Traveling with children can be an exciting although stressful adventure, even as kids turn into tweens and become more independent. But there are simple and easy tips that can make the whole trip more enjoyable, especially if you turn the whole process into a teaching experience. I’m not suggesting you pull out a whiteboard and start making complex diagrams on what to do when flying or walking through an airport, but rather teaching basic traveling principles that will make your life easier. It will also help avoid the dreaded looks from fellow passengers that have a low tolerance for any children on their flights. Most importantly, I believe these traveling skills will be very useful for my kids once they are adults.
As you might know by now, my children have been traveling since they were babies. Really. They’ve had a valid passport since they were 2 months old. By now, they are total pros, and they are only 8 and 11 years old. So for me, traveling with children has stopped being so stressful because they are much more independent and can even pack their own carry-on.
Here are my top tips to simplify traveling with children once they are older:
Traveling as a family made easier 1 of 8
As kids grow older, traveling can get easier and less stressful. Here are my top 7 tips.
Comfort is key 2 of 8
Teach your kids to dress for success. Success meaning that they wear comfortable clothes that are also easy to remove when they need to go to the bathroom. They also need to dress in layers, since planes can be very cold. Pants with elastic waists are my favorite, as are zippered sweatshirts or hoodies.
Keep the germs away 3 of 8
To keep everybody healthy, teach your kids to wash their hands frequently. Even better, carry hand sanitizer with you at all times. Just make sure that it's small enough to fit in their bag or even in their pockets. Avoid those hand sanitizers that have chemicals such as triclosan; I prefer those that are alcohol-based.
Manners, please! 4 of 8
Teach your kids to be respectful of others. This means not kicking the seat in front of them, avoid making loud voices, not using the seat in front of them as leverage to get up and remembering good manners. It's common sense, really, but for some reason it is not common at all.
Keep your music to yourself 5 of 8
Have them pack their own headphones or earbuds, especially if they'll be playing video games or watching a movie.
Make them responsible for their things 6 of 8
Teach them to be prepared. This means carrying their own snacks, making their games and entertainments available to avoid being bored, and also just learning to adapt to any last-minute changes. Explain to kids before you travel that flights sometimes get delayed, gates may change, and that there are many things that can be very unpredictable when you travel.
Oh, the places you’ll go! 7 of 8
Talk to your child about the place that you'll be visiting before you leave home. This will make it even more interesting, especially if you're traveling overseas, to a different country, or to a place where languages and customs and culture are different.
Practice what you preach 8 of 8
Model your child's behavior. Try to keep your own stress under control to avoid passing on any anxiety you might have. Also be respectful of others, since kids will use your behavior as a guide on how to act.
Do you have any other tips? Please share!
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