Traveling with Children Can Be Fun!November 11, 2019
Going on vacation? Exciting! Tough travel day? Awful. Any parent will tell you that the idea of a stressful travel day can make it hard to get excited about your upcoming family vacation. While some stress may be inevitable, we think it can be reduced with a few quick fixes. As we approach the holiday season we wanted to pass along our top tips from our parent and nanny-experts for traveling with kiddos. After all, traveling should be fun for everyone!
Everyone in the family should be as comfortable as possible. No need to add to travel stress with uncomfortable shoes or clothes. Also, kids in PJs at the airport are everyone’s favorite! If you need to dress to impress, you can always bring a change of clothes for arrival.
Bathroom breaks before you leave
This tip is time-tested (it’s my own mother’s number one tip!) and easy to accomplish. Bathroom breaks will be inevitable, but the beginning of the trip can be the most stressful part, so no need to add close-to-home bathroom stops!
Bored kids are cranky kids! One of the best ways to make travel fun for everyone is to keep the kids busy and occupied. Two moms I interviewed said their go-to strategy was to buy each child a new toy, but only give it to them as soon as the travel starts. For one mom this toy was a new book, and for another, it was a new app for their child’s iPad—both worked wonders! Experienced SmartSitter Kat. M recognizes the need to keep children entertained on long car or train rides, and she swears by tools for coloring, mess-free markers, sticker books, Etch A Sketches, pipe cleaner art, and magnets!
Kids like to carry their own bag!
Part of the stress of traveling with kids is that the parents get bogged down with kids’ suitcases! Nip this extra stressor in the bud by having children carry their own items, which helps them to feel involved in the process, gives them easier access to the things they want, and encourages independence. They don’t need to carry all of their things, but let them help you! Bonus points if their suitcase is super cute.
Get excited about your destination!
Another mom reported that bringing a book or toy related to the destination gets her kids excited about where they are going! She bought “This is New York” by Miroslav Sasek to read on the plane and it helped get her young ones excited about their New York vacation.
Play games that don’t need any tangible items!
We know that bringing a big bag of toys isn’t always an option, and one Dad we interviewed had the best solution for this! Their family plays collaborative story-telling games: one child picks the setting, one child picks the characters, and they’re off from there. Dad helps fill-in when the kids run out of ideas, but the back-and-forth keeps everyone entertained. Frequently on long train rides, SmartSitter Emily G. loves to do riddles with the school age children she cares for and it’s always a big hit! And of course, you can always look out the window!
This one is critical! Traveling can sometimes mean that your children’s favorite snacks are out of reach, and stressful travel days might not be the best time to try and introduce new food. We recommend your child’s favorite low-sugar snacks that will fill those tiny tummies without a sugar crash!
Make time to get some energy out!
It’s hard for adults to have long travel days—and even harder for kids! Sometimes the best thing to do is to just pull over at a rest stop and let everyone run around. My dad’s favorite way to get my siblings and me moving was to challenge us to a jumping jack competition before we got going again! Even a quick game of Duck, Duck, Goose in the corner of the boarding area can get those sillies out before having to sit for a long time again.
Have fun with it!
Everyone knows it’s hard to travel with kids. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that family vacations should be fun! One mom told us that she’s stopped trying to do everything on her own: “I just ask people to hold the door or if they can pick up the toy when we’re in line—people love a chance to interact with kids!” SmartSitter Gavin B. echoes this advice in reminding us all to be truthful with ourselves and how much we can handle.
Travel is a special time to enjoy yourself with your kids, so give yourself a break and try to enjoy it all. We’d love to follow along your travels, so make sure to tag SmartSitting in your Facebook and Instagram posts for us to see and share your posts on our channels. Want more travel tips for your family? Make sure you sign up for our newsletter for all the latest info coming from our team!