And the prospect of traveling with your children can seem very daunting.
We’ve all seen it — perhaps we’ve been it — the frazzled mom, the frustrated dad and the screaming child. Another common site at airports around the world: the mom carrying a baby in one arm with a diaper bag in the other, while dad is rushing alongside carrying a car seat over one shoulder and another child over the other with a booster seat in hand. To a lot of parents, just the thought of traveling with their children makes them want to stay home.
Is it any wonder?
From all the gear you have to haul to pushing your family through security (after waiting in line), from making sure you have the binky and a backup to trying to fit your car seat in an unfamiliar rental while your child is whining from exhaustion; traveling with children is stressful.
But we have places to go, family to see and so we go.
We love traveling and we wanted to raise our kids with an appreciation for different cultures and different people. So we have taken our children on adventures as far as Fiji. It was just two then and they were 4 and 2 (almost 3).
By that time, they had already flown several times — we flew with all of them at only a few months old. Since then they have become quite the travel pros.
Plus, what better way to learn patience and flexibility than the plentiful opportunities traveling offers?
But stress-free travel has to do with more than them learning the ropes. Over the years we have learned a great deal about keeping travel easy.
1. Plan ahead. Have everything packed and ready to go with a written list of what last minute things need to be done prior to leaving. When you travel with kids, make sure to have some snacks on hand in your carry-on, don’t plan on getting something at the airport just in case you run out of time or, like our kids, your kids can’t find anything they like to eat. We even keep our toiletry kits pre-packed; one ready for if we check bags and one ready for carry-on bags.
2. Bring only what is necessary. With children there’s enough necessary items to bring without adding in unnecessary ones. Our rule for our children is anything they bring (snacks, toys, etc.) has to fit in their backpack and they have to be able to carry the backpacks themselves. If we do carry-on, they wheel their own suitcases through the airport. They also carry their own “car seat”. They use a RideSafer Travel Vest, which is so lightweight they attach to their backpack. The vest is a booster seat alternative which is easy, safe and convenient especially for when you travel with kids.
(The RideSafer manufacturer is working on getting the vest approved for use on the plane. That means it can go from being used in your car, to being used on the plane, to being used upon arrival in whatever rental, taxi or other vehicle you are taking.)
3. Keep calm. This may be the biggest tip to stress-free travel with kids. Stuff happens; delays happen, lines happen, junk food and skipped naps happen. Just realize it happens and it’s only a day or two in your life. Keep a positive attitude and remain flexible, this will help your children do the same.
Traveling is an adventure, especially for and with children. Let’s keep it that way.