Traveling alone is hard enough, but traveling with children is even harder.
No matter how much you prepare, you feel like you're forgetting something and you can never be prepared enough.
However, you planned a vacation and you should be able to enjoy it. So we've put together some tips and tricks for you to make it all go smoother, so you can have the family trip of your dreams.
Give Yourself Plenty Of Extra Time Before Heading Anywhere
Between dressing the kids, making sure everyone is fed, quenched, has gone to the bathroom, and didn't forget their teddybear on the bed, something's bound to go wrong and take a few more minutes than anticipated.
Rather than recreating a scene from Home Alone and having the whole family running from one end of the airport to the other, get there super early, and wait around if you have to.
Dress The Kids In Orange So You Can Spot Them
This is a color that will easily stand out in a crowd, and if you have a lot of kids or a big family, it will make it easier for all of you to find each other in case you get separated.
Just remember that you don't have to compromise on style to be able to pull off this color.
Get The Kids To Pack Their Own Carry-On Bag
This will save you a future meltdown. Have the kids pack all their essential and favorite toys and books. This will not only give them something to do during the long wait times of travel, but it will also give them a sense of independence in helping you prepare for your travels.
Travel Hands-Free By Opting For A Backpack
Let's face it: you're going to need your hands a lot. Between holding the little ones' hands, buying food, handing out passports, or pushing trolleys, you don't also want to have to worry about an extra bag handle.
Plus, a backpack will easily hold your essentials with compartments for your water bottle, wallet, etc.
Try To Make Travel Time Coincide With Bedtime Or Naptime
If you can manage to book your flights for nighttime, you'll probably save yourself the energy of having to keep the kids entertained, as they can just sleep peacefully the whole time and only be awake during the time required to get in and out of the airport.
Lollipops Can Help Relieve Ear Pressure
The pressure of the plane taking off and landing is not only painful for children, but for adults too. Giving them a lollipop will not only keep the kids happy, but sucking on it will also ease ear pressure. You can do the same for yourself by chewing gum.
Have All Your Entertainment Ready The Night Before
Kids get bored easily (you already know that), so make your life easier by packing a wide variety of entertainment options.
Make sure the iPads and electronic games are charged, but also bring a deck of cards, some crayons, a notebook, and miniature puzzles or board games so that you can partake in the entertainment together, both on the journey and during your stay.
Nobody's Happy When They're Hungry, So Stock Up On Snacks
If you think you have enough snacks, pack some more. Not only will the kids get hungry, but you will too. You can't guarantee you'll like airline food, and buying anything at the airport is guaranteed to be overpriced.
Just make sure they are packaged snacks that comply with international regulations.
Have A Plan If Anyone Gets Lost
Make sure you sit down with the kids and explain what to do if they get lost from you. Make them memorize your phone number if they are old enough, or write your information on a necklace they can wear, and instruct them to find a security guard and show it to them.
Get The Kids Excited Beforehand So They Don't Feel Uncomfortable
Airports can be overwhelming, and the sounds of a plane can be scary if the kids don't anticipate or understand what's happening.
Before traveling, get the kids excited by getting them to play with planes, by giving them the window seat so that they can look, and by talking in detail about all the fun and exciting things that await you on the other side.
Have Everyone Get A Say In Which Activities You Get To Do On Your Vacation
Naturally, the kids aren't going to enjoy every single part of the vacation. The key to get around it is by having everyone choose an activity they can't wait to do.
This will give them something to look forward to and teach them to be respectful when it's someone else's turn for the other activities.
For Long Drives, Include Ice Cream Stops
If you're driving, not flying, the trip can feel just as long and tiring. Ice cream stops will give the whole family something to look forward to, and you'll be able to stretch your legs and use them as bathroom breaks as well.
Consider Renting Equipment Like Baby Trolleys Instead Of Dragging Them Along
Even if you have your trolley designed perfectly for your needs and that of your child, it will be more trouble than it's worth having to drag it along, check it in, and find it. Plus, it might get damaged along the way.
Most airports, hotels, and attractions will have options for you instead.
Give The Older Kids Some Responsibility Of Their Own
If your kids are old enough, get them to help you out. Give them each a bag to look after and put the snacks in one bag and the water bottles in another, so when required the kid who has them can just pull them out for you and save you all some time. This will also make them feel important and excited to help.
Put A Sticker On The Front Of Each Passport To Distinguish Them
It doesn't help that passports all look the same when you're trying to check everyone in and get through all hundred steps of security. This is a quick little visual hack that will give you a few seconds of your life back when you're flustered and just trying to get it all done.
You Can Reserve Bassinets For Babies On Planes For Free
You can reserve a bassinet for your child on international flights by reserving it along with bulkhead seats ahead of time. This is a "first come, first served" service, so make sure you do it as soon as possible, even months in advance.
Make Sure You Alert The Airlines Of Food Allergies Or Restrictions Ahead Of Time
Airlines only pack as much food as they need per flight. This means that if you have any allergies, they might not be able to accommodate it on the spot.
Rather than going hungry, make sure you select the correct options before boarding.
Pack A Bag Of Surprises That You Can Pull Out From To Reward Good Behavior
Go to a dollar store and pick up some fun small toys and put them in surprise bag. Tell the kids that for every time they listen or do something good, you will pull the next surprise out of the bag.
This will keep the kids on their best behavior, and the novelty of the new toys will keep them occupied.
Consider Investing In Gel Stickers For Windows
A fun way to take away any fears during plane rides is to give the kids some removable gel stickers that they can glue to the windows to give it a sense of familiarity and excitement. This also works for car trips.
Ask About Family Lines To Cut On Standing Times
Many airports offer a family line that is usually a little bit shorter or quicker to get you in and out before the tantrums and the crying begin.
Educate yourself beforehand about which airports offer it so that you can navigate the trip easier and finally get to your destination and make memories with the family to last a lifetime.