Traveling with Kids: 7 Tips for Making it a Smooth Ride!

by Melanie Edwards on August 12, 2013 · 6 comments

in Parenting, Travel

Tips for Traveling with Kids

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Every time we pack for a trip with the kids – even a two-hour drive – I find myself packing items to keep them entertained in the car. I often joke with my mom that I don’t know how she ever traveled with my brothers and I before the age of iPads and in-car DVD players! The truth is that though we do take advantage of both when traveling with our kids, we do try to keep them entertained with a variety of other tactics – none of which included giving them medicine before a trip to relax them or make them sleepy. Give them medicine before a trip, you ask?

A recent survey found that 18% of moms surveyed confessed to giving their children medicine before a long trip due to fears of having an unruly child. I’m not here to judge anyone’s parenting choices, but will share that my husband and I have never done this ourselves. Additionally, here is what has to say about the practice:

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) options available to help make your child feel better when he or she is sick, but be careful to only use a medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms…Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.”

So what are some options to help you have a smooth trip with your children, keep them entertained and avoid misbehavior? Here are a few tips for traveling with kids to help you out!

7 Tips for Traveling with Kids

  1. Pack a backpack full of supplies they can use during the trip – anything from light snacks, coloring books, books, a notebook, etc. will work.
  2. Consider purchasing special items to be used only during the trip – a new stationary set, a new hand-held toy, a new stuffed animal – the idea is to have something new and special to help them stay engaged.
  3. If you can, book an early-morning or evening flight to increase the chances your child will sleep during the trip. Similarly, if traveling by car, leave early in the morning or during the night.
  4. For road trips, print out worksheets with fun road games or scavenger hunts. This could work for flights as well, with different activities.
  5. Create a playlist for each child on your phone, MP3 player, or tablet and let them listen to their favorite music wearing headphones.
  6. If breastfeeding, nurse during take-off and right before landing to help avoid earaches from the pressure.
  7. Talk, sing, and have fun! One of the best ways to keep kids engaged is to talk about the sights, sing songs, and ask them questions during the trip.

More Tips for Traveling with Kids from Other Moms

What is one of your favorite ways to keep your kids entertained during a trip?

Disclosure: As part of the CHPA educational foundation’s OTC Safety Ambassador program, I received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Photo: Cristeen Quezon/Flickr

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1 Jessica August 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I completely agree with everything. Especially buying thing for the trip alone. I have twin boys and they hate traveling so I try and include them in the planning and decision making, so they have something to look forward to. They also needed new luggage so I included them on that little adventure and went a head and got them personalized. They LOVED picking out colors and personalizing it. When we landed, I made looking for their bag on the carousel a game and after that trip they needed some waking up!

2 Melanie Edwards August 22, 2013 at 8:35 pm

So fun! I love the idea of letting them pick out their luggage and making a game of looking for their bags!

3 Real Family Trips - Family to Family Travel Tips May 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

@Jessica, We also try to involve the little ones in the travel planning. We find they end up more invested overall and are much more likely to enjoy themselves. Nice tip.

@Melanie, these are all some great tips. I was surprised to hear that the number of moms giving medication before a trip was so high (18%)! Great advice here, thanks for sharing. Bookmarking this site now. 🙂

4 Melanie Edwards May 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I too was surprised at that statistic! So glad you liked my tips!

5 Tiffany February 28, 2014 at 3:03 am

For kids that get car sick, we have learned to bring along a disposable, plastic, soda fountain cup with lid. (20-32 oz.)It is small enough for the child to hold, fits perfectly for their little face, then after getting sick, you can put the lid on it and throw it out at the next stop!

6 Melanie Edwards February 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

I would have never thought about that! Thanks for the tip!

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