For most people, the only time when the thought of traveling with kids wasn’t frightening was before they actually had kids of their own! Those with children often cringe at the thought of traveling (in any fashion) with their kids in tow. If you are preparing for a trip and have kids, then you are probably experiencing a little anxiety about how you are actually going to manage the logistics of traveling with the kids…without killing anyone!
Don’t worry. It is possible to have an enjoyable trip while traveling with kids. While there’s no guarantee that your children will act like the angels they are for the entire trip, following a few bask rules can help everyone be on their best behavior.
Traveling With Kids Tip 1: Take Advantage of “Sleep Hours”
When traveling with kids, you will find it very beneficial to plan the bulk of your traveling during the hours your children normally sleep. For example, if you are traveling by car and your destination is 12 hours away, consider leaving at night, around your kids’ bedtime. You and your spouse/partner can drive in shifts to ensure traveling all night is possible. Then, when the kids wake up in the morning, most of your traveling will have already been done.
Adults avoid bathrooms on airplanes but kids know… they are cool!
For plane trips, look for early flights so the kids will rest on the plane ride. You can even turn the trip into a game. What we like to do is schedule an early flight and let the kids wear their pajamas. They will usually rest early and we break up the flight by changing them into their clothes and brushing their teeth on the plane.
Kids Travel Tip 2: Pack More Than You Think You Need
This is a very important rule to remember when traveling with kids. Always pack more than you think you will need. This goes for all things, but especially toys. A toy that you think will keep your child entertained for 15-20 minutes, will probably only hold their attention for 5-10 minutes. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of things to keep your child busy. Many parents actually go and purchase a few new toys before a big trip and wait until they’re in the midst of traveling before pulling them out.
When traveling with kids you can’t rely on in-plane TV’s, power outlets, or the Internet connection.
A couple things we have found out the hard way is you can’t rely on in-plane TV’s, power outlets, or the Internet connection. Make sure the iPads and Tablets are fully charged the night before and have content loaded that does not rely on an Internet connection. Also, carry external battery packs. A couple years ago, on the way to Disney, we had a 3-hour delay. The tablets were out of battery before we even left the ground. Extra power has become inexpensive and you can pick up external battery packs on Amazon.com for under $20 that will more than double your battery life and use the existing USB charger for you iPad or Tablet.
Kids Travel Tip 3: Allow Time for “Pit” Stops
There is no such thing as a non-stop trip with kids. It doesn’t matter how short of a trip you’re going on…kids aren’t able to sit for hours on end without stopping. It’s important that you give your kids a few opportunities to get out, use the restroom and stretch their legs a little when traveling. An easy way to incorporate “pit” stops in your travel plans is to stop at normal meal times. Stopping to eat usually gives kids at least 30 minutes outside of the vehicle, which will do wonders for them! If you are traveling by plane you can break up the trip by proactively walking around the plane every hour. Like we mentioned in Kids Travel Tip 1, we change clothes and brush teeth during the trip to incorporate a “pit” stop.
Kids Travel Tip 4: Plan a Few “Fun” Things
To ensure everyone in the family has a good time, make sure you plan a few activities that your kids will find fun. Having fun activities planned specifically for the kids will not only give them something to look forward to while traveling, but it also gives you some bargaining power as well. “Fun” things can be as simple as stopping for ice-cream or as time-consuming as visiting a popular amusement park. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something the kids will enjoy!
We say we are going to limit the stop to 30 minutes, but reality is 90 minutes. Daddy likes go-carts!
Think outside the box on this one. When driving from New York City to Buffalo, our “family truckster” can’t make it the whole way on one tank of gas. So, we stop in Syracuse to get gas near the Destiny USA Mall. For younger kids there is a carousel. For older kids there is go carts and plenty of games in Dave & Busters. We say we are going to limit the stop to 30 minutes, but reality is 90 minutes. Daddy likes go-carts!
Kids Travel Tip 5: Stay Overnight at an Airport Hotel Before Your Flight
Some days it is just hard to get out of the house. Add the stress of travel into the equation and it can be overwhelming. This is where an airport hotel can be a great insurance policy for making it to your flight on time. Having an airport hotel allows you to leave the night before your flight at your leisure and head to a hotel near the airport. The hotels we recommend even include airport parking and free shuttle service to the airport. An airport hotel that includes airport parking in the room rate is referred to as a Park Sleep Fly Hotel Package.
We have done this a few times at the Newark Airport and the room rate included 7 days of parking. The room with the parking cost less than we would have paid to park at the airport. Plus, we slept in 3 hours later and the hotel shuttle dropped us off right at the skycap to check our bags. Go to our Airport Hotel Directory to find a hotel near your airport that offers Park Sleep Fly packages.
It’s hard to imagine any parent getting excited about traveling with their kids (the actual traveling part, anyways), but if you follow theses tips, the thought and act of traveling with your kids shouldn’t be as stressful. Just remember: kids are kids. They don’t have the patience or attention span of adults; therefore, traveling with them will require a little more thought and patience on your part.