As a parent, you probably understand the chaos of traveling with young children. If you’re a parent who has ever had to travel ALONE with young children, I totally commiserate with you. This past Christmas, I found myself traveling by myself to visit my aunt and uncle in Colorado with five children. Yikes! The hubs had to work, so it became a solo voyage for me and my 5 kids aged 3-9. The entire experience as a parent traveling alone was quite a valuable lesson for me with tons of ups and downs. The ups were wonderful, but the downs were some serious downs—graphic, unappetizing downs. Despite the hassle, we made it there in one piece and I’m delighted to let you know that I’m still married. The other good news is that this trip didn’t ruin the idea of vacationing with my kids for me. Woohoo! So with this all behind me, there were some valuable tips for traveling with kids that I learned.
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What are some good family travel tips to keep in mind?
Traveling with children is a challenge, but there are a few things that you can do in advance to make the process a little less of a hassle. If you’re flying with kids, it might be worth your while to bring a booster seat for younger and smaller children. Sure, it might be a hassle to get it on the plane, but it can really help with keeping your child in their seat. Without a booster seat, my 3-year-old was able to slip in and out of her seatbelt and run down the aisles. Not good. With a booster seat, she’s nice and secure, and mommy doesn’t have to worry about her annoying fellow passengers (other than by kicking the back of their seats, which I can’t do much to prevent… all I can do is apologize!).
As far as activities are concerned, I can’t rave enough about sticker books and coloring books. These aren’t just like ordinary books that they can read in five minutes and be done with. My children adore these and they will sit there for hours just sticking and re-sticking stickers in their book. I love it because they can also be really educational, and it’s a good sensory object for the younger kiddies. My boys prefer sticker books that are based on Star Wars and John Deere type of things, and my girls are content with princess-themed sticker books. There’s a huge variety on the market, so I’m sure you could find something that would interest your child!
I also found that bringing a ton of snacks is HUGE for keeping your kids content. One of the mistakes that I used to make while traveling was overfeeding my children to keep them from getting fussy. Be wary of this because children WILL get sick if you feed them heavy, bready snacks to placate them. I learned this the hard way on the way home from Colorado with my eldest daughter. From now on, I’ll be sticking to mostly light snacks. I’m talking 12 light sandwiches for the entire trip (for 5 kids), bananas, biscuits-which would be more like their “meals”-and really light snacks like crackers, cheese sticks and maybe even a little bit of candy. My pediatrician even recommended lollipops, which are a great treat for the kids and light enough to not upset their stomach.
Also, bring plenty of supplies such as Ziploc bags, a change of clothes (maybe two for younger children), diapers and even a hospital burp cloth. Children WILL get sick, and they WILL poop in their pants, and all you can do is be prepared. I brought two hospital burp clothes with me, and what do you know, they saved me TWICE—once when my daughter vomited, and another time when my other daughter had a bit of a poop accident. It’s not pleasant, but it happens, and burp clothes work wonders with cleaning up. You can watch my other video on hospital burp clothes to see how miraculous they truly are!
Finally, expect temper tantrums. When you worry about what other passengers are thinking during the trip, it will consume you. I’ve learned to take that worry and let it go, because as long as you’re apologetic, that’s all you can really do! I adore my 3-year-old, Marielle, but she can be a bit of a screamer and a seat-kicker. It’s frustrating, but as long as you apologize and explain that you’re doing everything you can, most passengers will understand. If not, try to let it roll of and remember that you’ll never see these people again!
I hope these tips will help you the next time you travel with your kids! For a little bit of extra help, I made a smaller printable checklist for traveling with kids based on items that I mentioned in the video.