Jeremiah and I did it a lot; growing up, college years, married life, and now with kids.
By plane and by car.
I personally prefer my feet on the ground so we drive more but we have done a fair bit of air travel too.
Traveling with kids can feel overwhelming and stressful.
Here are some things we have learned that make traveling with our kids go smoother and be as enjoyable as possible.
First off I want to acknowledge the fact that each child is different. Personality can play a huge role into how your child travels. Please keep that in mind and give yourself and your kiddo grace along the way!
Our oldest daughter has been the “perfect traveler” ever since she was tiny. She is laid back, enjoys new things and is easily entertained. Our second, however, is a mover and very interactive with a shorter attention span. God gave them very different personalities and we are learning to work with both of them as we travel together.
Talk up your trip, days even weeks before. Be excited but also tell them what could be hard (long car rides, not being loud on the plane, etc.) We started prepping our girls about events at ages as early as one and it really seemed to help them calm down and do better when we would remind them what we had talked about. Little kids understand more than we give them credit for.
Novelty is King
Airline snacks are always a big hit with our girls because they are so unique. Nowhere else do you find airplane shaped graham cracker cookies. So stock up on goodies that are different than what you normally buy your kiddos.
Buy some activities that are new.
o Play dough (Bring along a cookie sheet for road trips)
o Sticker Books
It’s easy to hand over the ipad and it might seem to do the trick but kids need interaction with their parents to be content for long periods of time. With our kids, I have found, that if I give them media right away they wind up more cranky in the end. Rather, we save the media for last resorts and find they are happier longer and have an easier time when the devices go away. Talk to them, point out what you see, play I-spy, read a story, sing songs. It takes a lot more work on mom and dad’s part but in the long-game it’s totally worth it!
If and when we resort to media, try apps that you can play with your child or ones that encourage learning.
o Matching games where you can take turns with your kids to find the match.
o Games that teach colors, letters, numbers, small motor skills or problem solving.
Let them move
Air travel: I know the feeling of waking halfway across the airport and just wanting to collapse in a chair at your gate. But remember, if your kids are sitting now, they will want to move later so let them get their wiggles out whenever possible. When the seatbelt sign finally turns off while in flight, take the chance to follow your toddler up and down the aisle. That light is going to turn back on all too soon and your little one (and your ears) are not going to fare well if he hasn’t gotten any chance to move about.
Road trip: Your kiddo is actually happy or entertained when you pull into the gas station and the temptation to leave her in her car seat is strong. Don’t do it! Take every opportunity to let them stretch their legs even if it just means letting them climb around inside the car. It may mean a melt down when it comes time to buckle back up but in the long run it is better for their physical and mental stamina!
Most of all, pray and ask God for grace and help, wisdom and ideas! Prayer does not mean that everything will go hunky-dory the entire trip. However, God loves to answer our petitions, and prayer will put our hearts in the right place to extend love, patience and grace to our kids as we travel!