9 Tips for Smoother Travel Adventures with Young Kids

Today, I have a very special guest, Daniel Sherwin of DadSolo.com, who has offered to write a guest post about the best ways to travel with young children. He has some awesome tips to help keep your whole family happy whether you are taking a road trip just a few miles down the road or flying to another country with your little ones!

Adventuring with the family this summer? Get ready for some fun in the sun! Here’s how to keep everyone happy, entertained, and safe during your journeys.

Travel with Toddlers

Little people like to explore… everything. Build in extra time to accommodate additional bathroom breaks and side-trips to keep your stress levels lower.

1. Whether you’re motel-hopping or camping, book ahead. Nothing’s worse than arriving at a destination with tired, cranky kids to find everything filled to capacity.
2. Give your littles an inexpensive easy-to-use digital camera. It’s fun to see the world from their point of view.
3. Consider the climate where you’re headed. Water shoes protect tender feet from crunchy shells at the beach. SPF rash guards and longer boardshorts cover more skin.
4. Still potty-training? Pack pull-ups especially for long plane and car trips.
5. Try public transportation — it’s another experience for toddlers to interact with different cultures, especially if your kids rarely travel regularly by train or bus or boat.
6. Get a child locator. These GPS devices strap to belts, shoes, or wrists. You keep the transmitter or download an app to your phone.
7. Pack antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer for wiping down utensils, seats, and toys. 

8. Put together a traveling first aid kit with kids’ Tylenol, antiseptic wipes, sting and sunburn treatment, a thermometer, Neosporin, Band-Aids, and a few ice packs.

Travel with Elementary-Age Kids

Encourage independence when your kids pack for the trip, but check their bags to verify they’ve remembered the essentials.

1. Whether you’re journeying by plane, train, automobile, or a combination, don’t just count on electronics to keep them occupied. Pack a selection of battery-free activities like puzzle/activity or coloring books, travel games, mini-packages of slime, or Play-Doh.
2. Give your kids a travel journal, where they can write about and draw pictures of the trip. As with younger kids, encourage older kids to use their iPods or other digital cameras to visually document their adventures.

Don’t Be a Stickler for Rules

It’s true that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limited screen time for little people; however, if you’re on a transatlantic flight, delayed in an airport, or stuck in traffic, a Disney movie on the iPad or an extra hour of Minecrafting won’t hurt. Have ice cream for lunch, and let the kids watch television in the morning for an extra hour so you can relax on the deck with your coffee and book.

Talk About Budgeting Before You Go

By age 5 or 6, kids can grasp the idea of budgets, especially if you have simple discussions as part of everyday life. Before heading on your trip, decide on the amount of money your kids can spend on souvenirs. If they earn money doing extra jobs or receive a weekly allowance, suggest they bring some of their money to spend. If you’re headed to a specific destination, like Disney World, you can purchase a gift card with a specified amount for kids to spend with the understanding that when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Healthy Car-Friendly Meals and Snacks for All

Sure, you could go with the standard PB&J or crackers and veggies with hummus. Wrapped sandwiches and protein boxes are good, too — but what about the taste? Your road warriors don’t have to sacrifice taste if you’re replacing traditional road-trip fare with healthier options. 

Protein-filled foods like mozzarella string cheese and apple slices or hard-boiled eggs are excellent examples of meals to eat in the car. All-natural beef jerky’s a win, too. We often snack from boredom, so offer carrot sticks and grapes which last for miles and miles. Make air-popped popcorn for complex carbs, fiber, and antioxidants.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Traveling with kids is never dull — but if you’re a wanderer at heart, don’t let a larger family slow you down! Expect the unexpected, cultivate a healthy dose of flexibility, give yourself permission to go with the flow (even if it’s not part of the itinerary), and enjoy the adventure!

For those of you with young kids, are there any tips here that you plan on incorporating during your next vacation? Is there anything else that you think would be important to keep in mind that may not be mentioned in this post?

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