Planning summer travels with your family? Make your trip as smooth and as fun as possible for parents and children alike with these 10 travel tips.
10 Tips for Traveling with Kids
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
There's nothing worse than rushing, except maybe, rushing with toddlers in tow. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, pack the car, or leave the house. Kids usually don't react well to time pressure during travel so everyone is more likely to stay calm and cool if you leave time for things like bathroom breaks, naps and tantrums.
2. Do your research
What visas do you need? Are your passports still valid? Are there any vaccinations required or recommended for your destination? Avoid last minute travel fiascos by planning ahead and doing plenty of research on your destination. Even if you're not leaving the country, you'll want to research stops for a long car ride and pack appropriately for the weather.
3. Plan family friendly activities, but don't go overboard
While you're doing your pre-trip research, you'll want to plan activities that the whole family will love. It's important to keep your children entertained, but don't go overboard with planning every single minute of your trip. You'll want to be prepared, but flexible and keep in mind that often time, activities and travel take longer than expected when you're traveling with children.
In addition to a list of activities at your destination, you'll want to plan a few games or activities that can keep kids entertained in case of delays at the airport or train station or a long traffic jam on the road.
4. Beat Jet Lag
Traveling out of the country and into a new time zone? Parents and kids are susceptible to the woes of jet lag but there are a few ways you can help beat it and get some much needed rest. Stay active during your trip and step out into the sunlight. Resist the urge to spend your entire trip sleeping and try to adjust your mealtimes and sleep schedules to the new time zone. When your kids do sleep, try to do the same. Otherwise you may be up all day and all night when your kids give you a 2AM wake up call.
5. Pack Medicine
While you should be able to find most medical essentials while traveling, it's much easier to carry around a small first aid kit with things like bandages, antihistamines, painkillers, or other medicines your family might need on your trip. This will save you time and stress knowing you have all your familiar medicines on hand just in case. Be sure to also pack any required medicines like prescriptions or antimalarials.
6. Document the journey
Take lots of photographs and if your kids are old enough, encourage them to do the same! You can also give them a small travel journal to draw or write about things they see during your trip. It's also the perfect place to tuck mementos like ticket stubs or postcards.
7. Stay safe
Make sure you have the numbers for emergency services on hand in case something should happen during your trip. Depending on your nationality, you may also want to register your overseas travel with the local embassy or consulate of the country you are traveling to. Another big safety reminder is to always travel with children in the proper car seats or booster seats. This may mean packing your own or renting one at your destination, but remember that dangerous car accidents can happen even at slow speeds and the perks of carrying less baggage are never worth the risks of a baby traveling without a car seat.
8. Let the kids help pack
You'll want to do the majority of the packing for your trip to make sure nothing important gets left behind and that everyone is dressed appropriately. However, involving kids in the packing stage can ensure they have a few items they'd like to keep themselves entertained during the trip and also helps get them excited about upcoming travels.
9. Pack snacks
Avoid hungry, grumpy kids. Pack your own snacks. This will save you stress during delays and in case your child is completely unwilling to try something new at meal time.
10. Have fun!
You want to make sure that your kids have a great time, but don't forget about yourself! Stay calm, flexible, and remember that the journey is part of your adventure.