Traveling with Children Tips
  • | October 5, 2016
While family vacations are fun, not all couples have an easy time traveling with their children. Bringing kids on a trip can be a complicated, stressful process, especially if they're under the age of twelve. However, taking your family on vacation can be a good learning and bonding experience, so it's best to get a handle on the process early to make all later trips easier to manage.

If you want to make family trips pleasant for you, your partner, and your children, here are a few tips:

  1. Prepare your children for traveling a few days ahead of time. Whether this is the first or twenty-first time your children are going to be traveling, it would be wise to prepare them for the journey well before leaving so they know what to expect and anticipate on the trip. Of course, saying something like, “We're flying to Minnesota this weekend,” does not give your children enough information to plan around. Explain why you're traveling to that particular place and give concrete details about what the destination will be like. Depending on the age of the child, try using age-specific terminology. For young children, you might say something like, “It’ll be nice and sunny, and it has long beaches, so you can swim and play in the sand with your toys.” With this information, your children know to expect warm weather, water activities, and fun times in the sand, and they'll be more prepared for the journey.

  2. Get child-sized suitcases, and let your children pack themselves. Kids love to pick out their own stuff, and they feel a sense of pride when they get to carry their baggage around. Provide your children with a list of essentials that must be included, such as three shirts, two pairs of shoes, one toothbrush, etc. Given the guidelines, your children will be free to choose which three specific shirts they'd like to include, and you'll rest assured that they'll be leaving fully prepared for the trip. Before leaving, take a moment to gather the family and each run through your checklist of required items. This will be a fun, collective way to make sure everyone has all the necessities packed in their luggage.

  3. Keep them entertained. Whether flying, driving, or sailing, be sure you've packed enough activities and supplies to keep your children busy during the trip. Examples of these could be a miniature camera they can use to take their own vacation pictures, a container of their favorite toys, or coloring and story books. Avoid trying to keep them happy with sweets; this could cause a sudden spike and drop in your kids' energy levels, and they may start getting cranky while traveling. Pack enough materials to make sure they stay entertained for the duration of the entire trip, and you shouldn't run into any issues.

  4. Use public transportation when possible. Small kids under the age of seven tend to feel restricted and uncomfortable when they get fastened into a car seat. Public transportation, such as buses, trains, and trams work better for kids because they have more freedom to check out unique places and objects outside the windows without any serious discomfort. Additionally, you would not be in charge of driving or otherwise operating the vehicle, giving you more opportunities to take in the experience with your children.

  5. Use a child locator. The truth is thousands of kids get lost per year while traveling with their families. If you have concerns about losing your child in a crowd or at an event, it’s best to invest in a child locator device you can attach to their clothing, their body, or their luggage so you can track where they are should they accidentally wander off or get approached by a stranger.

Family trips should be fun, and finding ways to keep your children engaged in the whole process will make it a memorable experience for them. Ask them to color pictures of the trip or, if they're old enough, to keep a journal of all the interesting things they do over the course of the vacation. While it can be stressful to have children along, there are simple things you can do to make the trip comfortable and positive for the whole family.

Good luck!