Travel

How to survive traveling with children

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Image: Photobac/shutterstock.com

Traveling with children can seem like a nightmare. Let’s face it, children have constant needs that sometimes get in the way of perfectly scheduled plans. With toilet breaks, intermittent feeding times, and temper tantrums, it’s no wonder that parents often choose to keeps the kids at home with grandma and grandpa. But traveling with kids isn’t impossible. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be stressful or disastrous. All it takes is mindful preparation and a thorough understanding of the possible challenges from point A to point B. So let’s ditch those mapped out agendas, give ourselves some time and perspective, and bring the kids along for the ride. Check out these do’s and don’ts for a successful, pleasant family adventure.

Do your research before the trip.

Discover what types of specific challenges might be involved in the journey. Will you need to bring a stroller? Will there be access to bathrooms? Do you need to purchase an extra ticket for your child, or can he or she sit on your lap? How long will the journey be, and will your children need to eat while in transit? Can families with young children board early? Is your kid old enough to wear a backpack with extra necessities (snacks, change of clothes, diapering supplies, etc)?

Don’t expect to keep a tight agenda.

Kids, by nature, are full of surprises. Leave plenty early, keep the general outline of the day in mind, and let go. If you give yourself the time and space to enjoy the journey, it’ll be a lot more fun.

Do prepare your children for the trip, emotionally and physically.

Have you bought a new stroller? Test it out! Is your child new to carrying a backpack? Have them practice wearing it with mock-contents inside. Is your child easily frightened in new situations? Talk them through the process for several days before the trip. You can also purchase items, such as weighted blankets, that help with stress.

Don’t expect too much from your kids.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the adult world, where bathroom breaks are non-issues and stress is handled with a glass of wine. Remember, your children are new to this. Humans aren’t born with some innate knowledge on how to sit for six hours on an airplane. Your kids developmentally need your guidance and emotional support, which is how they master new tasks with confidence and self-esteem. Have fun with it, while keeping their age in mind.

Don’t worry about perfection.

Movies and TV shows teach us the wrong message about real life. You’ll probably want to wear comfortable clothes and not six-inch heels, your kids might throw a random tantrum in public, and luggage might fall off your cart. All of this is perfectly normal, despite what we see in the media. Don’t be afraid to parent your child in front of other people. Most people will probably be giving you a silent “thumbs up” if you do. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to breastfeed if the need arises. It’s normal. You’re normal. And you got this!

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r