Traveling with kids?! Are you terrified and already dreading it, assuming the kids will be horrible and ruin your will to live?! Well, never fear because I have some ideas that might make it more manageable, and potentially save your life (and their’s). This doesn’t sound dramatic at all, does it?! LOL!
Disclosure – Any and all opinions expressed are that of Miranda in Charlotte. No compensation was received for this post. However please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase using the Amazon link.
Here’s the deal. And I’m not trying to get too deep here, but I think it’s worth noting that…
1. kids pick up on your vibe
2. kids rise (or lower) to the expectation you set for them
If you are a stress ball who assumes that everything is going to hell in a hand basket, and that there is NO WAY your kids are going to be good while in the car/on the plane, I can almost guarantee it’s going to be a shit show. BUT, if you try to stay calm, laugh along the way, and consistently say “yall are gonna be awesome and I can’t wait to see this amazing behavior,” maybe it’ll actually be okay (or at the very least, better than expected)?!!!
I realize that’s all easier said than done, but what (or who) does it hurt to assume the best in this situation?
Now that my deep thoughts are out of the way, let’s get to some of the traveling tips, tricks, and hacks that I’ve acquired over the years of having kids, being a guardian of kids, and a nanny of kids. I have traveled solo with as many as five kids under nine years old, flown with two toddlers on a plane, and driven as much as 13 hours in a day with little ones, along with many other adventures! Needless to say, I’ve had some experience, and truly want to help 🙂
And whether you’re traveling in a car, on a train, a boat, or a plane, these ideas will mostly span across the modes of transportation! My biggest advice is to stock up on NEW THINGS! I find that nothing piques (not peeks or peaks #spellingisfun) a kid’s interest more than something new. And that doesn’t have to mean brand new…it can mean “new-to-them,” so if budget is an issue, borrow/trade toys with friends! As long as YOUR kiddo hasn’t seen it before, they’ll be ecstatic! I like to raid the Dollar Tree and Target’s dollar spot before we head out somewhere, because for less than $10-$20, I can have all new stuff without hurting my wallet too much!
Here was my round up from Target’s dollar spot the other day…
Another one of my favorite ideas is using the baking sheet as a fun play “center” of sorts! It’s great on laps in the car, on the fold down trays on airplanes, really anywhere that you need to contain lots of fun stuff! I’m a fan of puzzles at any age, so this is a favorite way to use them! But what I REALLY love about baking sheets is that they’re magnetic. Obviously, you can have plenty of fun with letters and numbers…you can be as educational as you want, or let your kiddos simply do whatever keeps them busy 😉
Or you can use magnets to hold plain paper in place, and let their imaginations run wild! The lip of the baking sheet will help keep the pencils/crayons/markers from falling everywhere. The little magnets in the pic below are actually chip clips found in the kitchen department!
Books are also a favorite for my minis! I’ll usually get them the next book in whatever series they’re currently reading, but this stack is our go-to no matter how many times they’ve been read! I can’t recommend “fun fact” books enough…Guinness, Ripley’s, Brainquest, Weird but True, and the like! I’m also a fan of getting informational books/pamphlets/guides for wherever we are visiting so they can brush up on the area…I think it makes it more interesting while we’re there if they feel like they already know about it!
Don’t forget to go old school, especially if you’re trying to be as “tech-free” as possible! Get a Rubik’s cube and watch your teenager’s head explode 😉 Play cards! I found some throw back card games at Target, like Old Maid, Crazy 8s and Go Fish! This is also a great time to teach them how to play Solitaire…use the tray on the back of the airplane seat!
Of course you can always go the technology route! Have a portable DVD player and a stack of movies ready to go, and don’t forget the headphones for everyone! Make sure you have plenty of chargers for everyone’s phones/kindles/ipads, and I’m a huge fan of having a car charger with USB connectors and outlets for regular plugs (linked below)! I also would contemplate calling your phone company and asking how much more it is to upgrade to unlimited data right before your next trip. For us, it was $10 more a month, and we could roll it back down to the other plan as soon as we got home. PRAISE HANDS! For older kids, I’d surprise them with an itunes gift card to buy something they’ve been eyeing!
Also when it doubt, FEED THEM! If I’ve tried everything with kiddos, and they’re still antsy or just not cooperating, it’s snack time. Have their favorites, but I go with the rule of something new here too! My kids typically remark about something they’d love to try every time we hit up the grocery and I say “not this time!” Guess what I’m gonna grab before the next trip? That exact snack. #momwin
As far as packing is concerned, this totally depends on the trip, ages, etc., but I can tell you that my smaller carry-on for flying has stayed pretty much the same! Snacks (as I’ve mentioned), a complete clean change of clothes including shoes in a ziplog bag (in case of accident, puke, etc.), wipes, all of the stuff to entertain them, a small blanket/scarf/etc, and my ID/cell/ticket info.
If you’re flying, here are some of my random tips in no particular order:
1. Sit near the bathroom if you can for lots of potty breaks
2. Sugar free lollipops to suck on during take off and landing to help with the ears
3. No matter your group number, go on plane last…less time for them to sit
4. Bring empty lidded cups into the airport and fill once you get through security
5. Let them walk it out while waiting to board
6. Ask the flight attendant for a plastic cup to hold anything you don’t want to roll around on the tray (crayons, cars, etc.)
If you’re driving:
1. Strategic placement of kiddos (depending on how many you have)…have the best helper within arm’s reach
2. Place the arguers as far apart as possible
3. Have plastic bins full of the fun stuff on the floor board (it’ll help keep you organized)
4. Keep lots of plastic bags stored away…accidents, trash, dirty clothes, motion sickness
5. If your kiddos fall asleep, turn on the white noise machine (there’s also an app on your phone) and create the mood
6. Batteries in various sizes…you just never know when you’ll need them!
And since we’re talking about the car, I can’t recommend enough to have a vacuum for it! A messy car drives my Stud bonkers, and it’s worth it to keep his sanity to have this in the car always. I’m going to link our fave at the end, so make sure to check it out!
With Christmas right around the corner, I know many of you will be heading somewhere fabulous, and taking the kiddos along for the ride (or flight)! I hope that I’ve helped you in some way, whether with some fun, new ideas, or simply with a tip or trick! If you have any to add, feel free to leave a comment!
And my friend, Rachel, created the cutest journals that my kiddos can’t wait to fill up! They’re called Adventure Awaits journals, and each page has a spot for a picture, and then spots for the kiddos to say where they went, what the weather was like, their favorite part, etc.!
And although it says 50 states in 50 years, it’s open for any kind of place you end up visiting…state park, going out of the country, camping adventure, and more! Check out her website HERE!
And when it comes to packing, here are some amazing deals on luggage, from Amazon! And the packing cubes are TSA compliant as well, and make awesome gifts for everyone on your list!
If you’re on Pinterest, you could also pin this post, using this image below…
For some of the things I posted about, here are the amazon links:
If you’d like to watch me on Charlotte Today, here’s the clip: