When my son was a baby I wrote an article about traveling to Israel with him. I wrote that “I prepared for the trip like a general preparing for an invasion.” I took tons of disposable diapers as they weren’t so available in Israel at the time, cans of formula, and an assortment of other items. Well, disposable diapers are available all over the world now so that wouldn’t be a problem, but if you are traveling with kids, be they babies or teens, be prepared! Here are some tips you might find useful.
1. Traveling By Car
Traveling by car is the easiest way to take along everything you can think of to make the trip more palatable to your offspring and easier for you and all the adults. For babies, obviously bring enough formula, juices, and diapers, as well as toys to keep them amused, if they are beyond the stage where their hands and feet are enough to keep them occupied. Take changes of clothes for wetting or other such accidents, and a small pillow and blankets.
Toddlers and kids from three to six present the impatience problem. “When are we going to get there?” is often a refrain before you’re even out of the driveway. First of all, get the little ones psyched up and excited about whereever you are going and never mention that any trip will be longer than “soon.” Have any child that’s able to walk pack his or her own backpack. In fact, this is a great time to get a child a new backpack or little suitcase just for trips. Have the child put in all of his or her favorite toys, coloring books, books, paper, crayons, and a pencil or pen. Paper and crayons are essential. They can keep kids busy for hours. Favorite blankets — but small ones just for trips — and tiny pillows are also essential so if they fall asleep they’ll be comfortable.
For all trips an emergency medical stash is important. Buy a plastic lunch box and have it contain children’s aspirin, Tylenol, children’s cough medicine, cute bandages, neosporin, and a digital thermometer. Also carry extra prescriptions if your children are on any medications. I once stayed at a very posh Beverly Hills hotel which didn’t even have a thermometer — the hotel’s limousine had to take me to Walgreens just to purchase one.
2. Keeping Them Amused On A Car Trip
For most kids, up to a certain age, counting cars of different colors and the number of trucks, signs, shopping centers, and things that are similar is great for passing the time. Here is where the pen and paper come in handy. If they are old enough, they can also write down each time they see something they are counting. Even a four or five year old can make marks for each time a car, truck or other counted item appears. Watching for speed-limit signs is also a great way to learn numbers. Buy inexpensive binoculars for kids to watch life along the road and through cities as well. If two children are a bit older, then card games and even pocket chess are stable enough to play. Older kids can read the books they brought and even younger non-readers will love looking at pictures. Ask kids to draw what they see on the road as well.
For teens, they’ll keep themselves busy texting (or complaining). If it’s a trip between sessions in school, you might suggest that older children bring special assignments to get ahead in class.
Bring a road map to have older kids follow where they are. They can mark up the map as they pass a place listed on it.
3. Snacks On The Trip?
Have kids pack snacks the night before. Try to steer them to healthy snacks like baby carrots, celery sticks, and fruit. For little kids, always cut up fruit, like apples, as they will most likely not finish them. If they want something chewy, then try to get something as healthy as possible. Little bottles of water and healthy juices are great. Carry along some powdered milk so that you can replenish the supply with bottled water if you aren’t able to get more milk along the way. Yogurts travel very well and up to 24 hours without refrigeration. Carry along a manual can opener and some cans of tuna or salmon. Healthy crackers (check for no hydrogenated oil etc.) are always good. Carry plastic cutlery — it’s easy to use and throw away when done. Don’t forget to give kids plastic bags for garbage and carry a big one to toss everything afterwards.
4. Plane Travel Tips?
Special backpacks and suitcases are also important here, filled with the same kinds of toys, crayons, books, and paper and pencils that you take for automobile travel. Here, because of the TSA, what you take in your medicine kit may be limited. You can still take a thermometer, but any liquid medications have to be three ounces or under. You can take fruit, snack bars, tuna and maybe salmon pouches, but you won’t be able to take bottled water, yogurts, or juices. These you’ll have to purchase once you’re through the TSA checkpoint. You can carry powdered milk and snacks like bars and crackers.
Books, card games, crayons, and paper are still handy here to keep kids busy. A small blanket and small pillow are also great if there’s room for them. If it’s your children’s first airplane trip and experience with TSA, it would be a good idea to talk to them about both experiences so that they won’t be apprehensive about either.
5. Cruise Tips?
Even here it’s a good idea to bring something to color with so that your child can keep busy at a table which may be peopled with strangers. Most cruise lines have children’s programs and an infirmary so a medical kit may not be necessary, though a thermometer might still be a good idea so that you can check if it’s even necessary to take the child to the ship’s infirmary. Even though food is provided, healthy snacks of fruit may be great to have
In all cases, when traveling with kids it is essential to keep them busy, busy, busy. Keeping them busy will make your travels, by whatever means, smooth and pleasant.