The first time I went on a trip with my daughter she was just 14 days old. I remember sweating and sprinting across the airport, loaded down like a pack mule, praying that she wouldn’t cry on the plane.
By the time she was three years old, my daughter had traveled so much she tried to take off her shoes going through a metal detector in a county courthouse.Together, we have traveled coast to coast from Washington, D.C to California. We’ve hit tourist spots like Disney World and explored the small town charms of places just a short drive away.
I promised her a really big trip for her graduation. She’s currently debating between Spain and Hawaii. Lucky for me she has five years to make a decision.
So before you take off for summer vacation, here are a few strategies to help.
Get your kids excited about where you are going
Talk about it ahead of time. Tell them what you are going to do. Show them pictures of places you plan to visit if they are little. Let them help you pack.
Turn into your toddler
Toddlers spend all day asking you questions but when you travel ask THEM questions. It adds to the mystery of the trip and keeps them guessing. What’s going to be up these escalators? What is this guy going to say when we show him our tickets? I wonder how heavy our bags are? Let’s see! Where is our seat? Can you help me find it?
Kids will actually give thought to these questions and that will distract them from the fact that the line is moving slow or it’s hot in the plane.
Hangry is not a good look on anyone, especially a kid. Bring snacks. I know that requires extra planning but you will thank me when you aren’t spending five dollars on a protein bar at the airport (don’t even think about the hummus, it will break you!). You can teach them later not to eat just because they are bored.
My daughter and I eat healthy most of the time, so sometimes we break the rules with travel snacks because my daughter finds it adventurous.
Get them a surprise
You don’t have to spend a lot. It could be a notebook, new colored pencils, a stuffed animal, a fidget spinner, etc. Tell them you have it, but don’t tell them when they are going to get it. You can drag that out for a few hours! Just don’t be cruel and drag it out all day. Timing is everything.
Load up your digital devices with their favorite movies and TV shows
A long flight is not the time to be worried about too much screen activity. Buy them a special new set of headphones that you unveil on the plane. Trust me, they will want to use them right away.
Traveling with kids is most certainly an adventure. At the end of the day, the most important thing we parents can do to make it easier, is to make sure WE have the right attitude going into it including realistic expectations and a sense of fun.
Photo Credit: Allison Andrews