Before you had kids, the idea of a vacation probably sounded relaxing. And now, that feels like eons ago. Traveling with young children can be overwhelming, to say the least. Between packing woes and getting through on-fight tantrums, it’s filled with potential landmines.
But let’s face it, you’ve got some landmines at home too. After all, you’ve got kids. And the younger the kids, the bigger the landmines. So there’s no reason to lock yourself up in the house. If disaster is going to strike, it could be anywhere. May as well be on vacation, right?
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When planning on traveling with young children, you can do more than keeping your fingers crossed for good vibes and better behavior. There are steps you can take to help ensure things go smoothly.
7 tips for traveling with young children
Give yourself more time than you’ll need.
You know how long it takes a toddler to get from the front door into their car seat. So just imagine how long it takes that same child to get through an airport. Of course, you’ll be helping them along, but you’ll want to be prepared for the inevitable distraction, meltdown or potty emergency along the way.
If you don’t leave enough time, you’re going to get stressed out. And no one wins when the parents are stressed.
It helps in more ways than one to travel light when you’re en route to your destination.
While it’s tempting to take everything you could possibly need to keep your kids occupied, get in the habit of packing light anyway. Have them pick out a couple of their absolute favorite toys to bring along. And if you have access to a washing machine, try not to pack too many spare outfits.
Also, resist the urge to bring everything in your carryon. Getting through the airport is tough enough with kids. You don’t want to have to worry about lugging around extra stuff too.
Track your kids
If you’re worried about losing a kid, you can invest in a GPS tracking device to attach to their backpack or wrist. You may have to pay for service when you’re using it, but it’s a small price for peace of mind. These devices will allow you to track your child via smartphone app if you get separated.
Flight vs Road Trip
When you have a large family, the flying versus a family road trip question is often a no-brainer. Even the cheapest flights can get expensive fast when you’re multiplying the cost by five or six people.
Sure, there will be those rare Caribbean getaways or trips to Disney, but you’re probably not going to want to make every trip a flight. Just make sure you have a comfy all-weather vehicle like a Volkswagen Atlas or Subaru Outback to handle the journey. And be sure to pack the essentials when traveling with kids!
Plan any flights wisely
If you are taking a flight with an infant or toddler, consider taking an overnight flight if possible. It’s a gamble, but it’s more likely that your child will be asleep. On the flip side, if your child is awake on a night flight, it could be even more stressful. But that’s the type of gamble you have to take when you’re traveling with kids.
Bring lots of snacks
You know how grumpy you get when you’re hungry? Well, it’s magnified by about 1,000 percent with kids. Keep everyone happy by providing enough snacks. Try to bring at least one of everyone’s favorite snack and disperse them throughout the trip. Bringing your own will also help save money.
Play travel games
One of the most dangerous things about traveling with young children is that there’s a lot of downtime. That leaves a lot of time for kids to get bored and rambunctious. Before they start climbing the walls, break out the road trip activities. Try old classics like Eye-Spy or 20 questions.
Traveling with young children can be stressful, but it’s likely to go much more smoothly if you plan ahead.