Tag: traveling with kids

No Drama, Mama: 5 Tips for Traveling with Kids

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Nobody wants to be the humiliated parent of the kid behaving badly on the plane, bus or train. But children can be dramatic and overly-emotional, quickly escalating minor issues into major meltdowns.

Even car trips contained to family-only can be a nightmare for all if one child is feeling surly, irritable or bored, turning what should be a fun car trip into a long and tedious “Are we there yet?” journey.

To help avoid this unpleasant situation, we’ve compiled 5 useful tips below to keep your kids engaged and happy during travel.

 

1. Entertainment is King—

When it comes to activities to keep children engaged and mentally stimulated, there is no such thing as over-packing. Bring books, games, cards, puzzles, art supplies, handheld video game devices with multiple sets of extra batteries, laptops, portable DVD players and anything else that might help.

If you can buy new items purchased specifically for the trip that kids haven’t yet seen, this is obviously a great way to add some extra amusement.

Not only will keeping kids entertained prevent them from growing bored and cranky, if they have moved into tantrum-mode for any reason, one of the things you’ve brought to entertain might be a great way to redirect them out of a fit.

 

2. Hungry Kids are Grumpy Kids—

Sometimes in the fast-paced schedule of travel, we don’t have time or forget to eat, but kids can’t wait for the final destination for food like adults sometimes have to: they need steady blood sugar levels.

To keep them from getting grouchy, pack plenty of snacks, including protein like nuts for long-term energy. Novel snacks they don’t normally have at home can help entertain as well as feed them.

If you’re road-tripping, keeping a cooler with healthy fruits, sandwiches and drinks in the trunk will also save you money on restaurant food.

 

3. Carry-Ons Count—

If traveling via plane, pack as light as you can to give yourself a break (you’re already dealing with children… you don’t need excessive luggage), and be sure to put a change of clothes for each child in your carry-on luggage, including toothbrushes and toothpaste for all.

Most importantly, include loveys, pacifiers, blankets, stuffed toys or irreplaceable items kids won’t be able to sleep without, just in case your checked baggage is lost.

In short: If you can’t buy it in a store upon reaching your destination, keep it in the carry-on. If a child won’t sleep without their teddy bear, nobody will be getting any sleep.

 

4. Hotel Wisely—

When making reservations, do your research and try to find kid-friendly hotels with free breakfasts, or those with restaurants nearby offering discounted or free meals for children.

Also, triple-check sleeping situations before you leave to ensure the hotel rooms you’ve booked have adequate arrangements waiting for your family, such as enough beds, or cots available if needed.

You’re going to be tired when you get where you’re going—and nobody wants to have to sleep on the floor because the hotel doesn’t have a suitable room available.

 

5. Be the Duck—

Unfortunately, other traveling passengers sometimes seem to have forgotten that they, too, were once emotionally immature kids, and unrealistically expect children to behave like tiny adults in public. This only places more pressure on parents, stressing them out until children feed off of this anxiety, making everything worse.

Like water off a duck’s back, let the judgmental stares roll off your psyche, and don’t let snide comments, heavy sighs or rolling-eyes from other people make you feel bad. The opinions of strangers lacking empathy shouldn’t matter to you.

Remember that most of the people around you who’ve parented a young child during a rough moment feel nothing but sympathy for you, and only wish they had a snack or a toy to offer.

 

We can’t take emotionally immature children and magically expect them to grow up during inconvenient moments, because we all had to learn to be the (usually) well-behaved adults we are while traveling. But we can find ways to distract, redirect and entertain our kids so they can be at their personal best… at least until we get to the privacy of our homes or hotel rooms.

Use the helpful tips above to make your time spent traveling with kids as drama-free and pleasant as possible.

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Have a Tantrum-Free Trip: 5 Top Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Crying Toddler Photo Credit Tanya Little (2)Photo credit: Tanya Little

 

Most parents of toddlers realize the idea of “The Terrible Twos” is a myth most likely created to give exhausted moms and dads hope that the wild mood swings and emotional volatility will magically disappear once their children turn three.

What parents of three and four-year-olds know is that this is unfortunately not always true: sometimes all young children are capable of having a meltdown — especially during the uncertain, hectic and sometimes tedious experience of family travel.

 

Below are 5 top tips for tantrum-free travel with toddlers:

 

1. Mental Prep Makes Kids Mellow —

Establishing a routine is soothing for children, and one of the most upsetting things for them is straying from the schedule to which they’ve grown accustomed.

To keep the emotional turbulence out of your trip, prepare kids for change by talking about what to expect from the journey. Explaining the details ahead of time can prevent a meltdown caused by uncertainty and confusion.

Books and movies that discuss forms of travel can also be helpful for quelling fear of the unknown by showing kids what lies ahead.

 

2. The Early Bird Catches the Calm—

When flying with young children, it’s especially important to arrive early to the airport. If you’re anxious, your kids will feed off of your nervous energy, until your group has become a big ball of familial stress.

Print boarding passes before you get to the airport if possible, and get through security and settled into your waiting gate area with plenty of time. This will keep the entire family calm and cheerful, and allow kids a chance to exercise by exploring the airport before having to sit still for hours.

 

3. Entertainment is Everything—

Toddlers are not tiny adults, and lack the emotional maturity to be able to sit still for long periods of time without entertainment. Kids acting out because they’re bored aren’t being “bad,” they’re simply being kids.

By properly preparing to keep children engaged, outbursts over being confined can be completely negated. Activities without small pieces to fall on dirty floors, books, magazines, handheld videogames, portable DVD players and the novelty of your usually-off-limits cell phone can all be great ways to keep kids busy.

Remember to bring extra batteries and headphones, and charge all technology ahead of time. Non-sugary snacks like pretzels, popcorn and crackers can also entertain while keeping blood sugar levels even — and don’t forget to bring plenty of wet wipes.

 

4. It’s Potty Time—

Even adults can have trouble holding it during “please stay seated” moments of air travel, or stretches of land travel without restrooms, so recently potty-trained little ones can be very impacted by this loss of freedom.

Anytime the seatbelt sign on a plane turns off is a good time to take a toddler to use the restroom. Even if they don’t need to go, just getting up to walk the aisles can be a great way to get exercise.

If traveling by car, take advantage of rest stops to allow kids to use the bathroom and run around in safe areas, and always bring extra clothes in case of spills or accidents.

 

5. Positive Presentation—

A friendly attitude will get you everywhere when traveling with toddlers. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many parents and grandparents of other children will want to help make your trip stress-free, and may assist in surprising ways if you seem approachable.

Dress yourself and children in clean, nice clothing, and even if your child is having a poor behavioral moment, try to stay chipper. It’s hard when you’re feeling embarrassed and self-conscious, but if you become grumpy yourself, it will only make things worse.

Remember that if your child is throwing a fit, it’s not a reflection of your parenting skills; it’s simply a child having an age-appropriate moment. Anyone with children understands this, and those who don’t will get it someday if they decide to have kids. Take deep breaths and stay calm, even if your toddler is upset.

 

Common tantrum triggers like being placed into unknown surroundings, and situations that involve long periods of restraint are necessary parts of traveling long distances with kids, making it extremely important to be prepared. With the tantrum-averting tips above in your parenting arsenal, you can make any trip stress-free for your toddlers, yourselves and the other travelers around you.