I am in the midst of preparing for our family vacation that includes an 8 hour flight so I thought I’d take a minute and share a few tips about traveling with little ones.
My family LOVES to travel and we especially love road trips. That’s when we are at our best. My husband and I traveled all the time before having kids and we made a conscious decision not to stop when we had our first child. We doubled down on this decision when we had our second – our kids are three years apart so waiting for the little one to be “big enough” wasn’t an option. After a few years, we’ve developed a routine that works well for us.
A few days before our trip stop letting the kids watch tv or have fun snacks. That way they are really excited when they are allowed to have gummies and screen time in the car or on the plane. Remember, all you are trying to do is buy yourself some time. And on an airplane, e-v-e-r-y m-i-n-u-t-e c-o-u-n-t-s! As we deprive them of those simple pleasures for a few days, we dial up the physical activity. Get a lot of pent up energy out!
When travelling with diaper babies (especially flying) I prepare mini changing kits. This means several individual gallon size bags stocked with a disposable changing mat, a diaper, a mini Ziploc with few wipes and cream if you use it. That way, when you need to change a diaper quickly or in a tight space, all you need to do is pull one of those kits from your small bag and change your baby. Stuff used diaper, wipes etc in the Ziploc bag for an easy disposal. I know it’s not very environmentally friendly, but it’s a one-off and truly a life saver.
For road trips I have a box filled with art supplies (paper, crayons, sticker books, Crayola magic markers), books, mazes, wiki stix, travel bingo and of course a map for the “license plate game”. (We still haven’t found all 50 states on a trip!)
On long trips, my pro tip is not to reveal all your cards immediately. Keep a few tricks in your back pocket. Last summer, I waited for a long time before I brought up a baggie of fruit loops and couple new shoe laces. My then-3-year-old spent about an hour (60 precious minutes of quiet!) stringing the snack on and then eating it. She couldn’t believe she was allowed to put on as many a she wanted 🙂
One trick I just learned from a friend (who drives with her 4 kids aged 7 and under from TX to NY) is she pins a picture of each of her kids on the sunshield and if their picture hasn’t been removed because of undesirable behavior they get to pick a snack at the next stop. Genius. You bet I am printing and laminating my kids’ precious little faces for our next 17 hour drive to Florida.
Yes, travelling with littles can be stressful and exhausting, but it’s so rewarding! Don’t wait for “when they are older”, “when it’s easier”, “when they remember it”, or “maybe next year…”. The look of wonder and excitement on their squishy little faces is so worth it. They might not remember the trip 10 or 20 years from now, or even next year if they’re really small, but watching them discovering new sights, smells and sounds is priceless.