1. Take it slow
I think the biggest thing that helps when traveling with kids honestly is just taking your time with things. It can feel very rushed as you’re going through security at the airport with a bunch of kids and their luggage in tow but just realize that you don’t have to hurry. No matter what the people behind you are doing or saying, just take your time.
We have TSA Precheck but outside of the country it’s null and void. I find it helpful to have all of our clear toiletry bags pulled out and in hand while we’re in line as well as any larger electronics. I also start undoing my shoelaces so it’s easier to take them off.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, from the time you leave the house until you’re at your gate waiting to board. Nothing is worse than trying to rush with kids in tow.
The Army has ingrained backwards planning in me. If our flight is at 7am and I know we want to be there two hours in advance, I calculate how long it will take to get everyone up and out the house, get to the airport, park, get on the shuttle to the terminal, make it through security, make it to the gate, stop and get snacks/coffee. That gives me a wake up time and be out of the house no later than time. It also alleviates feeling rushed or running late which personally gives me anxiety so I try to avoid it.
2. Don’t overpack
Your kid does not need all of the comforts of home with them on their trip. Aside from things that are medically necessary, pack as little as you need. Plus you’ll have way more room for souvenirs. We try to travel with only carry-ons to avoid checking bags and waiting at the bag terminal. What helps is bringing outfits that are interchangeable. I promise your kids (and you for that matter) don’t need two outfits for each day. If you bring a pair of jeans or shorts, pack a few different tops that can be mixed and matched. If your kid is in diapers, consider buying them at your destination to save space as well as anything else that’s bulky.
3. Involve your kids in the planning
Even if you’re surprising your kids, as soon as they’re in on where they’re going, let them know what the travel will entail so they’re prepared. When we went to Ocho Rios, I briefed everyone the travel plan. Jeremiah is my twin when it comes to planning so he was the most aware but everyone had the gist. Even Noah, whose 3, knew that we would have to drive, take a shuttle, then a plane and finally another shuttle before we got to the hotel. Reminders along the way helped as we checked off each leg of the journey.
Oh some bonus tips, when traveling with kids, make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand at all times. Fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, pretzels, granola bars…we kept these on hand for the flights and for downtime* at the hotel. Oh, pack some for yourself too!
*We always include downtime on our trips. At Disney it meant going back to the hotel mid-day when the sun was at its highest and spending time by the pool, in Jamaica we headed back to the resort before our dinner reservations to cool down as well. Even if you’re not dealing with heat, if you have a jam packed itinerary without some down time the kids will likely start to revolt. Planned activities are great but leave room for some wander time.
What’s your best tip for traveling with kids?
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Thanks for sharing Yami. Glad you all made it back safe and sound.