As cute as your kids can be, traveling with them can either be a total joy or fear — or a little bit of both. Whether it's air travel or a road trip, responsibility is high and travel expenses might pop up at any time during the trip.
Not to mention, factoring in your child's needs into travel plans includes a lot more than playing their favorite Sesame Street track and making a few dozen bathroom stops. With summer fast approaching and parents needing that well-deserved vacay from a long, hard winter, we share a few life-saving tips for traveling with your kids.
Create Family Friendly Trips
While you and your spouse dream of vineyards in Napa Valley, your children don't. Unless you're heading out on a romantic trip just for two, your children's needs must be a priority. Look into destinations that appeal to both parents and kids, and plan family activities together by booking ahead. In addition to fun and games, take into account the cost, convenience and lodging options. Some resorts, hotels, and cruises offer packages for families complete with options for entertainment.
Child Locator Devices and Apps
Before you think, you're not that parent — consider a child locator device for those days when they just happen to run off. If you have a kid who loves to explore or are traveling in the midst of a busy season, airports and train stations become incredibly crowded causing immense concern. Between Angel Sense, My Buddy Tag and Amber Alert GPS, get a child-locating device or app so you know where they are at all times. Of course, not all are cheap but they're great investments for that speedy toddler learning to run.
First Aid Relief
If it's your child's first major trip, you might not know how they will react on a plane or for long hours in a car. Have a first aid kit on hand containing anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medicine, along with pain and fever relief medicine. If your trip entails a lot of walking and nature, keep moleskin on hand and anti-itch cream in a satchel or purse for you and the kids, along with antibacterial wipes and travel size hand sanitizer for eating on the go. If your kids require any prescription medication, leave them in their original packaging and always bring a little more necessary for the duration of the trip.
Avoid Heavy Luggage
It's kind of hard to keep your luggage from getting heavy if the whole family travels, but packing is not as difficult as you might think. Make a list of all the items you would like to take on the trip and rank them by necessity — and don't forget your needs, mom! If your family is big, ask each of them to make their own list as this will help in deciding what is most essential to bring. Additionally, while you pack and organize luggage, let your kids pack what they want, but be sure to check it out before you get to the airport.
Anything can happen on a trip, so it's always wise to be prepared. By adding a few essentials into your luggage of your spouse and kids, and vice versa, cross packing is an effective way to ease anxiety for the worst case scenario — like missing luggage. This way, if things get misplaced or delayed along the way, you won't arrive to your destination, "naked and afraid." However, keep your ID, passports, reservations, and documents in a safe place like your carry-on or purse that you are able to access easily. If you don't want to keep too many papers on hand, look into travel apps like TripIt or TripCase that manage your itinerary in offline mode.
Keep Them Focused
While smartphones and tablets are great ways to keep children focused and away from meltdowns of "Are we there yet?" — if they're old enough, give them a camera! Not only does it encourage them to observe their environment and focus on their interests from their view of the world, but it can also be an interesting keepsake over the years if scrapbooked together.