If you know someone that says they love traveling with their kids, chances are you think they’re either lying, or are just lucky to have incredibly well-adjusted kids. There’s a third possibility, though. This is that they’ve mastered the ways of stress-free family travel. By following these simple tips, you too can accomplish that enviable feat.
Make your kids look forward to the journey
Kids are more agreeable on vacation if they’re looking forward to it. If you’re going on a vacation, make sure you include some attractions for kids in your itinerary. Before setting out, you can get the kids excited by showing them pictures and videos of the places they will be visiting.
Planning a family vacation with teenagers is a lot trickier. You can’t get them excited about places that don’t excite them. The best way to get them to look forward to a family vacation is to take their inputs and try to work in locations they want to visit.
If you’re traveling for a reason other than a vacation, like to visit friends or family, you can still get the younger kids excited by talking about the people they’re going to meet, or the different lifestyles they’ll experience.
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Pick the accommodations with care
Your choice of travel accommodations should factor in your kids’ age. The hotel or rental you plan to stay at should offer kid-friendly amenities such as board games, a children’s park, and a swimming pool.
When traveling with teenagers, or kids who’re hooked to the smartphone, double-check whether the hotel has free Wi-Fi and a good network. If possible, avoid making reservations at remote hotels where such facilities may be scarce.
Get a small stroller
Large, or even regular-sized baby strollers can be a hassle at crowded locations like the airport entrance and exit. Choose a lighter, smaller stroller for your travels.
If you have more than one kid to supervise, consider using a backpack-style child safety harness. If you don’t like the idea of having your little ones on a leash, you can use the harness only when absolutely necessary. A child safety harness can drastically reduce the risk of losing little kids in a crowd.
Plan your flight schedule with care
If you’re flying with children, it’s essential that you do your best to book direct flights. While direct flights can be more expensive, they can save you the stress of running through the airport with kids.
When buying flight tickets, be mindful of the time of departure and arrival. Flights leaving early tend to be less crowded. Kids are also more likely to fall asleep on early morning flights, allowing for a peaceful few hours of traveling.
Flights that will land you at your destination later in the day are great for dealing with jet lag. If you reach your hotel late in the afternoon or evening, you can just grab dinner, get into bed, and find yourself on local time the next morning.
Allow the kids to make some decisions
Kids of all ages love getting a say. Getting to make small decisions such as picking the food or drinks, deciding the order of the day’s activities, and the channel to watch on TV are enough to keep young children happy.
Hard-to-please teenagers can be placated to an extent by allowing them to explore safe surroundings on their own. Ask for their opinion when choosing between different places of interest, the activities you engage in, and welcome their suggestions in general.
Be prepared for disruptions
When you’re traveling with kids, disruptions are normal. At least a few things won’t go according to plan. Whether it’s a flat tire or an airport layover, you should be prepared for virtually everything. Make sure you’re always carrying enough snacks for your kids, keep an eye on your rations, and re-stock whenever you get the opportunity.
If you’re traveling with toddlers, stay well-stocked on hygiene essentials such as diapers, wet wipes and a change of clothes. Be sure you’re carrying enough food and pacifiers as well.
If your kids enjoy board games, handheld gaming consoles, or listening to music, you should ensure you’re packing these in your travel bag. Having these items at hand during flight delays or other hold-ups will help you keep the kids calm and entertained while you decide on your next move.
Split the responsibilities
Splitting the responsibilities will significantly lessen your stress levels. If you’ve got one or more adults traveling with you, splitting travel duties and taking turns watching the kids can be a big relief.
Those who are on the road or in the air with one or more teenagers and younger kids should look to share some of their duties with the teenagers. This will also keep your older kids occupied for a while.
Ration some ‘me-time’
Don’t forget to take some ‘me-time.’ Whether it’s reading your book when the kids are asleep, or enjoying some time in the sun while the kids engage in supervised playtime, taking a little time for yourself will allow you to unwind and enjoy your travels.
Look for activities that interest the entire family
Stress-free family travel is only possible when everyone in the family is involved in what you’re doing. These activities could be anything from short excursions, watching a movie, and arts and crafts activities, to simply having a little picnic at the local park.
Just make sure none of your pack feels left out or bored. While it’s definitely a tough task, you’ll only get better at it with practice.
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Be prepared for cabin air pressure
If your child has had a cold or ear infection in the recent past, make sure you get them checked by the doctor before booking your flight tickets. The changes in cabin air pressure as the plane ascends and descends can cause discomfort to young kids suffering from mucus buildup caused by a cold or ear infection.
The air inside an airplane is drier than the air outside, and can thicken any mucus present inside the kids’ nasal cavities. In some instances, the changes in air pressure can even cause a tear in the eardrums.
Here are some ways to deal with cabin air pressure-related issues:
- Have your kid drink non-caffeinated liquids, such as fruit juices and water, at regular intervals. The act of swallowing opens the kid’s Eustachian tubes to help regulate the air pressure in their middle ear according to the air pressure outside. This will automatically reduce the discomfort caused to the child by air pressure variations.
- Giving kids older than three years of age some gum or hard candy is a simple way of minimizing ear pain during a flight.
- If your kid is on medication that includes decongestants or antihistamines, ask your doctor whether the child should continue the medications while on a flight.
Stress-free travel with kids isn’t as impossible as many people think. It all comes down to being prepared, keeping the kids engaged, having travel insurance, and focusing on enjoying your precious family time.
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