Arriving to your destination should be a time for celebration, as family trips are pinnacle moments that children usually remember when they think back to their childhood vacations (or at least they can remember through the pictures you show them).
The traveling days of the vacation, however, can be tolling; especially if a Momma isn’t prepared for all of the avoidable stresses that can damper a vacation from the start. Here are some tips that will leave you feeling prepared and armed for traveling with your little ones.
First and foremost, set aside a large carry on bag that will store all of the necessities that you will need whether you are traveling by car, plane, train or bus. Regardless of your mode of transportation, this bag should be easily accessible and can arm you for emergencies.
If you are traveling with babies, toddlers or newly potty trained children, remember to pack extra diapers, plenty of wipes, hand sanitizer, an extra pair of underpants and an extra change of clothes. If you have an explosive diaper, an excessive amount of spit up, motion sickness or an accident because you can’t get to the restroom quick enough, you are prepared for these accidents. It’s also a great idea to pack a few extra plastic bags for discarding soiled diapers without offending other passengers or travelers. These bags are also great for repacking wet and soiled clothes.
Easily accessible and necessary belongings
Next, you should have a section in your bag that holds snacks, drinks, and activities that will help to occupy your children. Many times, you can find small snack bags at the grocery store and these are great for filling little munchies in small portions. It’s best to stick with some tried and true snacks that you child is used to, but have several options so you don’t run low if you encounter delays. Graham crackers, goldfish, pretzels, carrot sticks, and gummy bites are a few popular choices. If you have a cold pack or a small cooler, you can also add string cheese, hard boiled eggs, and small yogurt travel snacks.
In addition to snacks your child eats frequently, it is also a great idea to unveil something new that they haven’t tried yet or haven’t had in a while. These snacks can be used to reward for good behavior or to bribe for good behavior, as there will certainly be set backs in your travel day that may require some emergency goodies.
Juice boxes and small serving sizes of milk boxes are also great drink options as long as they are under the 3 oz guidelines of the FAA. Unless you have a laid back security agent checking you though, you will not be allowed to bring in any water. Breast milk and formula are approved, but pack an extra container or bottle and purchase water once you are through security. Any other mode of transportation other than flying and the liquid options are much easier!
Once settled and in route to your destination, it’s also important to have some activities for children. DVD players, iPhones and electronic tablets are all great options for the older children. However, if you are flying, these devices are not allowed until a certain point in the flight and sometimes the wait can be cumbersome.
If there are other delays, the wait for electronic devices when flying can be hours. Stickers are a great option. Crayons, markers, coloring books, small containers of playdoh, silly puddy and wax sticks are also great for entertaining children. Chew toys, soft rattles and texture books are usually good options for babies. However, there will be less entertaining for a baby and more focus on feeding and napping if the trip falls during baby’s sleep time.
If your travel requires a ticket in order to fly or ride and your child does not have any form of identification, bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate. Many children under the age of 10 do not own passports or photo IDs and travel companies are becoming more stringent with security. A copy of a birth certificate will not only provide proof of age, but it will also identify the legal parents or guardians and verify the same last name if that is required. Children who are traveling free of charge because they fall under a certain age (usually 2 and under travel free) will need to verify they fall into this category.
For babies and infants, remember the burp clothes, baby food, extra bottles, extra formula packets, pacifier, soothing item (blanket, small lovey) and nursing cover. Babies need to be nursed or bottle fed for ascent and descent when flying to avoid painful ear pressure. Another item to remember is a stroller, a baby carrier or sling.
For road trips, strolling your baby to get some fresh air during a rest stop can be helpful for everyone and when traveling in airports and train stations, having two free hands is also handy so you can manage your luggage and gear. Many babies will also sleep in baby carriers or slings and pacing the aisle of a plane while baby is secured to Momma can also be a great way to have your child take a nap during air travel.
The travel day is a lot of work, but it can be less overwhelming if you are prepared for the worst case scenarios. Pack your travel bag and all of your gear for your children the night before so that when your travel day arrives, you are not worrying about anything other than stepping foot out your door and starting your vacation. Have a great trip and don’t forget the camera!