Easing Travel with Kids

We are approaching the summer vacation travel season.  Traveling with young children can be a challenge, especially on long trips in a car, airplane, or train – it’s really hard for them to sit in one confined position for a long period of time. The trick to making traveling fun and exciting for children is to keep them entertained and their tummies full.

Some of you may know, if you listened to my birthday post, where I shared 10 Things you probably didn’t know about me that I was a Flight Attendant for 20 years, so I know travel secrets!

With boredom, comes restlessness, and with hunger comes crankiness. A combination of this can mean an unpleasant trip, not only for the children, but for everyone traveling together. If you take some time to prepare before embarking upon a long traveling venture, you might have a much happier experience.

Gate Check Strollers

I hadn’t traveled with young kids in a really long time and I had forgotten how far apart gates in airports can be sometimes.  Make sure you bring along your stroller and gate check it.  You can bring it all the way down to the door of the aircraft, with a gate check tag on it and pick it up right there upon deplaning and pile the kids in.  It works great.

Pack Travel Bags

Still today, I pack travel bags – yes, even for my 16 year old!  When we took his birthday trip in February to San Francisco, he got a travel bag filled with some snacks, and a card game.  He certainly doesn’t need much anymore, but it is the tradition that keeps him smiling!

Take the time to pack a travel bag specific to each of your children. Make sure if they are old enough to carry their own small backpack, that you put in your child’s favorite stuffed animal, blanket, and some fun toys. Nothing comforts a child more than his or her favorite blanket and stuffed animal. Just these items alone can make a big difference when traveling.

Goodie Bags

I add a goodie bag that our kids get only when we arrive at the airport just before boarding the plane (or train, etc).  I take a gallon size Zip Loc bag and fill it with age appropriate items that I’ve gotten at the grocery store or dollar store.  Stickers, gum, small pieces of candy, crayons, coloring or activity books {see below}, puzzles, etc are all excellent items to keep kids entertained.  Include snacks in small containers or snack bags too.

Water Bottles

Since you are restricted to no liquids, it has been a life saver and budget saver to bring along empty water bottles in our bag to fill for drinking.  Each child can fill them on the other side of security and then can be responsible for them on their own, depending on their age.  These are what I use now for my toddler, they are great!  This is really helpful on the airplane too – it keeps the flight attendant from having to respond 32 times to that call bell each time your child wants a drink {Embarrassing!}

Bring Activity Books

If you are traveling by car, you might want to purchase a portable tray to make it easier for your child to write or draw.  I found this ‘desk to go‘ that has zippered compartments, which make it easy to secure small crayons, pencils or stickers.  You will certainly get more than one travel out of an item like this, and it can be used around town when you are having to be out and about and your child needs entertained.  Perhaps even something to keep in the car all the time, ready for action!

By providing fun and new activity books your child will be more likely to use them since they are new and challenging.  They will be more entertained with something new, rather than drawing in books that have already been marked up.  I suggest NOT bringing felt markers, they tend to be messy, but use crayons {love these washable ones!} or colored pencils instead.

Purchase Toys/Games Designed for Traveling

To avoid the crying or nagging of dropped toys or other items, purchase games and activity centers that are designed specifically for traveling. These items will usually have pens attached by a string to an activity book, and have magnetic pieces for games or puzzles.  I especially love this Melissa and Doug Travel Hangman game.  Avoid games with small pieces – like travel battleship – or you’ll be searching the grimy airplane floor for your battleships!  A simple deck of cards can be used for different type of matching games, old maid, go fish and if cards gets lost it is not a big expense.  You don’t have to spend a lot, just pick games that will be useable for many trips in the future and not just one time use.

By keeping everything within your child’s reach, and taking precautions for the unexpected, your child may have so much fun that he or she will not even realize how long you’ve been traveling. Having a variety of different engaging toys and games are even great for children to enjoy together.

Bring Along Electronic Items

Both older and younger children enjoy electronic items, such as DVD players, music players, and handheld gaming systems. Depending on the age of your child, a movie, for example, can easily deliver two hours of non-stop entertainment. If deciding to pack along electronics, always remember to pack extra car chargers or batteries.

We have drifted away from our portable DVD player and usually just use on of our laptop computers for movie viewing, but books on tape were a hit when my kids were younger.  You don’t really see cassette tapes now, but I love this inexpensive MP3 player with video screen – a great price and you can download music, an audio book or other favorite fun thing for your child and they have it all to themselves!

Keeping children entertained when traveling is easy with some pre-planning. Children love to be busy seeing things and doing things, so making frequent stops if traveling by car can also be a great way to break up a long trip. Be creative and think from your child’s perspective. After all, no one knows what your child loves more than you.

Essential Oils

As I am learning about ways to use Young Living Essential Oils with my family, I’ve been reminded that applying Thieves oil to my children’s chest and feet before we board a plane or other public travel venue will help protect them from getting sick, this applies to me too!   One mom shared with me that she sometimes apply’s it directly under her nose when it’s a really germy environment, um….like an airplane or bus station!  And if you have trouble with ear aches and pain use Lemon oil around the ears to help clear the ears.

Having personal experience with Valor and Peace & Calming, I would definitely add those to my bag of tricks!  Remember, you will need to hand check your oils through security.  {If you are new to essential oils, you can learn more about discounted purchasing too!}

What is your favorite travel tip?

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