Traveling with kids can often be a daunting task. I love to travel with my son and we do it quite often. While we do lots of family trips I like to do trips with just my sona and I. Here’s a few tips I have learned over the years that can Keep Your Sanity When You Travel With Kids…
I am a FIRM believer in TigTagz Bands. They are bands that a child wears with that you can put any important information on – like medical conditions or phone numbers. We have our numbers on my son’s, so if he ever gets separated he knows to go to a police officer or someone in a store and ask them to call us. I make him wear these anytime we are in large crowds of people. While I am a hawk when it comes to my kid and watch him like crazy, it only takes a second to loose a kid in a crowd. With these I feel a little safer that he will be able to get back to me if he ever does get separated. These are especially great if your child has a medical condition or isn’t old enough to remember phone numbers yet. I think I bought 50 for around $17 and they have lasted us over 4 years now – definitely worth the investment.
My son packs a small backpack for any trip we do now. He puts in the toys and books, anything he wants to play with. This bag is his responsiblity and he carries it the entire time. Normally his DS goes with us so make sure you have chargers for any gaming systems. I also strap a TigTagz on the bag. Just in case!
Kids in Cars
I don’t travel at night if at all possible, especially when it is just the two of us. This means my son doesn’t sleep normally, so I always make sure he “gets his wiggles out” before we get in the car for the trip. Running in the yard, a playground, friends over, anything to help him get some energy out. If we are stopping for lunch, I sacrifice and eat somewhere with a playground (or a park if I can find one) just so he can run for a few minutes.
I also bring snacks and juice boxes and water. This helps keep him busy and makes for less stops. Although keep the drinks to a minimum or you will be making a lot of bathroom stops!
When he was smaller, I would bring a toy bag. I would put the bag right behind the front seat in the center so I could easily grab toys. As you know little kids play with toys for a few minutes and then drop them. This made it easy to grab another one and pass it to him. We did this until the bag was empty and then refilled when we stopped for bathroom breaks.
Audio books are great for road trips. There are thousands of titles available and kids love hearing stories. Special kids music will also work quite well. Its amazing how much a kid can dance full strapped into a car seat…LOL.
Flying with Kids
Try not to travel at peak times. I find early morning flights are much easier because the lines are shorter and there is less chance for delays. 9-10am flights work well for us because we don’t have to get up super early and it is right after the early morning business flights. If you have a long flight – possibly do a red eye. Overnight flights are great because chances are good the kiddos will sleep through most of it!
Check in before hand. Most airlines will allow you to check in 24 before departure online. This cuts down on the time you stand in line a lot because you can print your boarding passes early. You can also do this if you are checking bags. Simply find the line that allows for bag drop offs, it is normally quite short.
If your kids are older, explain the security check point. My kiddo was super patient in line (totally unlike him) because he was fascinated by the scanners and TSA employees. This made going through a whole lot easier.
Most airlines allow families to board early, make sure to take advantage of this. If you don’t have designated seats, sit as close to the front as possible so you can get off the plane faster.
The pressure in an airplane can be brutal on small children, their poor ears are just not used to it. I found having my son eat or drink while taking off and landing has helped a lot. Chewing gum can help too. If you have a baby, try to schedule a feeding during that time. It really seems to help.
Bring headphones, most planes now have TVs and if you have your own headphones you can save yourself $2 on buying them. Plus they ones they sell aren’t really designed for small children. They are normally the earbud type that don’t stay in.
Dealing with delays – if you are at the airport and get delayed ask if the airport has a playground. Some do or have play areas. We got delayed for four hours on our trip so we spent a few hours walking around the Jacksonville airport. We found a putting green in one of the restaurants and it kept the kiddo entertained for almost an hour. The rest of the time we spent riding up and down the escalators…LOL.
I only have one kid so traveling is easier for us than those with larger families. I would love to hear some of your tips for traveling with larger families. Post a comment if you have some tips!