With summer, and vacation plans around the corner, you might be intimidated by the thought of traveling with your younger kids. When it comes to traveling with small children, it pays off the more you involve them in the process of packing and getting ready for a trip.
Travel blogger Hilarye Fuller shares some ideas to make it more pleasant.
Pack an activity bag together. This is great for both airplane and road trips. Let your child help you choose thier favorite books, stuffed animals and dvds and don't forget their comfort items. Pack their absolute favorite snacks and take a trip to the dollar store and let them pick out a new coloring book and toy that they can only play with in the car or on the plane. This helps get them excited about their upcoming journey and a great way to ensure they will be occupied.
If it is your child's first time flying or it has been awhile, it is helpful to start preparing them a few days before the trip. Read them books about airplanes, explain what the airport and the airplane will be like. Take the time to talk about behavior expectations and ease any fears they may have. Role playing is a great way to do this as well. The key is to make it exciting and sound like a fun expirience. It also helps to talk about the destination and what you will be doing once you arrive.
When road tripping with young children it's most important to be flexible and patient. It's really difficult to stay on a very strict schedule with a toddler or pre-schooler in tow. Stopping every few hours to let them out and run around is really important for everyone's sanity. A great place to do this is to find a rest stop that has a park or picnic area. Not only will you save money on food costs but your picnic will most likely be a healthier option to the gas station or fast food fare.
Take advantage of the time you will have with your children during long rides in the car. Road trips are becoming a lost art in the days of airplane travel but it can be a great way to bond as a family. Encourage older children to power down their video games and dvd players and enjoy the scenery. Play classic road games together, sing songs and even just talk about school, friends and their goals and dreams. This all may sound a little cheesy but utilizing the opportunity will create great memories and bring you closer to your children in ways you never thought possible.
Young children are extremely adaptable, yet the most common fear I hear from parents worried about traveling with little ones either cross country or internationally is jet lag and timezone changes. Many parents say their children will ONLY nap in their own bed and will not sleep in a stroller. They also worry they will sleep all day and be up all night (a valid concern), but you really don't need to worry too much about it. If your kid is tired enough they really will sleep anywhere regardless of what their usual habits are. The key is to be flexible and not expect too much from your young child. A great way to start preparing for jet lag and time change is start putting them to bed a little early or late a few days ahead of time and then try to keep them up once they get there but don't stress too much if they can't make it.
Traveling internationally with older children will be a lot easier in a few ways. You don't have to worry about napping and they are more understanding of timezones. Take the time to explain to them ahead of time what they will feel when it comes to jet lag and encourage them to get as much sleep as possible on the airplane.