Family Travel: Tips for traveling with children

[ 6 ] February 26, 2009 |

Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness–and of patience.  Below are some helpful hints for traveling with children.

suitcasesBEFORE LEAVING: Build anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar and by explaining the travel day occurrences. In a carry-on bag, strategically pack snacks, gum, pacifiers, bottles, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers, games, and perhaps a surprise toy for each child. You are allowed to carry on one one-quart Ziploc bag filled with three-ounce containers. (Remember 3-1-1)

AT THE AIRPORT: Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last-minute delays and confusion, especially with the new security regulations. Review screening procedures with children before entering security checkpoints so they will not be frightened by the process. Everything MUST go through the security checkpoint. To speed the process along, remove children from their strollers/infant carriers and collapse/fold the equipment. You should also pull out any DVD players or computers and take off all jackets and shoes. When going through metal detectors with an infant, have one parent hold the baby and walk through the machine. Children who can walk should pass through the metal detector independently.

ON THE FLIGHT: Bring a child/infant seat on board for children weighing less than forty pounds. Place children away from the aisle, preferably between responsible adults. Also, remember to get up, stretch, and walk around with kids several times during the flight, but do not allow children to walk around the plane unsupervised.

CAR RENTALS: Plan ahead with the rental company to make sure it offers car seats and installation. If not, you’ll have to bring your own in addition to a collapsible stroller.

IF TRAVELING BY CAR: Make car travel comfortable by bringing pillows and blankets. Stop frequently at rest stops to stretch and use the bathroom. Play games like “I Spy.” Make sure the car is stocked with paper, pencils, plenty of engaging toys, and tapes or CDs of their favorite songs or books.

ONCE THERE: Have a daily schedule planned with some flexible, free time for each family member. Provide friends or relatives at home with phone numbers and addresses of hotels where the family will stay, plus transportation and emergency contact information.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Maintain a good sense of humor while traveling to give your children a vacation to remember in spite of any unforeseen obstacles. Remember that problems do arise and accidents do happen, but being prepared and keeping these travel tips in mind may help avoid hassles and undue stress.

Kathy Bennett has been traveling since she was born. Her passion for travel and her knack for being organized, as well as a desire to work from home to be with her young children, prompted Kathy to start Ticket To Travel, a Rhode Island-based, full-service travel agency focusing on providing clients with a carefully planned, enjoyable, and memorable vacation that is as stress-free as possible.

Category: travel with kids


Anisa Raoof

about the author ()

Anisa Raoof is the publisher of Kidoinfo.com. She combines being a mom with her experience as an artist, designer, psych researcher and former co-director of the Providence Craft Show to create the go-to spot for families in Rhode Island and beyond. She loves using social media to connect parents with family-related businesses and services and promoting ways for parents to engage offline with their kids. Anisa believes in the power of working together and loves to find ways to collaborate with others. An online enthusiast, still likes to unplug often by reading books and magazines, drawing, learning to knit, making pop-up books with her two sons and listening to records with her husband.

Comments (6)

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  1. Kathy, great article! I don’t even take my kids to the grocery store, if I can avoid it. Maybe with these tips I’ll become a little more adventurous!!

    Thanks for posting, Anisa! Great stuff, as usual.

  2. Jaci Arnone Jaci says:

    Great tips, thanks!

    Having just survived a traveling nightmare last weekend (flying solo cross country with the kids on the red eye, only to be held up at our stop over for over 10 hours), I have one more tip to share.
    Each of the kids had a backpack with a small blanket and travel-sized pillow. I meant them to be used on the plane, but ended up making beds on the floor at the airport & they slept for almost 3 hours.

    I would suggest always having supplies for extended delays…blankets, pillows, change of clothes, and healthy snacks. Pack for the unexpected!

  3. calendar katharine says:

    An idea for plane travel: bring a bag of Hershey’s Kisses or similar mainstream, well liked treat to hand out if your child is a screamer–to help people chill out about the presence of a loud child on board. This is not my own idea–just something I read and remembered and intend to do.

  4. Jamie says:

    Great tips! I cant live without my GoGoKidz Travelmates. They turn our carseats into strollers and make getting around the airport easy and fun. They are a little pricey, but if you fly at least once a year I think they are worth it.

  5. Marcia M. Fowler Marcia says:

    On our most recent airplane trip with a toddler, we were told the car seat has to be placed next to the window, allowing easy access for the adult to exit.

    All these tips are really helpful!

  6. margaret says:

    I just listed my sit and stroll on craig’s list! I guess like the Go GoKidz, I would stroll through the airport (actually, he would push it through the airport, which helped burn off energy between flights), onto the plane as a seat and then in my dad’s car or the rental car. It really helped ease my burden.

    And yes, snacks snacks, but most importantly, when I began to freak out I could calm down but, you’ve heard it a million times: just staying in the moment.

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