How To Travel With Children And Live To Tell About It


December 19, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Traveling with small children has a lot of challenges. From the near constant complaining about being uncomfortable and thirsty to the incessant need to see every bathroom along the way, it is a wonder that anyone survives. But, everyone does it because family holidays are fun. They are supposed to be fun right?

Too often what could be great memories are overshadowed by the stress of just keeping the kids from killing each other. I am not going to tell you that I can make a long car or plane trip pleasant or instruct you to happily sing songs in the front seat to spread your joy around.

That is all crazy talk. What you can do is try a few things that might make the portion of your holiday you spend confined in a small space with your offspring bearable.

That’s the best I think anyone can hope for, bearable, when it comes to traveling with kids. Some people are of the mindset that your entire holiday has to be filled with sunshine and rainbows. I say save all of that for the destination and be happy with at least a relative sense of calm on the way there.

Tips for traveling with tots:

  • Load your Phone
    Before you leave, go the app store and load up your iPhone with kids games (good list here). There are a ton of free games that will keep your kids busy for hours. Even if you have to spend $1.99, it’s worth it. As a backup, toss a couple movies on there too. I am telling you, the thrill of even holding a parent’s phone is a thrill for a kid; having it loaded with activities is even better. By the way, bring headphones unless you like hearing the Spongebob game lyrics for hours.
  • Mentally prepare yourself
    There are going to be meltdowns and crying fits. Expecting them will make it easier to take a deep breath and allow them to just run their course.
  • Make surprise bags for the children
    Take little brown bags or whatever is handy and put in a little inexpensive toy or game, stickers, a little coloring book and crayons, anything they have not seen before or in a long time will work. Make one for each hour you will be in the car or plane and pass them out accordingly. Hopefully, it will keep them occupied for about twenty minutes of each hour.
  • Put the kids in comfortable clothes and shoes
    I find that taking off their shoes and putting them in one spot helps to put them back on when it is time too move.
  • Pack bribe treats.
    I know it sounds bad, but a piece of candy can go a long way toward giving you a few minutes to regain your composure. This is an emergency only tactic.

The most important of all travel tips is to take it easy on yourself. If the kids break down and stomp and scream on the airplane, remember that half of the people there have been in your shoes. You only think they are judging you.

The more upset you get, the worse your child will behave. They sense stress and it gets them stressed out too. Also, try not to set them up for failure by going too long without food or spending more then a couple of hours sitting in a car or plane seat. Finally, and this is really important, when you arrive at your destination pour yourself a big glass of wine. You earned it.

Feel free to tell us about your experience of traveling with children. What did you do to keep them from killing each other out of boredom?

Written on 12/19/2009 by Monika Mundell. Monika Mundell is a passionate freelance writer and pro-blogger. Her blog Freelance Writing helps new freelance writers to get started in this exciting industry. If you like to work with Monika, feel free to visit her Portfolio site. Photo Credit: Marta Crowe

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