In the words of the Red Hot Chill Peppers… I know that life is beautiful around the world. We’ve had the great fortune to travel individually and as a family and know that skylines, sunrises and sunsets in other cities inspire our souls. We love travel despite the process of traveling. Of course we could most easily do it without our girls but now that we travel with not one but two under-five the process has become all the more interesting. It can be physically challenging but in reality keeping them (especially the 4-year-old) entertained and engaged is now part of the fun.
Both our girls are relatively good travelers. They are mostly well-behaved (no seat kicking or high pitch screams) but they are still kids that require 100 percent of our attention. I’ve found that all the usual prep (books, apps, movies, games, etc.) works well but what works even best revolves around us.
Top Five Tips for traveling with kids
- Prepare them well. Tell them about the process, places, and things they can expect both in transit as well as when you arrive. Read books about the mode of transportation or location / activity before you go. Knowing what’s going on seems to help them accept things they normally wouldn’t.
- Accept that YOU are the entertainment. Don’t bring along your magazines or music expecting to “zone-out” while they toss a fit (you can read but wait until they fall asleep). Instead, tell them stories about the place you’ll be visiting or how and why you chose this destination.
- Maybe share a story from childhood or a favorite book story. You know your child best so choose what’s appropriate but recognize that sharing of “you”… your time and personal experiences is a BIG deal to them and will engage them for a good amount of time.
- If your little one is visual or tactile engage them through art (ask them to draw a picture of what they think the room, or hotel, or city will look like). The key is that you are interacting and directing their time while in transit.
- Establish a plan. If you are traveling with a partner then discuss who will do what. Do your best to work with that plan. Will he be the check-in guy while you change diapers before you go through security? Preparing our spouses is just as helpful as prepping our kids.
- Allow for extra time and be patient with your family and yourself. If you’re traveling alone with more than one child be patient with yourself and allow for ample extra time. Just checking-in and getting through security will be a process but if you are late and rushing it will be that much worse which will get you all off to a bad start. Do your best to be early and hang out by the gate playing games or sleeping depending on your child.
- For air travel use a CARES and check the car seat. It is hard enough to get the carry-ons, the diaper bag, and your child on the plane let alone having to lug a bulky car seat. What has worked extra well for us is a simple formula: Check car seat, gate check stroller (love the Sit and Stand for two kids of different ages) and use the CARES on the plane. I also like my soft structured carrier (I love my ERGO) which helps my baby nap and disconnect from all the chaos when needed while giving me free hands to work with my preschooler.
There are lots of other tips and tricks when traveling with kids. Find some of our favorites on this Pinterest Board and don’t forget to follow once you’re there.