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I know many people who love to travel who after having their first baby now say that it is just crazy to think about traveling with their kids. Sure they go to grandma’s house for Christmas or other family events but they have decided there is no way that they could travel like they used to and enjoy themselves. In this article, I would like to introduce 101 tips for travelling with kids that all parents should know!

Why?

You may be in this category.  Stuck at home until your kids are a least in the tween years,  you may be a bit more daring but still not sure how to navigate the airlines, rental cars and hotels with your toddler or baby. Or maybe you are an experienced traveler considering starting a family but afraid you will lose the travel that you love. I am here to tell you that it is possible, and more than that…it is awesome!

Here is a brief primer on how to start traveling with your kids. I am going to cover four major categories and give some tips that should make your travels smoother. This is not a complete list by any means, but hopefully this gives you enough to venture out there and see the world with your kids.

Transportation

Weather traveling by plane, train or automobile there is no getting around this one and it the most daunting part of traveling with kids. You have heard or lived the horror stories of babies screaming uncontrollably on the plane for hours, the nightmare of TSA with strollers, bottles etc. These stories unfortunately aren’t all fish tales. I wish they were, but the fact is that they happen. From my experience they can be almost entirely avoided. Here are some quick tips to make getting to your destination not miserable. (I am not going to promise that it will be fun!)

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Scrap the Schedule and Just Survive 

  • We all love our routines and especially with young kids it it important that they nap, eat, play on their schedule. BUT…on your travel days scrap the plan and just survive. If the kids are hungry feed them even if they just ate. If a bottle is going to make the baby stop crying let them have it and by all means if they are tired and fall asleep let them sleep! You can get back on your schedule when you are settled in your hotel.
  • Try to start your travel day early. This will help with naps during the day and help little ones fall asleep easier in a new place that night.

Bring along plenty of entertainment 

  • We usually bring a DVD player with some favorite movies. If you are already bringing a laptop with movies use that and save the space. Just don’t plan on getting any work done on the way…actually even if the kids don’t have the computer, don’t plan on doing any work.
  • Load up your iPhone with games.
  • Fill a small backpack for each child full of toys that they like.
  • We often buy new small toys that will be exciting and I keep them in a my carry-on to bring out if they get tired of the other toys.
  • Try singing in the car or playing games with the kids. The important thing is to break up the boredom. Change things up and rotate entertainment. Sing then play games then watch a movie then nap then stop…repeat.

Also check out these additional posts for more tips:

Gear 

Having the right gear with you will make a huge difference. It is very important to evaluate what you take in light of two parameters; what you will be doing and how you are getting there. If you are flying then your packing is very limited. You don’t want to pay a fortune to take all the items that you might use. If you are going by car or train you have more flexibility. Secondly you want to think about all the activities you have planned and the conditions you will be living under. If you are staying in a hotel they will have cribs or cots, so you don’t need to bring your own pack and play for example. If you are going to be visiting a new city and walking to see the sights a sturdy, comfortable stroller will be worth the hassle it is to pack. Here are a few guidelines and things to consider.

  • Don’t bring everything–I know it is tempting to think you “need” all the items you use at home, but try to figure out what you could do without for a few days. You aren’t swearing off the bottle warmer, but you could probably get by for a few days without it.
  • Unless you are going to the wilderness you can buy things at your destination-– Think about things that you can easily buy once you get to where you are going. Diapers, wipes, food etc…just bring enough to get you there.
  • Which Stroller?–If you plan on seeing the sights by foot there’s a good chance the kids will probably be doing some sleeping in the stroller. Bring a good stroller that they are comfortable in. You might consider bringing a backpack or front carrier if you can carry them for long distances. If you are going to be in cabs and public transportation then maybe you can leave the stroller at home.
  • Car Seats–I personally hate bringing a car seat. It is bulky, heavy and generally annoying. If you are going on a long flight then they are worth it. Especially if you kids are used to sleeping in them. If you are going to fly with them consider getting a wheeled carrier that will turn it into a stroller for use in the airport. Having said that…most of the time they aren’t worth taking. Rental car companies will have them available –often at no charge. You should also check with your hotel.  A lot of hotels have car seats available for guests.  Most cabs won’t have them, but technically in most places you aren’t required to use them in a cab…go figure!
  • Bring some comfort items–Create some space in your bags or car for a few familiar things from home. It could be blankets, pillows, stuffed animals. This will help your little ones feel more comfortable and ease the anxiety they might be feeling.

Hotels/Accommodations

This is a big adjustment. When my husband and I traveled together we loved trendy hotels with cool furniture and an awesome lounge. Now we like places with a pool and large rooms. We much prefer older and bigger to trend and small. Space is king when you are traveling with your family. Look for hotels with suites or large closets that you can put a crib. Consider amenities such as a pool. Kids love a pool and you will get much more value out of your hotel if it has one. We also still like places that are either close to cool bars/lounges or have one in them. If your kids are asleep at 7:30 one parent can go down to the restaurant while the other is on baby duty. Switch off and you won’t get stir crazy.

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General Tips:

This is a different kind of travel. It isn’t going to look like the travel of your single life, but it can be just as fun and rewarding. Think about what your kids would like to do. The activities that they would enjoy and try to  incorporate them. Parks, markets, zoos and aquariums are great stops. Think about where you will eat and make sure you will feel comfortable having kids there.

There is so much to see and do don’t let a little one keep you at home. Take them along and foster in them a lifelong love of travel. It will be one of the best things you have ever done for them and you!

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