Family Travel Tips

By: Susan Heid

We are in the midst of the travel season – and if you are a mom trying to travel with little ones it can be extremely stressful.  Your blood pressure can start to rise as you think of long car rides and cross country flights with your kids.

Vacations should be a time of enjoyment, relaxation and memory making – but traveling with kids is one of the biggest stressors moms face and a stressed out mom can created memories for sure – but they are not the ‘fond’ memories you want your kids to remember!

Let me share a few tips that I have gathered over the years of traveling with my kids.  Not only have I flown with little ones and survived long car rides, I have nearly 20 years under my belt as a former flight attendant and know the best bets for air travel with kids.

Attitude is everything

If you expect some drama to unfold during your trip, then your mind will already be prepared for it.  When we envision these perfect trips where everyone cooperates all the time and occupies themselves for 8 hours we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Expect the unexpected problems go with the flow and try to keep positive – your example will certainly frame the outcome of any situation.  When you get stressed out because your flight is delayed 2 hours or your hotel reservation cannot be found you can bet your kids will sense that and run with that, only adding to the mix.  Remember everything will work out in the end and just try to remain calm.

Baby Wipes are Your Best Friend

Never, I mean never leave home without baby wipes!  Even if your kids are well out of diapers these are invaluable when traveling!  Cleaning up spills, dabbing spots on clothing, and wiping sticky fingers they are a life saver.  Finding ones that disinfect are even better – wiping airplane armrests, toilet seats, the table in the food court or even the felt tip marker from the tray table.

Easy Access to a Change of Clothes

For younger children it is always a good idea to keep a change of clothes in easy access.  Whether traveling by air or car, pack a change of clothes for your children that can be accessed without unloading the trunk of the car or waiting for your bags to arrive at baggage claim. 

 Activity Surprise Bags 

When my kids were younger I started a tradition of making little “snack/activity” bags for each of them.  I use a gallon size zip-loc bag and find snacks, word search books, and different little toys from the dollar store.  My kids really looked forward to getting these bags the morning of our travel to place in their carry-on backpacks.  They didn’t get to open them until we were on the plane, but they loved looking through the clear zip-loc plastic and searching to see what was inside.  If you are not the type of “do it yourself mom” there is a company called TravelKiddy that actually has these types of bags already put together for you! 

 Choose toys wisely

For airplane travel do not bring:  play-dough, coloring markers, toys with lots of small parts, or your portable DVD player WITHOUT personal headphones.  Do not subject the cleaning crew to pick off ground in play-dough out of seats or subject other passengers to listen to “Toy Story 3” when they would rather sleep.  Be careful choosing toys even for car travel, the cleaning crew who would have to clean play-dough off the floor would be you.

 Music & Audio Books

Depending on the age of your children you might be surprised at how engaged they will become when listening to their own music or perhaps an audio book.  You can find inexpensive MP3 players for little ones and download fun music for them to enjoy or an audio book, or get a cassette player with headsets at Wal-Mart for $5.00!  Find cassette storybooks and you are set.   Check your local library for cassette books and audio books.. 

Have a screamer with ear pain in flight?  Spend $4 and pick up a pair of these. They are hollow screw type inserts that go in the ear when you get on the plane….each pair lasts for a round trip. They keep the ear open no popping or pain.

A sturdy nightlight

Whether you are staying in a strange hotel or with a relative, the environment will be different.  To ease your children’s apprehension in a strange environment, pack a small 7 watt nightlight to shed light and ease fears.  It will even help you when you have to get up in the middle of the night.
If you have flight plans in your future make sure you check out the TSA’s site giving you tips for traveling with kids.

By planning ahead and being prepared for the unexpected you can make traveling with your kids an enjoyable experience.

What is your best tip for traveling with your kids?

Susan Heid is the mom behind The Confident Mom where she loves inspiring Christian moms to make small changes managing their home and family life giving them more time, less stress and stronger family relationships! She enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom and foster mom to 4 awesome kids – ages 18, 14, 10 and 17 months; is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.

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