Traveling for hours on end can be hard enough for adults but for children the frustration and boredom can be tenfold. Whether you’re heading off on an epic road trip or facing a grueling long-haul flight, here’s everything you need to know…
Tire Them Out…
Sitting in a car or plane seat for hours is the stuff of nightmares for most small kids. The best thing you can do is tire them out before you leave. Take a trip to the park or find the play area at the airport. Twenty minutes climbing around a soft play section is the perfect pre-flight prep for a high-energy toddler. If this isn’t possible then allow your child to roam around the airport concourse exploring. Or encourage them to spot airplanes from the terminal window. Resist the temptation to hand them the iPad at this stage – that gadget is going to be a firm friend a little later!
If traveling by car, factor in time for regular breaks. If you have a toddler you’ll likely need to stop every two to three hours for everyone’s sanity. Consider taking a quick detour to a park, playground, attraction or water park. Check out Yelp and roadtrippers.com to help pick something outdoorsy and fun.
Stock Up On Snacks
When the going gets tough, grab the snacks! Every mom knows that goldfish crackers soothe a multitude of upsets. Having a selection of tasty goodies on hand will help to appease your child during those tough moments on the road or in the air. If you are flying, be sure to pack apple juice cartons, fruit pouches or fruit snacks for take off and landing. Our ears often pop as the air pressure changes and for little people it can be painful. The best thing they can do is sip or chew at this time as the motion of swallowing helps to unblock their ears. If you have a baby you can also help by nursing or bottle-feeding during the plane’s rise and descent.
Pack Spare Clothes For EVERYONE
As moms we are well used to packing spare items of clothing for our little ones but we often fail to think about ourselves. Don’t be the mom who has nothing to wear after her child vomits on her two hours into an eight-hour flight. Squeeze at least one change of clothing into your hand luggage.
Load Up The Tablet
Car rides can be boring and not every plane has in-flight entertainment, so be sure to take a tablet packed full of films, TV shows and games to keep your child entertained. You could even buy them a new pair of headphones as a surprise to get them excited about the journey ahead.
In the weeks before your trip squirrel away some goodies to be unveiled on the trip. Having new crayons, stickers or toys to play with will help relieve the dull moments en route. Check out Womensforum’s suggestion for best road trip toys here. Invest in a sing-along nursery rhyme CD for the car or get the family motivated with a game of ‘I spy’.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Traveling with kids is hard, particularly if they are very young. The change from their usual routine can be stimulating causing your baby or toddler to miss naps and become wired and irritable. If your two-year-old has an epic meltdown don’t panic or despair. Take a deep breath and think about how the situation can be resolved. Is there a rest stop nearby or could you call upon a flight attendant for help? Remember it is unlikely anyone is judging you. Your fellow travelers probably empathize more than you know.
Charlotte Ward is a British writer, tree hugger and toddler entertainer. She is based in California where she can be found enjoying the outdoor life with her husband, son and hyperactive dog-child.