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The best quick and dirty tips for traveling with kids
If you have kids, you don’t have a lot of time to read. My pet peeve is a long winded blog about family travel that’s light on tips, but just FULL of funny anecdotes. You just need the tips. So here they are, quick and dirty.
Bring balloons to inflate.
You can work off a lot of kid’s-been-in-a-car-all-day energy at the hotel. Yet an inflated balloon doesn’t travel far and won’t break anything.
And while we’re at it…bubbles.
Blowing bubbles helps with the same thing especially at airports and are totally worth taking precious ounces of what the TSA allows you to bring in liquids.
How to fly with young children.
Parent one uses pre-board to load in gear, sets up shop. Parent 2 waits with children and boards absolutely last. This way you wear them out, don’t expose them to the most stressful part of the trip-the boarding process and they are not constrained an extra 45 minutes (or longer) for the flight to leave.
Never feel bad about going to McDonalds.
Or any fast food. for that matter. Being a quick and stress free meal is EXACTLY what these restaurants were made for.
For god’s sakes, no buffets.
Mom’s are required to do all the getting up and down, assembling, pouring, cutting spreading and STILL leave a tip.
Use the ironing board in your room.
No, not to iron, but for more counter space or a TV dinner table. Lower it to make an activity table.
Two words: Duct tape.
Use it to childproof outlets, tape drawers and toilet lids shut and wrangle dangling chords.
When you walk into any new space (like a hotel room, Air BnB, cruise cabin), drop everything and check windows are locked, balcony doors shut and anything else that could be potentially dangerous for a wandering child.
Seek out restaurants with booths.
Children relax more in them and even fall asleep. This old fashion seating can be found at Denny’s, Perkin’s, Cracker Barrels. Yep the food maybe mediocre, but at leastI get to eat that mediocre food.
Long day sight-seeing?
Throw a pair of thin flip flops into your handbag and some baby powder. At lunch or on a break, take off your comfy shoes (they won’t be after 6 to 10 hours on your feet) slip on the flip flops and sprinkle your feet with BP. Instant feel good.
Never leave a location without using its restroom.
Your children will say they don’t have to go. They lie.
Dress for battle.
For those of us still helping children onto the potty, let’s be honest: you are going to be spending more time than you want crouched on a bathroom floor. A PUBLIC. BATHROOM. FLOOR. I like wearing a nylon hiking pant from Columbia, which I can easily wash off with a paper towel drenched in Purell. They have articulated knees for easy bending AND a high waistline so I’m not flashing my thong underwear every time I bend down to help my kids.
Pack for your real life, not your imaginary one.
Just leave the book, fashion magazine, or a crossword puzzle at home. You won’t get a chance. Trust me.
Ditch the wheels ASAP.
I once asked a father of two sets of twins (TWO!) for his best advice. He told me to get them out of the stroller and used to walking. It was a painful process, but I stopped pushing a stroller when they were three and now at five they can go anywhere and keep up with me. I still wipe their butts, so I can’t get too cocky.
Build in a siesta.
No matter your age, we all get tired and cranky from around 2 to 4pm. Build in a break, nap or low-key time for kids to color…okay maybe you can bring that fashion magazine afterall.
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This Post Has 17 Comments
My husband and I have enjoyed watching your travel programs for many years. They always encourage us to leave our sofa and experience the world for ourselves.
Thank you for these travel tips for kids!! Our sons are grown, but these will come in very handy for our three Grands as we travel with them. As a grandmother, I always pack a special bag for each Grand with special items in it for road travel like: Coloring books, washable markers, a book, stickers, with a clipboard. They look forward to seeing what’s in their bag along our travels.
Blessings to you and your family,
Sam, the space here wasnt big enuff to say that what made your latest series special is the formula .Your personal interest in the folks you meet while making an episode was heartwarming . Your children are sweet , hope to see more episodes if you are up for it.
Absolutely build in the rest period! Don’t fall into the ‘this is expensive and we need to get our money’s worth’ trap. Your money will be wasted if your kids are cranky and you’re thinking about running away by continuing to slog along. Instead, take your siesta to rest and rehydrate. You’ll wind up liking each other again and enjoying yourselves so much more when you resume your outing.
Great post with excellent tips! The ironing board and flip flops tips were my favorite! ????
I’m a mother of 7 children under 11 who are all grown with children of their own. If you are on a long road trip children get antsy and can misbehave. I used to take along a “Treasure Bag” full of several dozen cheap inexpensive toys and prizes which I purchased at a dollar store. Tell the children they can CHOOSE one prize every hour they are “happy” travelers. I called it the incentive plan.
Before your first flight, practice “airplane” at home. There are times when you can get up and times when you can’t. Use headphones with a tablet. Use it in airplane mode. Chew gum or drink during take off and landing to make your ears pop. If kids know what to expect, most meltdowns on planes can be avoided. (Most, not all)
GREAT tips!! Loved this article 🙂
Amazing tips. I liked your idea of using the flip-flops. I would love to share your great tips with my friends. Keep posting such interesting articles.
Brilliant! Why I never thought of letting my husband board while I let my kid run the airport for the 10th time….is beyond me. So smart.
When going on road trips, the most important thing to have is the back seat is the DVD player. Our kids watched so many movies in the back of the van when they were young, it eventually broke. We also used Redbox a lot; rent a movie in one city, and then return it in a different Redbox down the road. This was very helpful when we went on a 2-week road trip from Ohio to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and back.
Nylon pant from Columbia or similar, I’m coming to get you. Thank you Samantha for your greatness. I have been enjoying you and your shows for years! Keep it up!
Excellent tips – the one with the flip flops is soo good, I can’t believe how I did not come to this earlier. Thank you for sharing this post.
Good advice. When traveling in Europe, I always refer to your shows for info. Thank you!
I agree with all except the stroller aspect. I love the stroller and feel it helps so much. It also gives me a place to put my bag and not have to hold it and the water bottles etc. I also love to fly with my stroller so when we are flying (which is usually me solo with 1 -2 kids) I can throw the kids in the stroller and get through the airport quickly, otherwise I am waiting on them or worse carrying them through the place. We bring the big double bob to Disney and beyond. I dread when I lose that stroller.
Excellent tips, well told!
Pack for your real life.
No wheels. Yes, walking with your kids is the best way … mine remember everything from those early travels and it’s because they earned every view.
Bubbles! Balloons! Fantastic!
Best Travel List Evah! It is like it was written by a real person with real kids! I always enjoy your authenticity.
We only had 1 child & she only flew twice as a young child – at 4 months & then at 5 years. She was fine on both trips. We drove a lot & made sure she had books and snacks, and later, a Gameboy. Had a problem when she was around 2 when she figured out how to undo her car seat, but we stopped every time she did that so I only remember that being a problem on one trip (“whenever we have to stop it means you won’t see Grandma as fast.”).