The #1 question that I get from other parents hands down revolves around how to travel effortlessly with kids. The truth is, children are completely unpredictable (if you haven’t figured that out by now!). While there’s no foolproof way to keep kids happy during road trips and long flights, I’ve found a few things that help keep Fox happy as a clam while we travel.
In the Car
- Pit stops – On our last trip through the UK, we had several 3-4 hour drives. We understood that Fox might get restless, so we planned towns along the way that looked promising to stop at for food or a park break. If the baby was sleeping we kept driving, if he seemed antsy we’d stop. It’s all about flexibility!
- Playlist – If your kids have shown favoritism towards any songs in particular, make them a playlist and keep it handy in the car. No matter how upset Fox was, he would always stop crying when he’d hear the song Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun. I don’t know what they put in that song, but it’s hypnotizing to him and I’m forever in debt to the songwriters 😉
- Be a backseat driver – Hey, it can get lonely back there! Sitting in the back with Fox helped him feel included and distracted him from some long stretches. We played peekaboo and blew kisses along the way.
On the Plane
- Find a playground at the airport – A lot of airports have playgrounds available to let kids run out their sillies before boarding. We found this especially helpful on a recent flight from Philly. Fox really dug the kid-sized airplane! If there’s no playground available, find an empty gate to spend some time (and energy) at.
- Feed on the way up and down – Little ears can start hurting once the pressure takes hold in the cabin. Give a bottle or sippy cup to children during takeoff and landing to avoid unnecessary pain (and a cranky ride).
- Travel light – We’ve had our highs and lows with packing. I’ve sat in the Zurich airport rearranging my bags to shift the weight around and avoid major baggage fees. I’ve broken wheels off my suitcase in Venice trying to carry my bag over stone bridges. I survived a heavy duffel bag in Japan with a large bruise on my shoulder to prove it. It was trial and error until I realized that packing light is where it’s at. Coming home from Ireland, we managed to skip customs lines entirely by using only carry ons — for a 2.5 week trip!
Where to Stay
- City centers – Although a bit more pricey, staying in a city center means you’re already surrounded by most of the sights on your to do list. If your kiddo needs some quiet time or you need to run back and get supplies, it’s comforting to know the hotel is nearby and that travel time is minimal. Plus, there’s no added expense of public transport or taxis, and no getting lost. Remember that time Tyler squeezed on the Tube without realizing Fox and I were not on board? Yeah, that happened!
- Middle of nowhere – On the contrary of the above, if your goal is to get some quiet time then park it in a desolate area! These are the best spots to let baby run and play without worrying about other people, noise levels, or traffic.
- Apartments – I’ve talked about this in a previous post, but apartments are a serious godsend. So much room to stretch out, separate rooms, and they usually offer laundry and kitchen facilities.
What to Bring
- Baby supplies – Most airlines allow you to bring your stroller on the plane for free. I suggest investing in a fabric stroller bag and stuffing it silly with diapers, wipes, blankets, and other fluffy things, packing as much baby food and snacks in the checked bags as possible. The last thing you want to do when arriving on vacation is to find a grocery store and get on the hunt for supplies, and by the time your stock runs out you’ll be on your way home with tons of room for souvenirs in your baggage.
- New toys – Head to the .99 cent store to pick up some cheap toys and hide them from your kids until you’re in the car/on the flight. Introduce slowly during the course of the trip and they’ll never get bored! If they get lost along the way (or you decide to toss), it won’t break the bank.
- Snacks – This is arguably the most important thing on my list of helpful items. From the moment Fox started with solids, we’ve always kept a small assortment of items on hand to aid in Fox’s insatiable appetite. My purse usually carries a banana, baby food pouches, and Gerber Lil’ Crunchies for on the go. Recently, Gerber launched a brand new product that’s a variation of the Crunchies, but made with beans and naturally flavored: Lil’ Beanies! I found these in the baby aisle at Target (one of my favorite spots to pick up supplies, clothes, and travel-sized product pre-trip), and I was really excited because it made me feel far less guilty about all the snacking Fox does on our treks. They carry Original and White Cheddar & Broccoli flavors and they deliver 2 grams of protein (9% Daily Value), 1 gram of fiber, and 10% Daily Value of Vitamin E per serving. This is an awesome product for short plane trips, because it’s no fuss to get through security, whereas food pouches are subject to extra screenings through security.
Do you have any travel tips for vacationing with kids? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!