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Have Kids, Will Travel: 5 Tips for Parents

kids travelWe will be gathering up our kids and traveling across the country for our third summer in a row this year. We have been blessed to make summertime trips a tradition in recent years, and have experienced a lot of highs and lows along the way.

Here’s what I’ve learned about traveling with children:

1) There is a time and a place for electronics, and it’s during long trips. Whether you’re in a car or on a plane, trips are a great time to make an exception to rules about limiting screen time, and let the kids indulge in games and videos during your journey to and from your destination. It will make for a much more peaceful car ride/flight for EVERYONE. Don’t forget the charger(s)!

2) Pack A LOT of snacks. More snacks than you think you need. Food can help curb tantrums caused by dropping blood sugar, keep kids busy during travel, and quiet little complaining mouths. 😉 Sliced apples, raisins, trail mix, granola bars, cereal, Gogurt, cheese sticks, and dried fruits are great snacks to enjoy on the go. And a sub-tip…bring an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up at the water fountain inside the terminal instead of paying $5 each for a plastic bottle of water.

3) Rent a house or apartment instead of booking a hotel. Trying to relax after a long day of tourism and play is a lot less fun when you and your children are all occupying the same room and they go to sleep before the sun sets. Renting out a house or apartment on a website like AirBNB can often get you more space for the same amount of money you’d spend on a hotel. It also creates opportunities for cooking some or all meals at “home” if you are the parent of picky eaters who doesn’t want to drop $12 a head on restaurant meals that the kids will dislike and throw away. Many rentals also have a washer and dryer on site. Be sure to read lots of reviews, look at photos, go over the list of policies and amenities, and ask questions before booking.

4) Pack less and find a washer. If you’re able to access laundry facilities during your trip, pack for half a week and wash clothes while you’re there. It will leave a lot more room in your suitcase and lighten your load in the bulky ordeal that is travel with children.

5) Lower your expectations…of yourself, your partner, and your kiddos. Between jetlag, new settings, extra stress, and unfamiliar food, everyone is likely to be thrown off their game. Create extra wiggle room with rules and schedules to take some pressure off. Know that you are not responsible for ensuring that everyone has a great time…and it’s impossible to promise emotional outcomes for another person. Do your best to create fun, downtime, and memories, and know that the hiccups along the way will be funny stories that your family can share a laugh about later.

Bon voyage!

– Nikki Shaheed CCE(BFW) CD(DONA)

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