Traveling at any age can present challenges, but traveling with kids can be extra difficult. Bedtimes are altered, familiar foods are scarce and new time zones change up your day entirely. However, traveling does present wonderful educational experiences for young ones. Therefore, if you do plan on traveling with kids, it is important to make sure they feel positive about being on the road. Be sensitive to your child’s needs and try to incorporate elements from home that make him or her feel secure and happy. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure your little one feels the comforts of home while on the road.
Bring a familiar toy from home
Every child has a toy or stuffed animal that they love to hold. Our toddler used to love Elmo, so we found her a small size Elmo stuffy and he started to join us on all of our travels. She loved being able to snuggle with Elmo on the plane, in the car and at the hotel. It was a great way to give her someone to take care of and share with during her trips.
Take one friend from home; when you limit the number of toy friends you take with you, it opens the possibility to bring a new one home with you from your adventure.
From the time our daughter was born we would play for her the same music in her room as she fell asleep every night. This became an excellent tool for helping her to feel settled in as she fell asleep in a new environment.
Children thrive on consistency, and music is a wonderful way for them to continue their bedtime routine no matter where they go. In addition to being helpful at bedtime, music is also very calming on a plane, train or in a car. Sometimes when you are on the road, calm and focus is hard for children to achieve, so music is an excellent tool.
It is a wonderful thing to bring one or two of your child’s favorite books on a trip. While we were traveling one time with our toddler, we had left her copy of “Goodnight Moon” in the hotel room so I began to recite the parts I remembered and she was so happy. Books bring a lot of comfort to children and are wonderful for distracting them during moments where you might be waiting for a plane, at a restaurant or in the car.
Board books are great for infants, as tearing paper can sometimes be seen as a fun activity for little ones. Bringing along a favorite book is great for story time before bed or just in moments where something more familiar is needed. Think about reciting the story to your child if you remember parts of it. Many companies make smaller versions of popular children’s books, and you can also find inexpensive books at many larger stores in compact lightweight versions, which is helpful for travel. In addition there are many classic books that have been made into apps with follow along reading styles which is also a nice compact way to take your favorites along.
When taking your child into a new environment, it is always essential to consider their comfort, which is everything from clothes, to pillows, to medicine.
If staying at a hotel, consider taking your own travel crib or a favorite blanket from home to make bed time even more familiar. Consider bringing items such as a favorite cup and most frequently used fork (for toddlers) as sometimes introducing new items can present challenges. Always consider the climate of the place you are traveling and pack accordingly—appropriate clothes and shoes are a must. If it is a rainy or cold season always have rain gear and layered clothing packed to make sure your child is comfortable and ready to enjoy their surroundings.
Never leave home without a first aid kit, especially during international travel. It is essential to have a thermometer, petroleum jelly, alcohol swabs, pain reliever and oral electrolyte powder. During travel children can get sick, and it is important to be prepared. Especially if traveling overseas, sometimes you cannot get certain basic infant pain relievers or children’s allergy medicine at the pharmacy without a prescription—so it is important to take age appropriate items with you in case of sickness.
Those are just a few ways you can help your child feel more at home while traveling. Taking your children on a family vacation is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give them. They will absorb more than you realize from the experience and they will remember great moments you share together. Being well prepared for the journey and making sure your children are comfortable provides a good foundation for a positive travel experience and many wonderful family trips in the future.
Rania Kfuri is a seasoned traveler and so are her little ones! Their family travel experiences led Rania to found @FreeLikeBirdie, a company that offers travel systems to help families with young ones pack and travel easier. Visit them at http://freelikebirdie.com/