There are TONS of articles that give practical planning and traveling tips for traveling with kids. This post is about how to appreciate traveling with kids because the reality is that it’s hard. Traveling with kids takes guts, perseverance, and patience! It’s not bad, just different in certain seasons, and I’m going to encourage you that traveling with kids is AWESOME!
What You Need to Know
Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. In their early years, it just takes absolute grit to get thru. No amount of planning or objects are going to solve all the problems because you can’t control them, haha. Once it took a 3 hour trip, 6.5 hours >> yeah, I vowed never to leave the house again after that one. BUT, that just isn’t reality. Truth is, one of our greatest desires is to travel as much as we can to as many places as we can as a family. So that was a vow meant to broken. After that trip though I learned A LOT.
Patience is the only thing you need to pack in spades before you leave. Trips with small children are completely unpredictable. You can’t plan when there will be a poop explosion, a tantrum of epic proportion, or a fall that leaves you worried whether to go to the hospital or not. Small babes can’t communicate so their frustrations can get amplified when they are out of their normal. Therefore, don’t have great expectations.
I will leave a caveat here that traveling as the children grow I believe will get easier and easier logistically because they will be able to communicate effectively and understand consequences.
Trips with small kids takes a special kind of navigation
Know where you can go that isn’t going to leave you crazed and way over-stimulated when traveling with kids. This could include low key places that may leave you red-faced if your kids are the loud disruptions in a quite reserved space OR keep you frantic because your kids are trying to assimilate to loud rambunctious behavior with little intention on heading your parental warnings…..therefore, just go ahead and prepare mentally for a little chaos in those circumstances (or avoid them all together).
The biggest aggravations for me when I was a new parent was my lack of control over situations. I’m here to just warn you and implore you to recognize that small kids are LEARNING their boundaries, they don’t know them yet, so don’t expect them to act like they have some sense >> THEY DON’T!
As the parent that is with our kids more time wise, I’ve been able to master calm, cool, and collected in most scenarios >>> Adam on the other hand, not so much. He is getting better, but his “had it up to here” alarm sounds way before mine does :), so you need to also anticipate some miscommunication (a.k.a. tit for tat) with your significant other in handling those not so joyful moments. #truetalk
How To Plan
Consider the big parts of the trip you want to include for sure when traveling with kids:
- Specific Activity
Once you have your list of must-do’s, block out time. I’ve found that 1-2 “big things” are enough for one day. Things just take longer with little ones in tow (i.e. getting out/in the car, bathroom breaks, rest breaks, etc.), so if you want to include something on your trip, take the pressure off and just plan for 1-2 things a day.
This next tip will evolve with age, but little ones will do MUCH BETTER if you keep the typical things on the same schedule as normal. Eat times, nap times, down times, and bedtimes. TRUST ME! If you can keep their bodies on as typical a schedule as possible, they will be much more compliant.
TRAVEL HACK: If you are staying in a hotel room, try to get a room that has good extra space (i.e. living room, balcony, sitting area) so that the time after your littles go to bed can be enjoyable for you and your spouse. Adam and I will plan for what we’re going to do after the babies go down. Whether its having dinner delivered for us, buying dessert and a nice bottle of wine, watching a movie, or sitting by a fireplace, we make the most of our time together after they are asleep. If you can stick to their normal bedtimes, your days will be much smoother.
Take it Slow and Stay Present
When traveling with kids, make the time together fun, lighthearted, and stress free. There are going to be bumps along the way, but lowering your expectations to what your small kids can truly handle will help you feel low-key, instead of high-strung.
Trips are about doing something out of the normal, going with the flow, and enjoying experiences that are unique from the day-to-day.
Pack essentials, don’t over-pack. You can buy anything that you realize you desperately need, and nobody can wear that many clothes ;). Think about the toys at your house that aren’t played with because your kids would much rather follow you around and touch the things in the environment they are in. You don’t need that much, and snacks are a great distraction.
TAKE NOTE: If you’re driving, you’re going to have to stop >>> so just get over it ahead of time. It will take longer. If you’re flying, just do it, get thru it, and don’t overthink it. Kids cry and get aggravated > there’s much worse going on the world.
These are the days that stand out in your child’s mind as they grow and your own when you think about time with your little ones. The days you were super present, saw your babies learn something new for the first time, and were doing something fun as a family.
Take advantage of the time together, and learn to go with the flow if that’s not a natural trait (like me, haha).
Now, it’s time to hear all of your ideas and tips, share below in the comments! If you haven’t seen, checkout >> this post << all about making the most of summer!