Traveling is one of the best ways to experience the world. Whether it’s by train, plane, or car, exploring what the world has to offer highly impacts lives of all ages.
Couples typically try to get all of their traveling in before they have kids. It allows a bit more freedom and flexibility. Once they begin having kids, though, traveling becomes a bit more challenging. However, this doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t take their kids on a trip with them.
Kids love spending time with their parents and siblings. It’s a chance for them to grow and ask questions and learn more about the world around them. In the end, parents can feel accomplished and proud that they could make a trip work out, even when traveling with kids.
For parents who are new to traveling with extra bodies in tow, here are six tips for traveling with kids.
1. Plan Extra Time
There will be hold-ups when traveling with children. Parents will need to plan extra time, whether they need a potty break, snacks, time for a temper tantrum, or a need to find the toy their child dropped in the airport. Typically, adults can maneuver through an airport in minutes or drive hours without stopping, but little bodies can’t handle that in a short amount of time.
If the trip involves flying, arrive at the airport early. If driving, leave earlier than expected or have the hotel check-in later in the day. Additionally, space out the itinerary for the trip. Kids might not be able to visit four museums in one day or hike a six-mile trail in a national park.
2. Explain the Trip
Kids who are first-time travelers may feel overwhelmed with an upcoming trip. When kids feel uncomfortable or can’t fully understand the situation, they’re unhappy. Children do best with routines and schedules, and trips can alter those drastically.
Parents should take the time to explain the trip to their kids. Going over the schedule or brief outline of the journey can take some of the confusion and uncertainties out of it. They’ll know what they can expect and will be more comfortable overall, which means they’ll have a better time during the trip.
3. Only Pack Essentials
Families sometimes overpack. Kids use many things at home, and it can be easy for parents to pack all of those items, including toys, toiletries, certain clothes and other things their kids use daily. However, when traveling, it’s best to pack as light as possible. Parents will likely have to carry all of the luggage and a child or two by the end of the day.
Packing as little as possible will save a lot of complaints and backaches. Traveling in itself alters home routines, so kids won’t need their naptime blanket, entire toy box and the whole pantry. When traveling, there are usually stores or other parents who can provide a required item.
4. Keep Plenty of Snacks on Hand
Parents know that kids need their snacks. Without snacks, kids become hangry quickly, which can leave them and their parents feeling miserable. Plus, with vacations, the times between meals could extend, which means kids will be even more hungry between regular meal times.
Keeping snacks on hand ensures your kids stay full and satisfied.
Another good reason to pack snacks when traveling is because the food at the destination may differ from what the kids are used to eating. A kid may order a meal and then not like it. Instead of spending more money on a new meal, parents can hand out snacks and extra food.
5. Ask About Child Discounts
Traveling with kids is going to cost extra. There are extra mouths to feed and more people to purchase souvenirs. Fortunately, parents can take advantage of child discounts. Not every place will have them, but some places, like museums, restaurants or other ticketed attractions, may offer discounts for kids under a certain age.
It never hurts to ask about child discounts. This can save parents tons of money on vacation. It may seem awkward asking about discounts, but most locations are happy to do so.
6. Always Know Where Your Children Are
Parents should always keep track of their kids when traveling. It seems like an obvious tip, but it doesn’t hurt to mention. When traveling in airports and other overcrowded places, it can be easy for parents to get caught up in the chaos.
If a parent is traveling with another adult, they should split up duties. One can worry about getting tickets, food and other travel items, and the other can watch the kids. If traveling alone, parents should have an eye on their child at all times and even hold their hands. Children should know or have contact information in case they get lost.
Don’t Wait Until They’re Older
The best tip for parents is to get out there and travel with their kids. Things may not always go to plan, but it’s worth it for kids to experience the world at different stages of their lives. Travel opens children’s minds.