How to Ensure Your Child Is in Good Spirits During Your Next Vacation
Traveling with small children can provide them with early exposure to new cultures, exotic locales, and sights and sounds that become some of their most cherished early memories. It can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges.
Children can be unpredictable and temperamental, but with a little proactive problem-solving and planning, you can help keep tantrums and tears at a minimum. Here are some tips and best practices to help make traveling with little ones more manageable and enjoyable for parents.
Plan Ahead and Be Thorough
Predicting what you need before you need it is one of the toughest tasks traveling parents must address. Be mindful of the following when packing, booking lodging, and selecting your vacation destination.
- Pack Smart: Create a packing checklist for your child, including essentials like diapers, wipes, spare clothes, snacks, and their favorite toys and comfort items. Don’t forget any necessary medications and earplugs for the plane to mitigate the pain of cabin pressure.
- Book Child-Friendly Accommodations: Choose family-friendly hotels or accommodations that offer amenities such as cribs, high-chairs, and childproofed rooms. ManyAustin hotels, for example, provide a family-friendly experience that is accommodating to all ages.
- Choose the Right Destination: Opt for destinations that are child-friendly and offer activities suitable for kids. Research family-friendly attractions and accommodations in advance. Also be sure to confirm if the location is stroller friendly.
Be Mindful of Travel Timing
Hopefully, your child is on some semblance of a regular schedule. Otherwise, you may be dealing with a fussy kid who’s out of sorts.
- Consider Nap Schedules: Try to schedule flights or long drives during your child’s nap times to maximize their comfort and minimize disruptions.
- Plan Layovers Wisely: If you have a layover, choose airports with family-friendly amenities like play areas, changing facilities, and kid-friendly eateries.
- Soundproof Headphones Are a Great Investment: Planes and airport terminals are loud and bustling. You can provide your child with peace and quiet with soundproof headphones.
Bring Entertainment Options
Children generally don’t do well with sitting still for hours on end, which means parents need to step it up in the entertainment department.
- Pack Activities: Keep your child engaged with coloring books, puzzles, electronic devices with headphones, or audiobooks. A season of Paw Patrol can be your saving grace during a long flight.
- Snacks: Bring a variety of healthy snacks your child enjoys to keep them content during travel. Avoid sugary treats that may inspire bursts of energy, followed by fatigue and fussiness.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
As a parent, part of the job is planning for worst-case scenarios and unexpected circumstances.
- First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit for minor accidents and illnesses. Include items like band-aids, pain relievers, and any specific medications your child may need.
- Extra Clothes: Be prepared for spills and accidents by packing extra clothes for your child and a change of clothes for yourself in your carry-on luggage for easy access.
- Cleaning and Sanitation: Despite your best efforts, kids know how to create a mess. Be sure to pack cleaning wipes, stain sticks, and a travel-sized all-purpose cleaner.
Nothing ruins a vacation like a bump on the head or a nasty stumble. If your junior traveler is accident prone, you may benefit from the following three safety tactics.
- Childproofing: Childproof your accommodations as much as possible, including covering electrical outlets, removing hazardous objects, padding tables with sharp corners, and using portable safety gates if needed.
- Safety Harness: In crowded or unfamiliar places, consider using a safety harness or child leash to prevent your child from wandering off.
- Tagging: Place an Apple Tag or similar tracking product in your child’s clothing. Should the worst happen and they are nowhere to be found, you can use your smartphone to locate them.
Be Patient and Flexible
Accept the fact that your trip will not go exactly as planned. Challenges will arise, and you’ll be much better off if you plan for them.
- Expect Delays: Understand that travel delays and disruptions can happen. Have a backup plan in case things don’t go as smoothly as you hope.
- Go with the Flow: Children will almost certainly become fussy or anxious during travel. Be patient, provide comfort, and adapt your plans as needed to accommodate their needs. Never lose your cool.
Enjoy the Journey
Try not to get too caught up in all the planning and problem-solving that you forget to enjoy the experience of traveling with your young one.
- Create Memories: Embrace the adventure and make the journey itself part of the fun. Take breaks to explore interesting stops along the way or enjoy scenic views.
- Stay Positive: Your child looks to you for cues on how to react. A positive attitude and a sense of adventure can make travel more enjoyable for everyone.