Best Ways to travel with Kids
Flying to Vietnam with Zara at the Age of 1
Holidays always increase our family travel whether by planes, trains or automobiles. It also means an increase in stress and fatigue. Since we don’t have any family living locally in the bay area, we tend to travel more to get to our loved ones. Since our kids were little they have had to fly and drive a lot- we’ve learned some hard-won tips on how to best travel with kids. Hard won means we have made lots of mistakes and come up with a best practice system that seems to run smoothly and most importantly enjoyably for everyone. Here is our What to pack, what to do and what to avoid list to help you skirt some of our mistakes.
Snacks – I cannot highlight this tip enough; it is by far the most important of any I will share with you because a hungry kid is a grump and tends to lead to being more fussy and whiny. Always bring more snacks than you think, Always! Even if you think there is food that can be bought at the airport or on the train or we can stop at a drive-through- you can never foresee all the things that can happen like a delayed flight so no time to get food, too much traffic so drive-thru food is crowded. Younger children also have a threshold and once you cross that in the hunger department you have a hard time getting back to your cheerful kid, tolerance for waiting goes up with age.
Change of clothes for kids – This is essential-make sure you have it in your carry on or somewhere accessible. Just because your kid is potty trained doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen, they can get spilled on or worst of all vomit. Make sure you bring a complete outfit change including underwear.
Change of clothes For you – While your kids gets sick or have an accident, you are usually holding them which means you now are covered in vomit or other things. Parents rarely think to pack for themselves especially moms. I recommend at least an extra shirt as this is the most common area to get dirty.
Toys –Bring toys that are a favorite already or a version of a favorite that hasn’t been seen before, like a new small package of lego’s. I also recommend doing coloring, find it/search books and other things that are quiet and compact. When traveling with a stuffed animal they used to sleep with, pack in the carry on bag to avoid contamination.
Water bottles that don’t leak – Whether in the car or plane, a bottle that can be dropped and doesn’t leak is important because you can count on dropping it. Also remember if at altitude when the top is unscrewed- release the pressure before opening their straw top up as it will spray water on everyone.
Bring small blanket or large scarf – Kids will almost always get cold in the car or plane and this can be a way to keep them comfortable without having to pack too much. Also is helpful when doing any late travel as they can sleep with it. Companies make plane blankets which are great for any kind of travel as they are small and compact. Cold kids whine!
Travel earlier in day is better than later – Start preparing your kids to travel as soon as you can, it will help them get used to the process and make future travel more fun for the whole family. As with most things we have to learn everything and that includes travel.
Choose to travel in the morning versus night time – We have found that traveling with our kids even if we wake them at 4am is better than trying to land at 10pm, they just cope better and we all have more fun. I pre-dress them in their travel clothes the night before so I just get them up and put them in the car.
Always pack a swim suit – You never know when there is a hot tub or pool at a place or at a family members house and kids love to swim no matter the time of year and will be so sad if they can’t.
Avoid bedtime travel – Kids don’t do as well traveling really late at night unless you are doing a red eye or driving at night so they sleep. The worst time is landing around 9:30-10pm, they are just tired enough to not sleep but will be really cranky and this will increase the chance of crying which is worse if you are on a plane or other public transportation. In your own car, it can be handled differently and then only you suffer.
Avoid Squeeze packets and windy roads – If you are feeding your kids, make sure you are on a flat road or they have some time to digest the food before jumping into the car and heading out. Squeeze packets in the car on a windy road will especially make a child sick if the child is overly hungry and scarfs it down.
Don’t forget allergy medicine and tissues – You never know when you will come across a new childhood allergy and if you are in transit that can mean a sudden runny nose, itchy eyes and young children can’t blow well and tend to just vomit instead.
Don’t forget Band-Aids – Children are naturally curious and will need to explore the world, this leads to all kinds of bumps and scrapes whether at a rest stop or in an airport. Kids feel like Band-Aids comfort them and help - even when they don’t which can soothe a child and make a bad situation better.
Don’t forget to bring water on a plane or in the car – This means that after you have cleared security either buy water or fill your empty bottle. Being dehydrated can lead to motion sickness, fatigue and headaches.
Don’t forget to go potty – Before you leave somewhere do not accept the answer “I don’t have to go”, this has ended so badly so many times for us. Instead I say, “Please go check with your bladder to see if it can empty anymore”. They may only have a few drops or actually have to go, either way you are more likely to make it farther into your trip. If in a car with younger children taking a portable potty is recommended.
These are some of my best tips I have learned while traveling with my kids. I will remind you that during COVID travel you must take your precautions and not change your behavior too drastically when you arrive at a new place. We live very similarly on vacation as well as at home. Have fun traveling.
Allegra in Vietnam clearing customs at 1.5 years old.