Every person who has even been on a plane has a “horror story” about the kids on that plane. Any parent who has ever tried to road trip with a child knows that once the CDs full of children’s music runs out, or the iPad needs charging, then you’re in for some serious kid drama. Let’s not even begin to mention the problem of missing regular naps that comes with travel. But, guess what, it doesn’t have to be that way if you plan in advance…and I won’t lie…it does take a lot of planning! Here are seven tips that worked for me on my last wonderful trip to Arizona, and hopefully they will work for you too!
- Don’t rush it. The worst thing you can do is be in a hurry and worry too much. Plan in extra time for the tantrums and mishaps that are just part of having kids—not just a part of traveling with kids. This goes double if you are traveling by plane. You know that just when you need a kid to hurry up is when he’s going to dig in his or her heels.
- Let them document the expedition. This little trick can be a lifesaver for anyone. Pick up an inexpensive made-for-kids-camera and let them snap pictures all along the way. It will keep them occupied and will be a great way to see the vacation through their eyes. Your kid will also love to tell friends and family members about the pictures when you return.
- Get some kid-centered apps. When you need a moment to figure out whether or not you’re in the right terminal, set them in a chair with your tablet and a game. They’ll stay put and it will give you a second to relish in the quiet joy that comes with a kid being glued to an electronic device. If you have a strict policy against kids and electronics, a trip is the perfect time to bend the rules.
- Add some item-free games to your arsenal. I-Spy and the alphabet game are a great way to hold a child’s interest, even if toys and technology aren’t.
- Snacks, not sweets. Not only will everyone else on the plane give you the stink eye if they see you handing your kid a loot of sugary treats, you’re not going to love the sugar rush, either. Stick to savory snacks like cheese and dried fruit. Keeping that blood sugar stable is sure to help keep your child’s temperament even.
- Give them a sharpie tattoo. If you’re going to be going through any place where you are likely to get separated (like a bus station or airport), don’t be afraid to sharpie your cellphone number on the kid’s arm. It’s way more reliable than trying to get them to memorize it, and it may be a fun activity for the ride. If you aren’t into body art, consider buying a cheap t-shirt and coloring on the sleeve.
- Wipes! Portable, hundreds of uses, great for the whole family. Also, pack some Clorox wipes for the plane. You never know what sickness was lurking in the plane seat before you. I always wipe down the seat and tray table before sitting and letting my kid sit there. It’s a good way to avoid germs.
Traveling with kids can actually be fun—for both of you. Making a few simple preparations makes traveling with even the fussiest kid a breeze, no matter how many airports you have to lay over or how many truck stops you endure.