Guidelines for Traveling with Kids
We travel, a lot, and I mean a whole lot. Over the years we have come up with some really great tips to keep everyone happy and sane on the trips. I’m not saying I’m an expert or anything, but I do have a lot of experience. I hope you will find something great to try on this list.
|This is a plane we nervously rode in from the mainland of Belize to a tiny island. I was praying the whole time.|
I have three grown children and three grandchildren, which doesn’t make me an expert on parenting, but it has provided me with some ideas about traveling with children. When my kids were young, we moved every three to nine months because of my husband’s job, sometimes by car and sometimes by plane, depending on where we were moving. I have lived in 19 states and 7 countries, but have been to 45 states and 19 countries. My kids have been to most of those places with me. That’s a lot of traveling.
|This is my family, minus the newest member. We need to get a new picture.|
We have traveled by car, plane, boat and train, but the secret to happy kids is the same no matter what. Get them involved and keep them busy. Oh, and lots of snacks. Here are some ideas that I have used for my kids. Hopefully you can find a few that will help you survive.
* If you are visiting or moving to a new place, let the kids help you decide what you will do and see when you get there. There are loads of travel books in the library and bookstores. There are also thousands of websites detailing every corner of the earth. I personally like books better than the websites and then you can write notes and take the books with you.
* If you are going to another country, please, please, please educate your kids ahead of time about the culture you are going to experience. You really don’t want to offend someone. For example, in Estonia it is considered rude to show the bottom of your feet or shoes to someone. In some cultures you only shake hands with your right hand. If you’re visiting a palace in some countries you can’t go in certain areas of the grounds. (Yes, we know this first hand.)
|My youngest daughter in Amsterdam. She sat down with a couple of french fries.
It was really funny and she loved it, although it freaked her out a little.
* Be sure to have lots of snacks, but not ones filled with sugar. Also, nothing too sticky. Some of our favorites are carrot sticks, celery sticks, jerky, Goldfish crackers, pretzels, Chex Mix, nuts (if your kids are a little older), raisins, animal crackers (not the frosted ones), cheese crackers.
* Be sure to make sure they have enough water to drink. For some reason traveling is dehydrating. This may or may not be a scientific fact, but it is my observation.
* Take breaks to stretch your legs and let the kids run some of their energy out. If you are traveling by car, you could take a picnic lunch and stop at a park. Then the kids can be fed something good for them and run around in the same stop.
* This might seem odd, but believe me, it’s a good idea. Take a roll of toilet paper in your car. You never know when you won’t be able to find a bathroom and have a kid that can’t wait. (Yes, this has happened to us before.)
* Make sure you have wipes, lots of wipes. A roll of paper towels if you’re traveling by car is a good idea too.
Here’s a story about the paper towels for you. It’s a good one, so don’t skip it. When my youngest daughter was 3 years old, we were driving from Quebec, Canada to Idaho. If you Map quest it, that is a 42 hour drive. We were pulling a trailer, so it was a little longer. One of the days we were traveling, we were driving through Nebraska. Well, it happened to be football season and we couldn’t find a hotel for miles and miles. The people of Nebraska are serious football fans. I mean it, we ended up being in the car for 18 hours that day. It was terrible. Well, my then three year old daughter was coming unglued. We just couldn’t console her. I handed her a paper towel to wipe her nose with and she proceeded to tear that paper towel up into probably 500 tiny pieces. We handed her another one and she did it again. I guess the repetition was calming to her. We had quite the mess, but we really didn’t care at that point.
* When traveling by car for more than one day, try to stop at a hotel with a pool at night. Then you can let your kids get some of their energy out before you need them to sleep.
* Have lots of activities that your kids like to keep them occupied. We had magnetic boards with pieces that went with them, like cars, animals and dolls. It’s a great time for them to practice their reading, so be sure they bring books. Coloring books and colored pencils are a great time user. Don’t bring crayons, they melt in the car. Towards the end of our moving around they came out with the portable DVD players with screens to watch movies. Those are a great thing. Hand held video games are good. Books on tape can be fun. Talking in the car is great too. You have a captive audience. Find out what they like or want to be when they grow up or see if they can think of a topic.
* When traveling by plane, be sure to take an extra set of clothes for each child in your carry-on. You never know when someone will get sick, spill something on their self or have an accident.
* When you’re packing the luggage, put one set of clothes for each person in each piece of luggage so if a bag is lost, one person isn’t out all of their clothes. When we moved to Estonia, somehow my bags went to Paris and Belgium. Luckily I had packed so that no one was completely without clothes because it took a few days for the bags to find me. I have to admit, I was a little envious of those bags.
* If you have a particularly long trip, before the trip go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of things your kids will like, such a cars, army men, dinosaurs, dolls, books, pencils, or treats. Then wrap them individually in wrapping paper. When the kids start to get restless, give them a present to unwrap. You don’t have to have one an hour, but several works great. Then they have something new to occupy themselves.
|My husband and I in Belize this past April. Talk about Paradise.|
If you are traveling by plane, your kid’s ears will hurt during take off and landing. It’s the pressure of the air that does it. If you have a little one, give her a bottle, pacifier or nurse her during take off and landing. If the kids are a little older, chewing gum or a gummy fruit snack will do the trick of keeping their ears unplugged. If you don’t do this, they will scream. It hurts bad.
I hope that this has been really informative and given you some new ideas about traveling with your kids. It is great to take them where ever you can. They really need to see the world and experience other cultures, even in their own country. It makes them more empathetic towards other people and gives them a broader outlook on the world. This is so important at this time in history.
Thanks for reading along. What are some of your tips for traveling with kids? Samantha is raising her kids now and would love some new ideas! Leave us a comment below.