Next month we’re taking a LONG flight with our soon to be-3-year-old & 5-year-old. Both my husband and I live across country from where we grew up so air travel with the kiddos has happened on many occasions. Its not the most fun experience in the world but we’ve certainly developed a few of our own tips and tricks for making the experience better.
This week we had a great discussion on my Facebook page about this very topic and several of you shared some awesome tips and rookie mistakes too. So I wanted to share.
1. Try NEW! For all of the tips below, Sarah suggested trying something new that your kids have never seen before. We all know how the newness of things can capture their attention. Try to take advantage of that truth and make your trip a bit easier on you.
2. Snacks: Bring lots of snacks but make sure they’re not just full of sugar! As Sharon mentioned: ”… keep the sugar low, hyper strapped in kids are no fun.” Crystal suggested bringing something the kids chew or suck “doesn’t have to be sugar” for the ear popping/air pressure.
Drinks can be more difficult because in many airports you can’t bring your own liquids, except breast milk or formula of course (and these need to be declared at security.) So if you plan to bring juice or water, Kat reminded us to get those at the airport. Great tip!
3. Technology: I don’t know about you, but my family is a tech-loving family. My kids love to play iPod, iPad and computer games, watch movies, etc. So I’ll be charging up and loading up the iPad (or iPod or other handheld game/movie device) with their favorites and a few new things too.
Headphones are a must, but there are a couple tips to keep in mind. Cassie suggested a headphone splitter “so two can watch together.” I LOVE this idea and its something I always wish we had and typically forget. Not going to forget it this time! Also for headphones, you might consider testing them out with your kids in advance. Crystal’s son “hated” the ear bud style, so consider over the ear or on the ear headphones for your little ones instead.
Bringing extra travel battery chargers are a smart move too.
Jenn said: “We went on a road-trip recently with my 9- and 12-year-olds. I developed a behavior reward system that seemed to work wonders. I took a circle of red, yellow and green paper for each kid, and put their initials on each one, and attached them to clothespins. If the kids were being good, I kept green pins on the visor. If they got out of hand yellow went up, and if they got worse red went up. They were rewarded with a ticket every half hour that green stayed up. The tickets were redeemable for snacks, games, movies, etc. It worked like a charm! Not only did the kids behave like angels for a 16-hour car-ride, but there were also no arguments over who got to do what when! If one of them bought a half hour on the tablet, the other didn’t whine because they knew they could buy a half hour after that, It was the best family road trip we’ve ever been on!”
Colleen, a missionary mom of 5 has a lot of travel experience. She suggested giving the kids a map of your destination and a highlighter to outline the rivers, roads, landmarks, etc. Another of her map ideas is to cut up a map of your destination and laminate the pieces to make a puzzle. She also suggested printing out images of places you’ll be visiting then photo shop tiny images of your family into them to make a personalized version of “Where’s Waldo?” Her last travel game idea is to make up questions like you are a reporter and interview the kids like they are celebrities or travel experts. Really clever ideas!
Cassie says: “organic lollipops and play dough are my backup when everything else fails to keep them quiet.”
Sarah recommends bringing a box of bandaids and she says “scarves are awesome-they don’t take up a lot of room-you can play peek-a-boo and other games.”
Kat says to bring “a metric ton” of ziplock bags, straws, paper towels and plastic forks.
9. Packing Tips: Colleen has done a lot of traveling with little ones (and now bigger ones). Her best tip is for packing. “Instead of packing bags with all of one person’s clothes, pack three days worth of clothes for everyone in each bag. Pack each person a back pack with their toiletries an daily essentials as well as extra socks, undies, and sweatshirt. Take one bag out at a time along the way and everyone brings their back pack rather than having to unload everything at every stop. Mark the used bags with colored duct tape. Then if you get an opportunity to do laundry, you know exactly which bags to grab.” She also recommends momsminivan.com for great travel tips.
So what do you think? Do you have other tips or rookie mistakes to add? We’d love to get your ideas!