How the heck do I travel with kids?
Once again, a busy season (that’s actually most seasons) of traveling is upon us! The question I see over and over again by parents about to travel with kids on social media, Montessori sites and non-Montessori sites alike, is “I am about to travel with my young child. How do I keep them occupied without bringing an iPad!?”.
Having recently taken a flight with my husband, our young toddler, and newborn son, and having taken our 3 year old daughter on a 16 hour road trip not too long ago, I can help with this!
First thing’s first: Get prepared!
What do I bring for long trips with kids?
For either air or road travel, here are some of my go-to suggestions!
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Car seat tray: This allows your child a surface for drawing and gives them a place to put their drink, books, crayons, ECT.
Crayons and paper: Must haves when you travel with kids!
Dry erase markers and dry erase board: So your child can draw, wipe clean, then draw some more!
Toys: Something new and fantastic! Purchase some items just for the trip and don’t bring them out until it’s time to leave.
Sticker books: I got these for my kids and they were a big hit! My 3 year enjoyed following the instructions and placing the stickers in their rightful place and my younger toddler enjoyed naming the animals and, of course…the stickers!
National Geographic has some awesome sticker books that I highly recommend!
Snacks: You know the deal; something new and delicious. A variety of tastes and textures that will keep your child’s belly full and keep them busy!
Books: Whether your child can read or not, and whether or not you will be able to read to your child (Think a one parent trip.), books are an absolute necessity for trips of any length! I suggest bringing some old favorites and spicing things up with some new digs as well!
Fun activities make travel with kids much easier
Water Wow books: I was hesitant to even look into a travel item with the word “water” in it, (I mean, it’s hard enough to travel with kids without messy water activities!), but am I ever glad I did! These books are a ton of fun and not at all messy.
Audio Books: These are great, especially for kids who love to read, but get carsick!
What are good games for road trips?
Travel-sized games, such as Battle Ship and Connect 4 were a couple of my favorites growing up! I also remember playing “The License Plate Game” and calling out the States on every license plate I saw, for my parents to record. My goal was to find license plate from every single state!
Also, following your child’s interests will help you get through long trips. My oldest child, now 4, just got back from a Thanksgiving trip with my sister to my parent’s house. She’s a musical child and my sister thought to bring a small battery operated keyboard with her…it was a hit! If your child in into electronics, maybe a 3+ Snap Circuits kit is the way to go.
How do I plan a road trip with a child?
If you are driving, make sure to plan for plenty of stops. Kids need breaks, too! Whether it’s potty-ing, stretching, eating, or stopping to visit attractions, somewhat frequent, and well panned for, stops will help to break the trip up into smaller, more digestible bites.
Advice for flying with kids
Now, I will say that car trips and plane trips are two different beasts entirely. With the limited space and uncomfortable changes in air pressure on an airplane, I believe it’s more important to be flexible when it comes to keeping your little ones occupied.
If you are flying with your little one, don’t be shy about walking down the isles (when it’s safe, of course) and getting a little exercise and stretching in. Also, during a flight, it’s always been my experience that there will be people sitting near you that will enjoy talking to you and your child…if you see that you are sitting around a friendly crowd, take full advantage and strike up some conversations!
Whether your goal is to be screen-free or to just limit screen-time during your trip, you can do it! And if you falter and end up giving more screen-time during your journey than you hoped, just remember that this isn’t even a blip on the timeline of your child’s life. It is entirely possible to get back on track after you return home. I promise!
The trip will be long and stressful with or without screens. You can meet your goals, though, whatever they may be!
I’m hoping to get some feedback on how you travel with your little one(s), screen-free or not. How do you make the trip bearable?