My family loves to travel. Even if it’s a quick road trip, the boys get excited when we say “pack your bags, we are going on vacation”. In the last two years, we’ve done a few big trips including a trip to Disneyland in California and our first all-inclusive family trip to Jamaica.
But let’s face it….traveling with little kids is not always easy. You have to be prepared, that is key for keeping it all together! Their routines are disrupted. The good news is with a little preparation, you can make it a little less stressful for everyone. Below are a few tips that have helped me keep sane while traveling with my kiddos.
1. Pack Snacks – kids are always hungry so it’s important to have snacks ready to go. I suggest packing little portion sized baggies with healthy choices like crackers, veggies, fruit, and cereal. When they start to fuss, you can hand them a bag that will keep them happily munching away. The other benefit of packing small bags of snacks is you can really keep an eye on what they are eating. If I didn’t do this, my boys would eat an entire box of crackers and then complain their bellies hurt. Portion control + healthy options when traveling is important.
2. Plane Prep – if you are traveling by airplane, make sure to book seats in the aisle to make it easier to get up and down when the kids have to go to the bathroom. We like to book aisles across from each other when it’s only two seats together. This makes it easy for us to pass things to each other and for my husband and I to help our boys when they need it.
3. Keep the kids entertained – the key to keeping everyone happy is planning ways to entertain them whether you are traveling in the car, stuck at the airport, or trapped in a small hotel room. I’ve shared 20+ ways to enjoy your next road trip that include activities, games, and tips.
When we travel by airplane, my boys pack their own book bag with books, games, and electronics to keep them happy during the flight. My oldest loves the National Geographic Kids funny fill-in books and he’ll pack a few of those to keep busy during a long flight.
4. Encourage them to keep a travel journal – whenever we head off on vacation we have our boys bring a journal or notebook to jot down new things they’ve seen and activities they participated in. My youngest is just learning to write so he loves drawing. It gets them both excited to share their thoughts and will be something fun for them to look back on.
5. Give them a camera – this keeps them busy for hours! Last year we bought a kid’s action video camcorder that they love using. They can take videos of themselves and a ton of photos. It’s waterproof so I don’t have to worry about them breaking the camera when they jump into the pool. They love snapping photos of themselves underwater and I was surprised that some of their photos were really good. It’s neat to see life from their view. You can also buy a disposable camera for kids to encourage them to observe and explore their surroundings.
6. Stream movies and shows – we never travel without loading up the boys’ iPads with their favorite movies and shows. Just remember the headphones! You will be kicking yourself if you forget these. This comes in handy when trying to get ready for dinner in one hotel room. My boys will happily watch a show while my hubby and I get ready. It keeps them from whining they are bored or running around like crazy people (ok this still may happen but it’s worth a try).
Netflix has a ton of awesome kid shows that you can stream anytime, anywhere. When I see my kids getting cranky or tired, I pull up Netflix, click on their favorite show, and let them snuggle up in bed to rest. I also find it beneficial to research a few new shows/movies that they haven’t seen. Sometimes this will hold their attention much longer. Here’s a list of the top movies and shows kids are streaming, if you want to save this for future trips.
My biggest tip when traveling with kids is to go with the flow because it never goes as planned. Watch their behaviors for signs they are hungry, restless or over-stimulated. Most of the time, if you attend to them right away (when you see these signs) you can avoid a total meltdown.
Another good tip is to talk to your children and let them know what to expect. This is great if your kids are a bit older like mine (9 and 6). We prepare them a few days before on what our travel schedule will look like and how we expect them to behave.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your time together making memories!
Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, I received a Netflix subscription and a streaming device in return for posting Netflix updates and reviews. As always, all opinions are my own. Read Life Without Pink’s full disclosure here.