Traveling with kids can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a challenge if you’re not ready. If you’re planning to go somewhere with the little ones, make sure you’re prepared and all the bases are covered.
This guide offers tips for those occasions, and we have provided sections for traveling with children on planes, cars and trains, as those are different situations that necessitate unique approaches. How to Find International Travel Tips for Family Vacations
Tips for Traveling with Kids Checklist
There are a number of things you need to do, but the following are the most important (note: you may add or remove items depending on the duration of your travel):
sun block, swimsuits, toothbrush, bottled water, sunglasses, health snacks, entertainment (books, games, DVDs, toys), medication, motion sickness pills.
For the baby:
extra bottles and nipples, pacifiers, formula, lotion and powder, wipes, diapers, plastic bags for dirty diaper disposal, collapsible crib, travel stroller, car seat
pillows, blankets, cooler, paper towels, garbage bags and a first aid kit.
If you are traveling by plane:
small toys, compact stroller, extra snacks, kids carry-on baggage for clothes
There are a few other things you need to consider. First, prepare the checklist and pack as early as possible. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to cram all the stuff you need in just a few days or hours.
The earlier you plan, the less hassle it will be and the less likely you’ll forget something. Keep a list of the items you plan on bringing and if the list is too long, arrange them by priority and scratch out those you think are not important.
Also when you’re packing a diaper bag, make sure that the lining is waterproof and that it’s got a shoulder strap for convenience.
Packing extra shirts for the kids is a must, but bring some for yourself just in case. With regards to the kids’ clothes, pack them in one bag or section of your suitcase so it’s easy to find.
It’s also a good idea to use re-sealable plastic bags so your medicines and toiletries don’t leak. If you’re going sightseeing, bring a good travel camera –and a charger- as that should keep the older kids occupied.
Tips for Traveling with Kids in the Car
When traveling with kids in a car, the first order of business is to make sure their car seat is installed properly, as an incorrectly configured car seat can lead to an accident.
If this is a road trip and it’s hot, bring plenty of water for the kids and adults, and there should also be a first aid kit and a flashlight in case the car breaks down late at night.
Speaking of cars breaking down, it’s a good idea to bring along an extra tire and all the necessary tools so you can get it fixed.
Aside from ensuring your road assistance is updated, your smartphone needs to be fully charged so if there’s an emergency involving your kids, you can call someone.
Sleep is very important for children, and for their sake –and yours- they must have a good night’s sleep prior to going on a trip. If you’re leaving before lunch, allow the kids to eat inside the car to keep them occupied.
Another advantage is that after eating, toddlers usually go to sleep, giving you some peace and quiet. And while your child is sleeping, keep driving because the moment you stop he/she will wake.
Here are some tips when going on long car rides with kids:
- Take a break every two or three hours and stop. Kids can’t sit still for a much longer period
- Bring games or movies that the kids can watch to keep them occupied
- If they’re into reading, a good book is always an option
- Know where the tourist attractions, parks, eateries and other tourist spots are so you can stop there and let the kids have some fun. This will make the long journey more enjoyable for them.
To avoid spending too much time in a restaurant, bring along plenty of snacks like bagels, pretzels, sandwiches, bananas, cereals, potato chips and cookies. Avoid fruits for smaller kids as those tend to get messy, and yogurt treats require a spoon, but pack them in Bento LunchBoxes.
And steer clear from juice boxes because odds are the kids will make a mess in the backseat. If you’re not going to do these long road trips often, it’s okay to relax the rule against junk food.
Letting them indulge in some chocolate chips isn’t going to hurt, and having them enjoy those foods could translate into peace on the road.
Tips for Traveling with Kids on Train
Traveling by train doesn’t have to be a pain, and one of the ways you can make it enjoyable is to let your child’s curiosity run. If it’s their first time for kids to ride a train, let them savor the experience, check the tracks, the arrivals, departures, watching trains come and go and so on.
Also keep in mind that many train stations have colorful artwork displays that will keep kids entertained. During stop-offs, give the kids time to enjoy the surroundings.
During the train ride you may consider bringing along some simple games and toys to keep them occupied. A good pack of cards or a puzzle will do nicely as well. Puzzle and mind games are ideal on trains since many have tables where you can put the stuff on.
Here are other tips to make that train ride a more pleasurable experience:
- Limit the baggage you’re carrying, especially with kids’ entertainment. You don’t want them to get bored, but you also have to remember that you’re in a shared space with other passengers.
- Headphones are necessary, and for little kids, the over-the-head type is a better option. Just remind them the sound should not be set too loud (not good for the other passengers and their ears). If you don’t want young kids using a small music player that could get lost, just plug the headphone into a laptop so he/she can listen there.
- Toys and playthings should be small enough to pack inside a daypack. There’s no need to bring large toys, and the older ones will probably be too busy enjoying the scenery anyway. Encourage them to do so, and explain what they’re seeing as that will keep them occupied.
Tips for Traveling with Kids on Airplane
Preparing for a flight with kids doesn’t have to be any more involved than going out on a train or car. To avoid hassles, prepare a list of the items you have to bring (bearing in mind the airline rules and regulations) and have all your papers in order.
Prior to boarding:
- Double check the seating arrangements before you check in. If you’re traveling with a baby, ensure the bassinet has been reserved. If that’s not possible, sit as far back on the plane as possible so you’re near the bathroom, crucial when it comes to changing diapers.
- Ensure the kids are in shoes that are easy to get in and out of, but do ask security if it’s necessary because in some cases it isn’t. As you’re waiting for the flight, it’s okay to let the children walk around, as they’ll be doing a lot of sitting during the flight.
- Make sure all the kids use the bathroom prior to boarding. If you have a baby, change the diapers before boarding even if the diaper isn’t that dirty, as that will reduce the time you spend changing diapers in flight.
As for toys, it’s sufficient to just give some crayons for children so they can draw. Each child should have their own pack so there’s no fighting over the colors.
Of course you can give them other playthings, but avoid those that have lots of parts or those that require a lot of items to run. When on a plane, keep the toys simple and small, and usually a coloring book with crayons is enough to keep them happy.
And as mentioned above if your kids are into books, bring a few light ones or if they’re old enough, an ebook reader app so they can read to their hearts’ content.
During the takeoff and landing, the kids should have something to drink and the baby is nursing or drinking from a bottle. A good way to keep them distracted is to explain exactly what’s going on, and if they can see what’s happening in the window that’s even better.
Once the plane lands, let the other passengers get off first. When it’s your turn, double check and make sure everything is right there. Put the baby in the carrier so you can hold the other kids.
Conclusion: Traveling with kids can be quite the task even for parents that travel a lot, and you can never be sure how they’ll behave on the road. However the tips given here should make it easier for you.
All it really takes is a bit of preparation and everything should come out all right. Here are some ideas for finding a baby sitter while traveling