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8 Tips for Traveling with Kids

two kids wearing stripes looking out binoculars
by Jess Snader on February 26, 2021

Taking a vacation or trip always seems like a great way to get a break from the drag of everyday life. While this seems appealing, many families are hesitant to vacation when children are involved. Children can add an unexpected element but that shouldn't stop you from living your traveling dreams! We've laid out 8 tips to consider when traveling with children that will make your trip easier for you and them.

1.Go Slow

Two kids looking out the window at a plane

No matter what you do in life, it always takes longer than you'd expect. Planning for a little extra time for yourself isn't difficult, but it takes an extraordinary amount of time to do just about anything when children are involved. One of the most stressful places you have to navigate with your family is the airport. Checking in, getting through security, grabbing food, and boarding the place are all easier said than done.

Arriving at the airport early can give you a nice cushion of extra time in case things don't go exactly as you plan. After all, you don't want to be stressed and forgetting things as you rush through the airport only to be late for your flight anyway. Waiting around for your flight to be rescheduled is not something you or your kids will want to sit through.

Of course, going slow and planning for things to take twice as long as they should, could leave some down time, but that is preferable to missing things that you had planned. Having a flexible schedule will lead to less stress and a happier trip for everyone.

2.OUtline the Trip

Something you can do before you've even started packing is explain the trip to your kids. Sit everyone in the family down together and outline where you are going, what will happen, and what you will be doing. This gives kids a chance to ask questions up-front and know what to expect.

If kids are exposed to too many new things at once, they will become overloaded and not know how to act or what to do, which can be uncomfortable for everyone. When you have everyone together, you can go over what your expectations are for them. This could include things like how they should act in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel, or on tours. Just because children have this information, doesn't mean that they will be perfectly behaved the entire time. They will need reminded, but it can cut down on overall restlessness.

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3.Pack Snacks

child in car seat eating food

The only thing that can kill a fun, happy, trip in a matter of seconds is a hungry family member, especially if that family member is a child. Have snacks available as much as you can. The time between meals could unsuspectedly be extended by 30 minutes or even a couple hours. You don't want your kids cranky just because they are hungry. Snacks are helpful for getting through times such as these.

Snacks are also a great alternative if you family eats a restaurant and your child isn't the biggest fan of what they ordered. They may only eat a few bites, in which case, you will need to have snacks to hold them over later when they inevitably get hungry. Naturally, children aren't the only ones to get hangry so make sure you pack enough snacks for your kids, yourself and any adults you may also be traveling with.

4.Look for Children's Discounts

Children's discounts can be a life-saver, especially because taking a vacation with children tends to lean more on the expensive side. Many people are hesitant to ask for discounts, but they can be really beneficial to you. There are many places that can give you discounts for children such as transportation, guides, tours, restaurants, and attractions (like theme parks). 

If you're someone who doesn't want to call and ask, some places have children discounts listed on their website. That being said, just because there is no mention of a child discount, doesn't mean they don't have one. It is still beneficial to call or send an email, as the worst thing they can say is that they don't have one. More often than not, businesses are willing to give you discounts for your children, you just have to ask.

5.Give YOur Child Your Contact Info

In spite of your best efforts to always keep an eye on your child, they can get lost. To prepare for this, you'll want them to have your contact information. This would first and foremost include your name and phone number, but may also include your email and local address. For younger children, you could put a note in their pocket with this information or you could tie a tag to their pant loop or shoes, just make sure they know where it is.

Memorization is also an option for older children as well as putting the information in their phone, if they have one. No matter what, be sure that your children know what to do and who to contact if they get lost.

6.Bring DEvices and ToYs

family of five in car with book and tablet

When on long car rides or plane flights, you will definitely need something to keep yourself and your kids entertained. There are many different ways you can do this. Some parents bring along electronic devices while others bring along toys or cameras. It all depends on the age of your children.

Electronics come in handy when waiting in long lines or on a long flight or car ride. If you plan use electronics in this way, make sure you have plenty of episodes downloaded or apps that don't need Wi-Fi. In a plane, you won't get any Wi-Fi and you never know when you'll hit a dead zone in your car, leaving you with nothing to entertain your kids with.

Small toys are a great substitute when electronics aren't an option. You can either bring something old from home for a feeling of comfort, buy something new just for the trip, or stop and buy a souvenir at a shop. 

A camera is an interesting way to keep your kids attention. Not so much for car rides, but for your actual vacation. So long as your child is old enough, they can be given a camera; preferably a strong, durable, disposable one in case something were to happen to it. Having a camera can help a child see things from a different perspective and take-in everything around them. Then, once the vacation is over, they have photos to reflect on and remember the trip with.

7.Pack Medication

One of the worst things that can happen on a vacation is someone getting sick. To cope with this, you should consider packing a few over-the-counter medications that you might need. This would include headache medicines, allergy medicines, stomach medicines, and motion sickness medicines. Also, be sure to bring any specific prescription medicines you or someone in your family may need. You never know when something might happen.

8.Accept that Things will happen

Lastly, to have a successful vacation, you must accept that things will happen. Things are bound to go wrong. As said by Edward Murphy, anything that can go wrong, will. When traveling with kids, things will get messed up, no matter how much planning and work you do to prevent these things from happening. You have to take it in stride, and accept that even though something went wrong, it's not the end of your great family trip.

Now that you know all the greatest tips for traveling with kids, go and book your trip today! Everything might not go exactly how you expect, but it is worth it nonetheless. If you are looking for more tips on how to plan a family vacation, read our Family Road Trip Survival Guide