Traveling with your kids this summer? Whether it's your first trip or your fifth, the thought of spending 5 hours on a plane with a 3 year old can be a bit... overwhelming. Traveling with kids in tow can be tough! But, it doesn't always have to be. Traveling should be a way to connect with your kids. Show them all the amazing places in the world. Let them explore new things.
In our humble opinion, experiencing the world is the best education.
So, we've put together 14 tips to help reduce your stress when traveling with your little ones. Pack your bags!
1. Bring Surprises
- When flying with a toddler or baby, bring something new for them to play with. A new toy will be more attention-grabbing and hopefully keep them busy for a little longer than usual!
2. Use a Smaller Stroller
- Traveling through an airport with a little one is hard to do without a stroller. So, consider switching to one that is more travel friendly. Smaller strollers are easier to fold up, stow, and lug around when not in use. Don't have a smaller stroller? Ask around and see if you can borrow from or trade with a friend! Pro tip: sometimes it can be a good idea to check your stroller at the gate before boarding the flight.
3. Plan a Packing List
- We're big fans of lists. When packing for the plane and packing suitcases, make a list. Get your kiddo involved, too: what do they think they should bring? Create some boundaries, if necessary... not all 30 stuffed animals can make the trip!
4. Prepare for Air Pressure
- Sometimes the changes in air pressure when flying can be very uncomfortable for kids who aren't used to flying or have a little bit of a cold. If you are worried about it, grab extra water for your kids and make sure they're extra hydrated for the flight. They can also sip during takeoff and landing. Drinking (and the act of gulping or swallowing) helps relieve the pressure!
5. Seat Kids Away From the Aisle
- Go ahead, grab that aisle seat for yourself. Your kiddo will be perfectly happy (we hope) in the middle. Aisle seats can be a bit of a risk and temptation for kids: reaching into the aisles, running down the aisles, getting bumped by drink carts... Treat yourself and take care of your kid by taking that more spacious seat. If you have the option, keeping kids in their own space by the window will help contain and give them a great window view.
6. Try Not to Overpack
- Keep in mind that unless you're doing some truly adventurous traveling (good for you!!!) whatever you might forget can most likely be bought where you're going. Don't stress too much about it. If you are afraid of not packing enough, research items beforehand to prepare for alternatives.
7. Book Wisely
- If you book a hotel, take your time researching to make sure it is kid-friendly. If you go the vacation rental route, be prepared to go grocery shopping and make yourself at home. Sometimes, local markets and grocery stores are fantastic ways to get to know a new place! Plus, you might be able to introduce your kids to some fun new foods.
8. Try A Practice Run
- Here's an idea: have a play practice run at home to teach your kids all about airport security, boarding onto the flight, loading luggage, and preparing for different situations that may occur. Make it fun! Get everyone to take off their shoes, show their "tickets," walk to the gate... maybe even build an "x-ray machine" out of cardboard! Take turns playing airport security. We've seen little kids afraid of x-ray machines turn into seasoned pros overnight!
9. Do Your Research!
- Not all of us are vacation planners. Some of us (ahem) like to have some time to wing it and go with the flow. But, even for us more adventurous souls, it pays to do your research in advance. That's doubly true when traveling with kids. You may be able to walk an extra couple of miles to get to the next hotel, but your kid probably can't. So, get out your pens or your Excel spreadhseet and create that agenda! Map out your kid-friendly restaurants, schedule rest times (and places), and build in some extra surprises to give your kids the vacation of a lifetime!
10. Prepare For Germs
- No one wants to get sick. Especially not on vacation. Practice hand sanitizing before and after entering a new place. When flying with kids (and even without), use wipes to wipe everything down from seats to tray tables to windows. If its accessible, your kid will probably touch it. Also, when they need to go to the bathroom, make sure you are prepared to wipe everything down in there as well!
11. Give Yourself Time!
- Get to the airport early! Even if you've practiced going through security and checking in, it will always take a bit longer than you expect. And, even if it doesn't, it's always nice to be calm and settled before a flight. Panicked parents create anxious kids! Do everyone a favor and add a couple of extra hours to your schedule.
12. Explain The Journey
- Preparing your kids for your travel plans can help you prepare more as well. Let them know what is going to happen, where you're going, and when it is going to happen. It's a great way to give your kids responsibility and they'll enjoy recognizing all the steps along the way.
13. Keep Your Composure
- Just remember, things won't be perfect. Nothing ever is. Kid getting fussy on a flight? Of course they are! Don't worry about it. The more you can keep your composure, the more your kids (and those around you) will reflect your calm. Besides, as you're well aware, there's not much you can do if your child gets fussy on a flight. Life happens and we're just along for the ride!
- Although it may seem like traveling with kids is a journey in itself, it is all worth it! Remember the trips you took with your parents? Your kids will remember theirs just the same. Enjoy yourself and soak in every wonderful moment.