Photo by Joe Mazzola
Yes, I’m crazy. Well, maybe not certifiably; but unhinged enough to think I can and should take my kids lots of places. Whether by plane, minivan, train or rental vehicle, I think it’s my duty to show my kids our world. From the get go I take them anywhere and everywhere I can to show them places that will give them a greater understanding of our world. I take them to places close to home, places dear to my heart and places that spark that spirit of adventure and wonder that lives deep in my soul.
People often ask me, “You took your kids WHERE?” and more often than not the answer is, “Yes!” The follow up question is almost always “How do you travel with small kids?” Well, dear friends, I’m going to share with you a couple of my tips. My top 5 to be almost exact. It actually takes more than just 5 tips to travel with small children. I would love to share with you all of my travel tips that I’ve accumulated through the years but here are 5 (or so) as an appetizer.
1. SNACKS – LOTS AND LOTS OF SNACKS – I’m talking enough to sustain a small village for a while. I’m also taking about the “good stuff.” Now is not the time to scrimp on the snacks. Bring the stuff they love, the stuff you don’t buy on a regular basis, the stuff they beg for in the market. We had a flight delay and a subsequent rerouting once that left us in an airport after all the retail shops had closed. I’ve never been so grateful for a stash of goldfish, skittles and bottled water in all my life.
2. ENTERTAINMENT – KEEP ‘EM BUSY. Get them something they’ve never seen before and it can be as simple as post it notes. An airline tray table and a package of post it notes can provide loads of entertainment. Kids can stick and unstuck those crazy fluorescent squares for quite a while. They can make patterns if you have multiple colors and when all of that fun is done – draw on them, make a picture that spans multiple post-its and BAM you have a puzzle for a toddler.
3. BE PREPARED – have extra everything – especially diapers. I repeat, always have extra diapers if you have a child that small. Once they became a bartering item, a currency if you will, on a trip when a flight of ours got cancelled leaving us stranded in Washington DC with 2 kids past bedtime. I traded diapers and wipes with a woman for jarred baby food. Her baby smelled and mine was hungry – problem solved.
4. KNOW YOUR GAME PLAN WHEN YOU ARRIVE – give the kids something to anticipate. My kiddos have always been thrilled at the prospect of scoping out their destination. We dream of what we will see and how we will see it. One easy way to get them excited is a ride in a motorcoach, train, trolley car, gondola or something that they normally don’t see in your own garage. One of my girls still talks about the trolley tour she took in Zurich. We loved feeling the fresh air in our faces in the open-aired trolley and learned a little about the city and its people. Ok, my husband and I learned about the city and its people – she tried to figure out how many pets she could spot.
5. PREPARE FOR THE WORST….HOPE FOR THE BEST – I always bring along current shot records and medical info from their last check up along with a small first aid kit with Tylenol, Motrin, a thermometer, band aids, Neosporin, etc. and a correct dosing chart for any and all medication per kid. Luckily, I have rarely had to use the kit. I think that’s because I have it with me at all times. The token trip I didn’t take it on, we ended up in a doctor’s office nearly 1,000 miles from home.
Ok so I promised 5 tips but I couldn’t stop at 5 so here’s a bonus one and arguably the most important:
6. HUMOR – if you don’t take along a large and healthy dose of humor you might as well stay home. Some of the best laughs of my marriage and my family have happened when we travel. How else could I have a photo like this one….
Author's Child Entering The Great State of Nebraska
What are your great travel tips with kids? Share your tips and tricks in comments below.