Traveling is such an adventure and even more so when you travel with kids.
And the prospect of traveling with your children can seem very daunting.
We’ve all seen it — perhaps we’ve been it — the frazzled mom, the frustrated dad and the screaming child. Another common sight at airports around the world: the mom carrying a baby in one arm with a diaper bag in the other, while dad is rushing alongside carrying a car seat over one shoulder and another child over the other with a booster seat in hand. To a lot of parents, just the thought of traveling with their children makes them want to stay home.
Is it any wonder staying home sounds better than traveling with kids?
From all the gear you have to haul to pushing your family through security (after waiting in line), from making sure you have the binky — and a backup binky — to trying to fit your car seat in an unfamiliar rental while your child is whining from exhaustion; traveling with children is stressful.
But we have places to visit, family to see and so we go.
We love traveling and we wanted to raise our kids with an appreciation for different cultures and different people. So we have taken our children on adventures as far as Fiji. It was just two then and they were 4 and 2 (almost 3). And we all survived several cross country road trips, many of which were just me and three kids. Yikes!
By that time, they had already flown several times — we flew with all of them at only a few months old. Since then they have become quite the travel pros.
Plus, what better way to learn patience and flexibility than the plentiful opportunities traveling offers? (Just last week the two big kids and I had to wait in the security line twice because the machine wouldn’t read my boarding pass. Then my daughter’s bag got pulled so TSA, apparently, could determine if her sour gummy worms were explosive. The kids handled it like pros.)
But stress-free travel has to do with more than them learning the ropes.
Over the years we have learned a great deal about keeping travel with kids easy.
Here are our three most important tips to keep the stress low:
1. Plan ahead.
Have everything packed and ready to go with a written list of what last minute things need to be done prior to leaving. When you travel with kids, make sure to have some snacks on hand in your carry-on, don’t plan on getting something at the airport just in case you run out of time or, like our kids, your kids can’t find anything they like to eat. We even keep our toiletry kits pre-packed; one ready for if we check bags and one ready for carry-on bags.
3. Bring only what is necessary.
With children there’s enough necessary items to bring without adding in unnecessary ones. Our rule for our children is anything they bring (snacks, toys, etc.) has to fit in their backpack and they have to be able to carry the backpacks themselves. If we do carry-on, they wheel their own suitcases through the airport. They also carry their own “car seat”. They use a RideSafer Travel Vest, which is so lightweight they attach to their backpack. The vest is a booster seat alternative which is easy, safe and convenient especially for when you travel with kids.
(The RideSafer manufacturer is working on getting the vest approved for use on the plane. That means it can go from being used in your car, to being used on the plane, to being used upon arrival in whatever rental, taxi or other vehicle you are taking.)
4. Keep calm and be flexible.
Um, you just said plan ahead. Am I contradicting myself here? No. Plan ahead and remain flexible. Mostly stay calm.
This may be the biggest tip to stress-free travel with kids.
Stuff happens. Delays happen. Lines happen. Junk food and skipped naps happen. Just realize it happens. And it’s only a day or two in your life. If you start stressing, your kids will pick up on that energy and feel stressed too.
Roll with the punches. Keep a positive attitude and remain flexible, this will help your children do the same.
Traveling is an adventure, especially for and with children. Let’s keep it that way.
For more tips, read 16 Tips for Traveling with Kids.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2021 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in November 2016. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.