Anyone who has traveled with kids, knows that being prepared makes traveling with kids so much more pleasant. Here are a few simple and basic things to keep in mind when making your plans. Hopefully, these will make the journey less stressful and hopefully enjoyable for all family members.
Slow down the pace
In my opinion, once you have kids, travel changes. Trips involving younger family members need to be taken a little more slowly as frequent pit stops may be needed along the way. A road trip, for example, should be planned with the location of rest rooms as well as picnic areas in mind. Remember, you are on vacation. Sometimes, it's best to set low expectations, just go with the flow and relax.
Some vacation packages involve fairly long journeys, including by plane, and it pays to think ahead about keeping the kids amused en route. Electronic toys may not be usable during the entire flight, but good old-fashioned coloring books, or sheets and a few bright pencils, for example, can provide a great diversion. Lots of websites provide access to free downloads of pictures for coloring. A small toy plane, sticker books, and story books also help to make time fly while in the air.
Think about eating and sleeping
Bringing extra snacks and drinks are a must, even if meals are planned into a journey. I always try to bring low sugar snacks that won’t make too much of a mess. But, ultimately, I'm a little more flexible when it comes to food-on-the-go. If potato chips will keep my kids quiet on the plane, that's what they're getting! For little ones, packing extra pre-prepared bottles, pacifiers, bottle nipples and teething toys also makes life easier. Every mom knows that having a carry-on bag with the right equipment is essential.
If a baby or toddler has a favorite soft toy to cuddle before sleeping, make sure it’s included when packing. Depending on the journey, a stroller makes for a useful place for a child to nap and there are plenty of lightweight varieties that are not overly bulky.
Keep kids safe
There are so many cool products to keep kids safe while traveling. When traveling by air, unaccompanied minors usually wear identity tags – airlines sometimes provide a button, pin or a baseball cap. When accompanying kids on a journey that might involve several different stages, it’s a good idea to use the same techniques to make sure they can be quickly and easily identified in a crowd. I have never used a child monitor, but they provide extra security and will sound an alarm if a child wanders out of a preset range. The child wears a specially designed bracelet or watch and the adult’s small monitor contains a linked tracking device. Another low cost alternative are SafetyTats, which are personalized tattoos that your kids can wear when you're on the go.
If you have a child who suffers from allergies or travel sickness, don't forget your epi-pen or medication. Children with any specific medical conditions should always carry medical details – a card stating their allergy, for instance, or a bracelet with essential information about their condition. Overseas travel may require vaccination and it is always useful to take a note of the blood groups of family members, including children, in the event of an emergency.
Over the years, traveling with kids has gotten so much easier for my family. We're finally done with the diapers, strollers and naps which has made our vacations a lot more enjoyable. And, you know what that means, more reasons to travel!
What's your favorite tip for traveling with kids?