Traveling with children

Kristen Winiarski

Traveling with kids sounds stressful, but with the proper preparation, it doesn’t have to be! There are ways to alleviate travel anxiety and enjoy your getaways. It all starts with planning ahead, anticipating challenges, and not sweating the small stuff. Let’s get into it. 

Get them involved in planning

Who doesn’t love planning a fun vacation? Including your kids in planning will help them feel included and get them excited about this new adventure! Plus, they may offer new ideas you hadn’t even thought of and it’ll give them something to talk about while en route. 

Anticipate triggers

There are some triggers that are almost certain to cause a meltdown: boredom, hunger, tiredness, and uncomfortable temperature. To avoid these problems, have your child pick an activity to stave off boredom, pack snacks and water, plan for rest time, and find ways to cool down. Essentially anticipate their triggers before they happen so you can be prepared. 

Don’t plan too much

Kids tend to live in the moment and want to enjoy as much of one activity as they can. Instead of rushing to fit in as many experiences as possible into the day, try to give them a bit more time if they’re really enjoying something. Taking time to slow down can also help make it an even more relaxing vacation for you.

Let them choose between activities

Offer your kids specific options to choose from when it comes to activities. Giving them free rein or asking vague questions can be confusing. Instead, narrow down their options. Once they choose something, they’ll feel ownership over the activity and be more excited to participate.  

Consider motion sickness

This was a much bigger issue when my kids were under five. I myself had severe motion sickness throughout my childhood, and even now I experience it sometimes (no, we don’t all grow out of it!). If your kids tend to get car or plane sick, there are some things you can do to help. 

First, talk to your healthcare provider about dramamine. Dramamine can help curb nausea but may make your kiddo a bit drowsy. Second, don’t let them read in the car since it can make that rocky feeling way worse. Instead, find an interesting audiobook or have them look out the window. Third, though it may seem a bit counterintuitive, make sure that they eat before you leave. Traveling on an empty stomach can make motion sickness worse.

Bring books, puzzles, and a tablet (if you have one)  

While traveling or on vacation, there will be some downtime (we hope!). But kids with lots of energy may not enjoy downtime as much as adults. Be sure to bring a few of their favorite books and puzzles to keep them busy and engaged. 

If you’re traveling by plane, you may want to pack a notebook and some crayons for something to do at the airport. A tablet or sticker book can also be helpful. 

Let them document the trip

Grab an old cell phone or digital camera and let your child document the trip their way. You may be surprised at the moments they capture when they’re behind the camera. 

Don’t forget bedtime stuff

Kids need routine — and traveling by definition shakes up their routine. Think about the parts of their wind down and bedtime routine that you can continue to do away from home. For example, it might help to pack a special stuffed animal, pillow, or music box. Having these comforts of home will make it easier for your child to fall asleep when they’re somewhere new.

Even though traveling with kids can be stressful, it can also be a lot of fun. You’ll get to create special moments together that you’ll always remember, making the trip well worth it!

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