My Top 5 Tips For Traveling With Children
Traveling with kids can be bond-building experience for everyone, but it’s also challenging! Beyond delays, you’re forced to consider sleep schedules, picky eaters, hangry moods, short attention spans, meltdowns, and more! I’m sharing a few tips and tricks that have made traveling with my own kids smoother and more enjoyable throughout the years.
by Nina Westbrook
Prep With a Pep Talk. If we’re about to do something that requires a lot of attention and cooperation from my kids, we discuss it beforehand as a family. Kids do much better when they know what to expect. Talk to your children prior to leaving your home, and help get them excited about your destination and the process of traveling: checking in, security lines, waiting areas, boarding the plane, lengthy car rides, accommodations, and trip activities. Let your kids ask questions. When it’s officially time to take to the skies (or hit the road), you’ll enjoy discussing everything you prepped them for as you experience things first-hand.
Consider the Kid-Curated Carry-On. We encourage our children to pack a small backpack that they will carry on their own. And then we let them take the lead in selecting the bag’s contents: a few of their favorite (small) toys, coloring activities, snacks, and water. It’s amazing how kids take pride in this process. Managing their bag and being responsible for the belongings inside becomes their own little adventure.
Embrace No-Guilt Screen Time. If there were ever a good time to engage in screen time, it would be on a flight or a lengthy drive. Depending on your child’s age, sitting for a significant period of time will require some serious entertainment and incentives. Try using a timer and setting a loose schedule for screen time with intermittent breaks to avoid cranky moods and to give their eyes a break.
Plan for Setbacks. We all know that delays and hiccups are part of travel, so be sure to factor those in and set realistic expectations for yourself and your children. If you’re like me, it can be so frustrating when things don’t go according to schedule. When planning for your trip, reflect on the habits that help you stay centered when you’re at home. How can you incorporate those habits into your travel routine, even in modified form? Do you need to set aside five minutes to meditate each morning? Do you need to take time away to exercise each day? Set an intention at the beginning of your trip to care for yourself and to stay flexible. When unexpected setbacks happen, model for your children how to respond authentically and calmly.
Try to Stay Present. Whether your family trip is full of joyful moments or seems harder than it should be, do your best to stay in the moment and accept what is happening in all of its messiness and beauty. We talk a lot about mindfulness on Bene, and travel is a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness and reap its benefits. Remember that mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in a given moment. You don’t have to change how you’re feeling, especially in stressful times—rather notice how you’re feeling and breathe.
I hope you find these tips helpful. What are your go-to strategies for family travel? Leave them in the comments below!