It doesn’t matter if this is your first excursion with your little one or if you are a seasoned parent traveling with children. Hitting the road with the kids in tow can be difficult if you are not properly prepared for the unknown. As the summer vacations rev into full swing, you may find yourself wanting to take a day trip, go on a weekend getaway, or simply get away for a full week or more. Preparing yourself for travel with your children is imperative to the success of your trip.
10. DEALING WITH THE TSA
If you plan on flying to your vacation destination, you’ll need to prepare your child for his first airplane trip. This includes dealing with the TSA and the procedures you’ll go through at security. The TSA will never separate you from your child, but the experience can be overwhelming for the littlest traveler. If your child can walk, you will each be asked to walk through the metal detector separately. You can carry small children, but if the alarm sounds, the TSA agent will have to screen both of you.
9. PACK A SNUGGLY TOY
Young children almost always have a favorite snuggly toy or blanket. Do not, under any circumstances, forget to pack this item for your trip. Your child identifies with this item and usually has it with him during times of stress, or when he goes to sleep. Forgetting to pack the blanket or stuffed animal he always has in his life may prove detrimental. Your child will encounter plenty of unfamiliar situations while traveling. Make sure he always has something familiar in sight.
8. PACK SNACKS
No matter what age your children are, one thing is certain – they’ll eventually get hungry. When kids are bored, especially during car or flying time, they’ll look for either entertainment or food. Save yourself some time and money by packing your child or teen’s favorite snacks in your carry-on or close-kept luggage. Dried fruits, fruit snacks, trail mix, and even small packages of fresh veggies are usually huge hits. You might even pack a special sweet treat, like a favorite candy bar, to have as a special treat earlier in the day.
7. BRING A CAR SEAT
Are you taking a train or flying to get to your destination? If you have a young child, bring his or her car seat. The car seat will make the experience less stressful for both you and your child. You won’t have to worry as much about safety restraints, and your child will feel more at home in a chair he is familiar with. Make sure your child seat meets TSA guidelines if you plan on flying.
6. MAKE TIME FOR RELAXATION
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful and safe trip is to make sure each day has some time allotted for rest and relaxation. Kids can easily become overwhelmed, which can lead to crankiness and unpleasant situations. Make time for napping or even relaxing by the pool – something that doesn’t involve running around, stress, or waiting in long lines.
5. SET A BUDGET
We all know how much children love to shop – especially if they are in a strange place full of new and exciting toys and gadgets. Make sure you avoid breaking the bank by setting a daily budget for your child. If you’d like, you can even give your older children their own money to hold each day. Make sure they understand that they have a daily limit and that once the money is gone – it’s gone.
4. SCAN YOUR HOTEL ROOM
Are you staying in a hotel you are unfamiliar with? If you have babies or toddlers, make sure you carry a few outlet protectors to plug up the walls. Look around the room to make sure there are no loose wires, medications, or anything else your child might pull down on top of himself if he gets out of arms reach.
3. CELL PHONES & WALKIE TALKIES
Are you traveling with a pre-teen or teenager? If so, cell phones or walkie talkies are must-have accessories. If you get separated while exploring your destination you can easily contact each other and regroup. Be realistic. Your teens will have more fun if they have some alone time. Just make sure you have a little tether to keep yourselves connected.
2. COMFORTABLE CAR RIDES
Riding in a car, especially if you’re traveling for more than a few hours, can quickly become an unhappy experience as tired children begin to grow uncomfortable from sitting. Make sure you bring a few pillows and a couple of blankets. You won’t have to worry about the kids catching a chill from the open windows or air conditioners, or getting neck cramps, while they sleep part of the ride away.
1. CREATE EXCITEMENT
Make sure the kids are excited about their trip, whether you’re traveling by car, train, or airplane. The more excited they are, the better your time traveling will be. Start a countdown of days until you leave for your trip, let the kids help you research your destination and the things you’ll do, and help them to pack their own bags. The anticipation of planning will be just as much fun as the trip itself – and the excitement will help to alleviate any fears the kids may be feeling.
Traveling with children, regardless of their ages, can be an incredibly fun experience – especially if you plan parts of your trip in advance. Be prepared for the unknown and try to anticipate a few of the challenges you’ll encounter. You’ll have a great family vacation together, building memories that will last a lifetime!