This is the most common question that we get from other parents that are planning a trip with young kids. Here are our suggestions, including some things that we learned the hard way:
- Relax and don’t stress. This is actually the most important tip. In uncertain situations kids look to their parents for guidance. Traveling should be fun and you want your kids to be excited – so be excited yourself. Things will go wrong. It’s okay. Roll with it.
- Start writing a packing list at least a week before you leave so you don’t forget anything that can’t easily be picked up at your destination.
- Check your bags. You have enough to worry about going through the airport and security with kid(s) in tow. Babies and toddlers are small, but they need a lot of stuff.
- Buy a car seat luggage cart. They make going through the airport so much easier and you can gate check the car seat for free. Plus, renting car seats is usually more expensive than renting a car (not kidding) and you will know how to install your own seat correctly.
5. Buy some small trinkets or new toys to pull out if (or when) your kids start to lose it on the flight.
6. If you have a tendency to plan action packed vacations, like me, take your itinerary and cut in half. It will generally take twice as long to do anything with young kids and they need time for naps. We took Finnegan to Cambodia when he was 20 months old and toured Angkor Wat. It was amazing. Russ and I enjoyed the Khmer architecture, the jungle setting, and learning about the history of the temples. Finnegan had so much fun playing in the rocks and dirt, climbing on piles of ruins waiting to be rebuilt, watching monkeys, and becoming a bit of a tour attraction himself. It would have been great to see even more temples, but Finnegan probably would have had a melt down and we all would have been miserable. Sometimes less is more.
7. Pick your destination wisely. Don’t plan a cross country road trip if your baby doesn’t like long car rides. But don’t assume you need to go to theme park for every vacation either. Finnegan asks about going back to Costa Rica a lot more than he asks about Sesame Place.
8. Have fun, take lots of pictures, make memories, and start planning your next trip
Do you have any other tips for traveling with kids? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.