Tips for Traveling with Kids
Traveling with children can seem daunting but don’t let kids stop you from having an amazing vacation. If you are used to traveling without kids it can seem stressful to plan a trip around your child’s schedule and needs. However, if you take these tips into consideration when planning your trip you will soon learn that traveling with kids is amazing.
Being prepared is one of the best things you can do to prepare for any time but it’s even more important when traveling with kids. When you are prepared you can adjust expectations, save time and money as well as reduce your stress level.
These tips will help you plan the ultimate family vacation and make traveling with kids a breeze.
You may think you should wait until your child gets older before you travel but don’t. There are many benefits to traveling with young children, of course, they may not remember the trip but you will remember how special it was to take them on the journey.
Babies and toddlers are often much less expensive when traveling. A lot of destinations offer free admission for babies and toddlers. If you are taking a short flight your baby may be able to fly in your lap, which will save you money.
Plus, the more you are able to travel the more your children will have experience and become better travelers. They will get to experience different places and cultures and have opportunities they might not get at home.
Adjust your expectation
Before you even plan a trip with kids you need to adjust your expectations. When you travel with more people than just yourself or one other person you have to take into consideration the needs of others. Small children need a lot of assistance with everyday life.
Traveling with kids can be a lot of fun if you plan accordingly. Plan to visit locations that may interest your kids like theme parks, interactive museums, animals, or historic sites with kid-friendly tours. Expecting kids to enjoy a 3-hour tour of a historic site or winery visit may be too ambitious. Instead, try a quick stop at a family-friendly winery or a short guided tour designed for families.
You don’t have to sacrifice the things you want to do if you adjust your expectations and adjust your plans to fit your family’s needs.
Along with adjusting your expectations about what you will do on your trip, adjust your timeline. Kids move slowly and it takes much longer to do things with kids. Allow more time on travel days for unexpected delays, potty breaks, or meltdowns.
Build in extra time for breaks. Kids get tired and may still need to nap or go to bed early. Plan your schedule to include some downtime. It’s OK to slow down and enjoy the leisurely pace of children. You may just find that a slower-paced vacation is your new favorite vacation.
If your child is old enough to talk you should let them know ahead of time about the trip. When kids know what to expect you will find they are more relaxed. However, unless you want to talk about your trip for the next month, wait until a day or two before your trip to tell them.
When kids know that their routine will be changing it gives them time to adjust to the new schedule. It can be hard for kids to be thrown into a new environment and be expected to maintain their happy disposition. By giving them a brief explanation of what is going to happen they will be less stressed.
If you have older kids traveling you may want to involve them in the planning process. Allow them to choose an attraction or destination that they really want to visit while traveling. Getting kids involved helps them to get excited about the trip and lets them feel a part of the experience.
When traveling with kids it’s good to make a plan and book as many things in advance. You often get better deals on hotels, flights, and attractions if you book far enough in advance. If you plan to visit a popular destination you may miss out on special offers if you try to wait until the last minute.
Preparing for your family trip by creating a rough outline of activities and booking reservations ahead of time makes the trip more relaxing. If you want flexibility in your schedule to be spontaneous allow for free time throughout your trip. However, don’t expect that popular restaurants, attractions, or accommodations will have last-minute availability. If there is something you really want to do, plan for it.
If you want to be extra organized you can create a spreadsheet for your trip, like this Disney World Planning Spreadsheet.
Don’t overpack. It can be tempting to pack everything you think you may ever need, but chances are you won’t have the time to use most of it. Kids do come with a lot of stuff but try to limit your packing to the essentials.
If you choose to stay in a vacation rental you may have access to laundry, even some hotels offer laundry services. Pack layers in your suitcase in case of unexpected weather changes. Ensure you bring a few comfort items for your child as sleeping in a new place can be scary. So pack their lovey, pacifier, or favorite toy.
Bring food with you wherever you go. You never know when you will be able to find a place to eat and kids get very cranky when they are hungry. Pack snacks for your travel day and any excursion you may take during your travels.
Keep a few extra snacks in your bag in case you get stuck somewhere that doesn’t have food, especially if you have picky eaters.
Bring along your child’s tablet, if only for travel days. Long flights or layovers can be very boring for kids that are required to sit still for long periods of time. Let them watch their favorite show or play a game while they have to wait.
Pack a few screen-free activities like coloring books, cars, or dolls that can be easily stored in your carry-on bag. These are toys are not only great for travel days but will keep your child entertained during downtime at the hotel.
You may want to pack a new toy they will receive on travel day. The newness of the toy or activity book may keep them entertained more than a toy they play with regularly.
Give Kids A Camera
See the trip through the eyes of your child. Let them bring a child-friendly camera on your next vacation. It’s a great way for them to engage with a new location if they are taking pictures. It also helps children to slow down and enjoy the view when often kids want to constantly be on the run.
Plan for the Unexpected
Things will not go as planned. You can almost guarantee that something will go awry on your trip. Plan for things to not go the way you want. If you are planning an outdoor activity, the weather may not be cooperative so have a backup plan. Sometimes may get sick, pack medicine and know how to contact a doctor when traveling. Teach older children your phone number or give them their own phone or smartwatch, so you can always stay connected.
Consider purchasing an identification bracelet for younger children if you are going to a location where you may get separated. If you get separated from your child it’s good to know that a responsible adult will be able to contact you.
Leave Room for Spontenatiey
While it is important to plan ahead, it’s equally important to go with the flow. Sometimes kids just aren’t in the mood for your planned activity and you need to shift gears. You may find that being flexible and doing something spontaneous may just be your favorite part of your trip.
Maybe the shortcut you take through the park leads you into a family-friendly festival that features your child’s favorite character. Unless you have a nonrefundable reservation it might be best to change your plans and enjoy the unplanned activity.
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