We have become pros at the long road trip with kids. We make the 4 hour drive to Pittsburgh multiple times a year and each time it seems to get easier. In May, we crossed flying with kids off our travel list. And you know what? We all survived. I was so nervous and thought we would have a meltdown or two. But it was smooth sailing.
While traveling with young children can be a challenge, the trick is to make traveling fun and exciting for children while keeping them entertained and their tummies full. This is especially helpful on long trips in a car, airplane, or train. Think about it? It’s really hard for them to sit in one confined position for a long period of time. I mean, it’s hard for me to sit in one confined position for a long time!
With boredom, comes restlessness, and with hunger comes crankiness. This can be a deadly combination make for unpleasant trip, not only for the children, but for everyone traveling together. If you take some time to prepare before embarking upon a long traveling venture, you might have a much happier experience.
Pack Travel Bags
Pack a travel bag specific to each of your children. I like to use their backpacks but you can use any bag. This gives them a responsibility, especially when flying.
Some important items to remember are your child’s favorite stuffed animal, blanket, and toys. Nothing comforts a child more than his or her favorite blanket and stuffed animal. Just these items alone can make a big difference when traveling. My boys have several of these but for our trip to Legoland, we only allowed them one blanket and one stuffed animal. There wasn’t a lot of room for all of their lovies but, most importantly, I didn’t want to lose any of them!
Also include snacks and water in spill proof containers, like this GoStak, for those in-between moments when your child may be suddenly hungry or thirsty. This may help in keeping your child satisfied until the next available meal time.
Bring Along Activity Books
Bring along new coloring books and other fun writing activity books that your child can draw, write, and color in. Remember to also bring the colors, pens, and pencils along.
The importance here is that these activity books are new. The reason for this is that your child will be more excited and entertained with something new, than drawing books that have already been marked up. For our flight, I bought Ben a Dinosaur sticker book to do.
Purchase Toys and Games Designed for Traveling
To avoid the crying or nagging of dropped toys or other items, purchase games and activity centers that are designed specifically for traveling. These items will usually have pens attached by a string to an activity book, and have magnetic pieces for games or puzzles. I found these travel games in the dollar section at Target! You can also grab similar ones on Amazon.
By keeping everything within your child’s reach, and taking precautions for the unexpected, your child may have so much fun that he or she will not even realize how long you’ve been traveling. Having a variety of different engaging toys and games are even great for children to enjoy together.
Bring Along Electronic Items
Both older and younger children enjoy electronic items, such as DVD players, music players, and handheld gaming systems. Depending on the age of your child, a movie, for example, can easily deliver two hours of non-stop entertainment. We downloaded movies to our tablets to keep the boys occupied on the plane. And it worked! If you are bringing the electronics,make sure you pack extra chargers! Keep your chargers bundled with binder clips and store them in an eyeglass case.
You may also want to invest in some headphones for the kids as well. We bought both boys new headphones for our flight. If they want to watch the same movie, get a splitter. They can watch on the same tablet but with their own headphones.
Keeping children entertained when traveling is easy with some pre-planning. Children love to be busy seeing things and doing things, so making frequent stops if traveling by car can also be a great way to break up a long trip. Be creative and think from your child’s perspective. After all, no one knows what your child loves more than you.