, it’s always good to have some extra food on hand. What if you arrive late and all the shops and restaurants are closed? Or if you’re delayed on the runway, or if you arrive in a foreign country and don’t have the correct currency? Having food on hand is essential.
Remember the Comforts of Home
Does your child have their version of a Linus blanket; a special pillow, stuffed toy or favorite book? If one or two of these beloved things are packable, you can ease your child’s anxiety greatly by bringing those personal effects with you. You’ll have smoother travels and smoother transitions once you arrive at your destination.
If you have a long journey ahead of you, bring things to keep your child occupied. That might be a game that you can all play together, a music player/phone, a favorite book, some compact art supplies, a portable video game or laptop or tablet. And don’t forget the headphones. Don’t rely on seatback entertainment on the plane. You might go to the airport thinking that it will be available, and then you change planes at the last minute.
Also, if you have screentime restrictions at home, consider being more flexible on the road. Traveling can be long and tedious, and a bored child can make for tough traveling for them, you and those around you.
Traveling can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind that teaching your children to be good travelers is a valuable lesson, and it can open a host of opportunities for family adventures. Happy and safe travels!