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7 Tips for Traveling with Kids

traveling with kids

Summer break will be here before you know it. While the idea of traveling with children might be overwhelming, there are countless benefits that far outweigh the stress. Traveling from an early age has been shown to enhance their developmental milestones, teach children to be more flexible, and expose them to history, different cultures and new languages. Not to mention, parents and kids alike can benefit from spending quality time together.

Whether you’re planning a road trip to visit family or flying to a more exotic locale, the best thing that you do is prepare ahead of time. Here are 7 tips for traveling with kids to make your trip as stress-free and enjoyable as possible:

1. Brush Up on Airport Do’s and Don’ts

Airlines recommend arriving 90 minutes to two hours before your scheduled departure time to allow time to park, check in and go through security. If you’re traveling during a holiday or with young children, you may need even more time.

With regards to security, the Transportation Security Administration has developed modified screening procedures for children who appear to be 12 years old and younger. Kids don’t need to remove their shoes or light jackets and children should never be separated from their parents at security. For more information about these procedures, as well as information about traveling with formula, breastmilk and juice, the TSA has a section of their website devoted to information related to traveling with children.

2. Timing is Everything

The biggest challenge when traveling with kids isn’t necessarily the logistics of it, but rather minimizing disruptions to their routines.

To keep them on their normal routine as much as possible, try driving during times your children typically sleep.

While the idea of a 7 a.m. flight might sound appealing so that you have plenty of time to enjoy your destination when you arrive, rousing your kids early enough to get dressed and to the airport in time likely isn’t worth it. Neither is landing at 11 p.m. when they’re bound to have built up energy waiting to be burned.

Other ways to minimize disruptions include bringing comforts from home. If they’re used to sleeping with a sound machine at home, packing it can help them get a good night’s sleep despite being out of their normal environment whether it’s at a hotel or someone else’s house. This could also mean bringing their pillow, blanket or favorite toy.

3. Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you’re flying to your destination, we suggest downloading the app for your airline. This will allow you to easily check-in for your flight and it will notify you of any changes including delays or gate changes.

If you’re driving, use the GasBuddy app to earch for gas prices. They are updated in real-time by state, city and zip code. And while your car may already have GPS built-in, we like the Waze app–a community-based GPS navigation app with driving directions, live traffic reports and alerts about car accidents, road conditions and more.

Other favorites include:

  • Playground Buddy: Search from a worldwide database of more than 200,000 playgrounds to find one closest to your destination or for a road trip pit stop.
  • Yelp: A great way to find family-friendly restaurants, search and browse reviews for restaurants and businesses near you.

Lastly, even if your airline offers inflight wifi it typically does not support streaming services. If you want to guarantee your kid can watch his/her favorite movie or cartoon to help pass the time, download it directly to your device before you go. If you subscribe to Netflix, you can down select TV shows and movies to watch offline later.

4. Bring Plenty of Snacks

Snacks are half the fun of traveling, especially for road trips. But, be careful not to overdo it on the sugar or you’ll likely regret it later

We suggest an assortment of healthier options like trail mix, chopped vegetables, fresh or dried fruit, pretzels, or granola, along with 1 or 2 of your kid’s favorite treat that they don’t often get to eat like candy or chips.

We love this idea of using a small tackle box to pack small portions of different snacks. Each kid gets their own snack box and you don’t have to feel like a human vending machine constantly being asked for more.

Image source: Kristi Dominguez

5. Beat Boredom

To beat boredom and help pass the time, plan some games or activities that will help preoccupy them. Great games for road trips include I Spy, Road Trip Bingo, or the License Plate game. On a plane, games like Tic Tac Toe, Hangman and Connect the Dots are easy to play on the seatback tray with a pen and small notebook. Activity books with mazes, word search and crossword puzzles are great for any mode of travel.

Use Ziploc bags or a small backpack they can wear to pack with coloring books, stickers or other activities they can do relatively independently. Pinterest is a great resource for “busy bag” ideas. If you’re flying, opt for the triangle shaped crayons that won’t constantly roll off the tray. You can thank us later.

6. Give Them a Camera of Their Own

Who wouldn’t love to see the world through the lens of their little ones? This can be as simple as giving them a disposable camera for each day of the trip or you can purchase a kid-friendly digital camera like this one from VTech.

Not only will this keep them busy, but it’s a great opportunity to gain insight on what they find interesting and create amazing memories you can print and add to a photo album later.

7. Check with Your Pediatrician

If your child is currently taking prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last throughout your trip or talk with your child’s pediatrician about refills before you go. If needed, they can also provide documentation that you may need for traveling with certain medications and advice proper storage while you’re away from home.

If you are traveling internationally, you should also consult a pediatrician regarding immunizations as additional vaccinations beyond the recommended schedule in the United States may be advised. In some cases, your doctor may advise receiving a vaccination earlier than the recommended schedule.

Your pediatrician can also print a copy of your child’s medical records for you take with you in the event you need to seek treatment at your destination. This can be especially important if your child has a chronic illness or condition.

Remember, Kernodle Pediatrics provides 24-hour coverage with an on-call physician should you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health during your trip. Call (336) 538-2416 (Elon) or (919) 563-2500 (Mebane).

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