HOW TO TRAVEL WITH KIDS
Authored by Jenny Noonan
February 25, 2019
The best piece of advice I can give you is to travel with your kids and to do it often.
I never considered what it would be like to travel with a baby or a child until I had to do it. My oldest (and only at the time) was 4 months old and I was traveling to Utah for a training. To be safe, I packed everything that he owned including (and not limited to) a pack n’play, a stroller, a play mat,a car seat, a stroller, toys, and all of his clothes. It was a 4 day trip and when my mom and I unloaded the car, it looked like we were moving to Utah. I did a lot of learning on that trip to set me up for success on the next 9 trips we took over the following 2 years. I have since travelled more with him, had another baby, and took him (by myself) overseas to England. Here are the best and most practical tips for traveling with kids.
- Don’t overpack. This may end up being something you realize you’ve done in hindsight, and know that your baby/kid doesn’t need a lot of things. Take clothes that you can wash and re-wear, and just like us, take things that they can layer depending on the climate you are going to. This could also include packing few to no diapers. If you use disposable diapers, you can buy them anywhere, and it will save you the space in your luggage on the way. Look ahead and see what the weather is going to be like when you are away, and pack for that kind of weather. (I know this seems silly to say, and you probably don’t need any “just in case” outfits.
- Do the work ahead of time to understand where you’re going, and how you will get around once you’re there. Traveling to Utah where I was going to rent a car and drive everywhere was different from traveling to London and needing to plan how I was going to get everywhere on trains in very old city where there isn’t always an elevator.
- Take things to keep them entertained. This will probably include an ipad or tablet. There may be some condescension on this and, when traveling with kids, everyone (including the other strangers on the plane) will be so much happier if your kid is happy and entertained. I love watching movies when I travel, why should I pretend that my kids should be or do any differently? If you’re worried about too much screen time, just make sure they stare at some trees once you arrive. It will all balance out.
- Take all the snacks. Including for yourself. Take things that are somewhat nutritious as well as things that are yummy and fun to eat. Your travels are not the time to impress strangers with the ideal of how you want your kids to eat. Bring things that they and you like to eat, so if there are delays, everyone stays happy and fed.
- Also bring water, or refillable bottles. I have found that even in an airport without fountains to refill water at, Starbucks will usually refill your water bottle for you. Water bottles cost about $80 at the airport and flying and traveling in general is dehydrating. Littles will dehydrate faster, so make sure you have options for them.
- Expect and plan for delays/changes. In an ideal world, you would always be early to your destination, get upgraded to more leg room for free, and your luggage would always be the first out. Unfortunately this isn’t/never the case. Planning for delays includes preparing mentally for them, as well as having a plan for what to do with your kids if something changes. You must bring an adventurous and light spirit to traveling with small humans. Otherwise it will become stressful really quickly.
- Share your expectations and plans with your kids weeks in advance. This includes telling them where you’re going, how one behaves on the plane (i.e. don’t kick the seat in front of you, and there will be snacks on the plane) I’ve found that the more you talk about it with them, the better prepared that they are to deal with all of the moving parts that will come. This could also mean telling them that they’ll get to watch the iPad, but not until they are buckled in their seats on the plane.
- Look for fun things to do with them once you’ve arrived. I’ve found that most places are family/kid friendly and there’s lots to do. Be realistic about your expectations, and remember that traveling and seeing lots of new things can be overwhelming for them, so make sure you schedule in time to rest during your day. Having one big outing each day can be more than enough. Remember, this is an opportunity for you to enjoy something new together, not exhaust yourself.
- Stay calm. Your kids will respond to your energy, so if you’re stressed out, they’ll get stressed out too. Do what you know to do to keep your energy even and calm. You may even need snacks for this. (see #4)
- Remember that traveling with your kids is teaching them how to travel to set them up to enjoy it as they get older and take adventures on their own. It’s such an incredible thing to be able to teach them!
Lastly, I also don’t recommend taking a 1 year old to Evensong at Westminster Abbey when that said 1 year old is going through a pterodactyl phase. You will get stuck and not be able to leave, and have to hide in a side chapel that you are sure is haunted with the ghost of William Shakespeare.
Blogging Adventurer: Jenny Noonan
Jenny is a mom, a yoga teacher, a lover of delicious foods, and an adventurer. She was born and raised and is raising her boys in Houston Texas. She has a goal to visit all 7 continents, and to live abroad with her family, and to collect art in every place that she visits.
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