19 November 2014

Tips For Traveling With Small Children

My kids and I go a ton of places together. Usually we take a lot of local trips, and just drive to our destination. Well, except for the 14 hour drive we make to Idaho every year, that's not exactly local. lol. But the recent trip we took to California was the first time that my entire family went on an airplane somewhere together. And although the flight is somewhat short from Seattle to L.A., I'll admit that I was pretty nervous for the plane ride. You just never know what you're going to get with small kids. How will they handle the airport, going through security? Will they freak out on the airplane? What will do we do entertain them? What if the pressure bothers their ears? What if my oldest won't use the tiny bathroom on the plane? So many variables. Traveling can be stressful for an adult, so I was trying to prepare myself for what it would be like with my 4 & 2 year olds.

Along the way, I was jotting down some things I learned that I thought I would pass on to you.  :-)

ONE | Prepare and excite them beforehand
I found that talking a lot about our upcoming trip and preparing the kids to go on the airplane, was really fun for them. I printed out a calendar and drew an airplane on the day we were going to leave, then we crossed the days off as they passed. It built up quite a bit excitement and anticipation, so when it came time to actually go, they were just so excited and happy, they didn't even think to misbehave.

TWO | Get ID Bracelets for them
This is HUGE. At least it was for me. Kids have tendencies to wander and explore. And in crowded places like airports, parking lots, or theme parks, I feel like the fear of them getting lost brings on a lot of anxiety, which in turn makes traveling with them super stressful. I got a couple of ID bracelets for my kids from Road ID, and I was super happy with them. Obviously, they wouldn't prevent my kids from wandering off, but it gave me a little peace of mind that if they did get lost, all of my info would be on the bracelet.

THREE | Pack tons of snacks
This is a given, I think. But I would suggest packing things that they only get on special occasions. Pack things that are easy for them to eat and that won't be super messy. Also, this goes with #1, but take them shopping with you for their "travel snacks." Involving them in the process will help them to get prepared for the trip.

FOUR | Let them carry their own backpack
I had a backpack for each of my kids, and we loaded it up with their special travel snacks and a few other things (toys, diapers... etc). The fact that they got to carry their own bag and be in charge of it, helped them to feel a little more in control. And I strongly feel that this is one of the reasons they did so well traveling on our trip.

FIVE | Load up on kids apps and shows
iPads, iPhones, Laptops... they will be your best friend while traveling! Search for some new, fun apps for them to try out while you're at the airport or on the plane. Load some movies or shows up for them and you'll be golden!

SIX | Make a big deal of the small things
Whether it's a cab ride, shuttle ride, train ride, or just staring out the window at the airport watching the planes take off.... make it a fun and exciting learning experience. Talk to them about the various jobs people have to help facilitate your travel. TSA agents, Gate employees, the Pilot... etc. Keep them interested and get excited with them! Our kids thought that the shuttle ride over to the airport was the coolest thing ever, because we really talked it up!

SEVEN | Lower your Expectations
This is SO important. Traveling can be really overwhelming for some kids. There are lot of crowds, lines, and things to keep track of. If you expect your kids to be perfectly well behaved, you will find yourself stressed out and overwhelmed. Prepare yourself mentally, and have realistic expectations of our kids. The entire experience will be so much more delightful.

SEVEN | Give them some space
This one is really hard to do with little kids, but it's imperative. Obviously, keep them close and always keep an eye on them, but try not to crowd your kids. It will annoy them and stress them out, and they'll likely have more meltdowns. Give them a little room to breath. And by all means, let them be little. Let them giggle, play and run if they need to. I mean, it goes without saying that you need to be mindful of other travelers, but if your kids are happy, most likely, they'll be happy.

This advise isn't necessarily going to guarantee you stress-free travels, but I hope they help a little bit!!

What would you add to this list??


Kristine@thefoleyfam said...

Amen to all the above! We've been so blessed to travel with our littles, and these are all great tips!

Deidre Miller said...

BRILLIANT! Once a long time ago I wrote out my travel tips and someone asked what tips I had for kids but I didn't have any kids so I didn't have any kid travel tips! Your post will now be my go to direction for those people.

Kendall Radenbaugh said...

These are great tips! I don't have any kids yet but I definitely feel like this could be helpful when I am traveling with other people's little ones or even with my parents to some degree. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Looks like they had a great time!

Taneja's Bride said...

Great tips! I will definitely be bookmarking this for our little trips! <3

debi said...

We're going on a trip tomorrow so perfect timing. Thanks for the tips!

www.thatmamajama.com said...

This is really great! I traveled with an infant for the first time this year, and it wasn't easy even THEN! Now that he's already growing up so fast, I can only imagine how much harder it must get as time goes by. I will save this for my next attempt!

Karissa Ancell said...

These are great tips, My daughter has been traveling since she was little to visit and on trips with her grandparents. She is a good little traveler. Better than me.

Anonymous said...

I think this advice is AWESOME! I have definitely found all of these to work in our favor on every trip we've been on with my 3 year old since she was born! I love the id bracelet idea too though, now that she's old enough to wander off I think i'll need that one! Thanks for sharing!

Stacy Bolton said...

I have to admit this always makes me SO nervous- I could just imagine myself stuck mid flight with a screaming baby that will not stop for nothing LOL These ideas are great and I am going to keep this bookmarked so that when I decide to try it, I will be prepared LOL

Lani Derrick said...

Great list! I pinned it for later when my little is a bit older. I love the ID bracelets!

Ashley @ Hello nature said...

Great tips! Saving these for when we travel with my nephews and nieces or when we have kids. Love the ID bracelets!

Anonymous said...

I say this all the time, but your kiddos are adorable! I love the idea of the bracelets because I panic when I can't find my siblings and they're all teenagers, so i can imagine how bad it'll be with my own kids!