This past week, we took a mini-road trip to Charlotte, NC, where we visited with old friends, ate yummy food, and did some shopping. We don’t travel a lot because we have 2 small children, but when we do, it usually goes pretty well because we plan accordingly.
Tips for Traveling with Small Children.
Be Flexible and Take Your Time
Flexibility is essential. If you try to stick to a tight schedule, you will inevitably go crazy. Kids require extra time for everything. They have to potty more frequently, eat often, and be entertained. To prevent a total meltdown (parents included), it’s best to build flex time into your travel schedule.
Leaving extra time in your schedule is also more relaxing. When you don’t feel rushed, you are less stressed, and the kids will feel more relaxed.
Book a Hotel Suite or Vacation Home
Unless you like going to bed at 7:30 p.m. or sitting awake in the dark, you should get a hotel suite. Whenever possible, try to stay at hotels that have a room with separate living and bedroom areas. You can put the kids to bed and stay up late watching cable TV. A win for everyone! Accommodations with a small kitchen mean you can save money on eating out.
Pack Well, but Don’t Overpack
Little kids require a lot of stuff, but don’t over-pack. Make sure that you can easily carry all of your items, plus your child. Kids fall asleep or need to be carried, but if you’ve overpacked, you won’t have enough hands to take everything. A baby carrier is an excellent option for little ones who can’t walk well.
However, pack a few extra diapers and wipes, a change of clothes, and essentials just in an emergency. A diaper blowout with extra diapers or a sick kid without a change of clothes can make traveling miserable.
Prepare Your Kids
Explain to your kids what will be happening when you travel. Give them an outline of the trip to help them feel comfortable with the changes to their routine. It can be very overwhelming to kids when there are a lot of unexpected changes in their daily lives. When they know what to expect, they are more comfortable.
A hungry child is never pleasant to be around. Neither is a hungry adult. When on a road trip or flying, you may encounter delays and altered dining times, so pack your bag full of snacks, and you won’t regret it. Pack healthy yet fun snacks like yogurt-covered raisins, cereal bars, crackers, and trail mix.
Don’t forget the snack for the adults.
Pack Comfort Items
If your child has a favorite blanket, pacifier, or toy, be sure to bring it. Sleeping in a new place can be uncomfortable and scary, so lessen the impact by having familiar and favorite things on hand.
Pack extra comfort items if possible. Losing your only pacifier mid-trip can be stressful, especially since finding replacements may be difficult.
Make Time for Play
Little kids can only handle so much riding quietly in the car and sitting nicely at a restaurant table. Find fun things for your kids to do throughout the day. Stop at a local park. Swim in the hotel pool. Visit a local kids’ museum.
Pack Toys Wisely
You will want to bring a few toys for the car ride, but be mindful of what you pack. You don’t want something that will be loud and annoying or a toy with a million pieces. If your child uses a tablet bring headphones so they don’t annoy you or other passengers.
You may also want to pack a new toy for them to receive on your departure day. A new activity book or game will keep them entertained on long travel days.
Most importantly, when traveling with your family, you should aim to have a great time that will become fond memories for your kids. Things don’t always go as planned, and spending much time near your family can be stressful, but if you roll with the punches and alter plans accordingly, everyone should have a great time.
No matter how well we plan, we inevitably get lost, argue about where to eat, or have a toddler melt-down in public, but we try to quickly resolve our issues so we can get back to having fun.
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