8 Fun and Low-Stress Tips for Traveling with Children
I help busy parents, overwhelmed family reunion organizers, and groups of friends plan vacations filled with unforgettable memories. As a travel advisor who is always planning vacations for either clients or my own family, bonding experiences are something that I strive to create. I'm a Certified Family Travel Advisor and have dedicated my field of work to family travel. I've been in the travel industry for 4 years and have the joy of working with all types of families from those with infants to multigenerational.
While family travel is fun, empowering, educational, and one of the best bonding experiences that families can share it is often an area of stress for parents. Most parents experience some form of travel stress and find themselves in the unknown, Understandably, you can feel freaked out or may get overwhelmed before traveling. You don't know how your child will react to new travel experiences. You may have destination safety concerns or financial strain. Working with a travel advisor eases a lot of these factors such as the stress of planning vacations with children and it saves you a significant amount of time which is particularly valuable for families with children.
I'm here to help you and let you know you aren't alone. You have support. The benefits of traveling with young children go beyond creating lasting memories. Travel is a great way to help your child build confidence and it enhances your child's development. Here are 8 Fun and Low-Stress Tips for Traveling with Children that will help traveling go more smoothly for families!
1: UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING TAKES LONGER WITH CHILDREN
Allocating extra time can save you so much stress. Adopt this concept for every aspect of your trip. Make sure you're allocating plenty of time and taking things slow. Allow extra time to get through airport security and get to your gate. It's going to take longer than you expect to check in, get through security, buy last-minute snacks or drinks, and board the plane. Give your family extra flexibility to transport to theme parks and also in between attractions. It's good to plan extra time to get to dining reservations or experiences that require reservations. While planning itineraries for families, I build in flexibility and extra time to your itinerary for unexpected things that often come up with traveling with children.
2: PACK ESSENTIALS
Finding the balance between packing items needed with children and wanting to pack everything that your child uses at home is a balancing act. It might be tempting to pack everything your child uses at home but do yourself a favor and pack essentials. Navigating the airport with your children and a ton of luggage probably won't be the start of the vacation that you've been dreaming about. Plus, we don't want to forget that young children's items are typically bulky and by the end of the day, you'll probably be carrying at least one child.
Ditch as much carry-on luggage as possible. Checked luggage can make time in the airport easier, as well as getting on and off the plane with your family. Make a list of what's carry-on and what's checked while preparing for travel. There are items that you can add to your packing list that will enhance your travel experiences with young children. Here are items that I love:
Odor-controlled disposable diaper bags: These will help on the plane as well as using these in your hotel room.
Johnson & Johnson Tiny Traveler Baby Gift Set or Burt's Bees Getting Started Kit: I love good hotel toiletries but they aren't always right for infant or toddler skin. Everything in these kits are travel size and airport ready.
Packing Cubes: Stay organized and have separate compartments for clean and dirty clothes. Everything baby wears becomes wet and sticky. Packing cubes will prevent all of your other stuff in the suitcase from getting messed up.
A new toy for the airplane. Buy a toy to open on the airplane as this will probably keep their attention a little more than an older toy.
If you find that you forgot something, it's easy to find what you need at your destination or use my secret sanity saver and place an Amazon order to deliver to your resort.
3. DON'T TRY TO SQUEEZE IT ALL IN
Even though you may want to see and do everything, it might not be a good idea to try to squeeze everything into one day or even in one trip. I want you to get the most out of your trips and sometimes this means slowing down your pace. Taking things slow with young children especially can be more beneficial and enjoyable than trying to squeeze in everything and rushing. This can help reduce crankiness from parents and kiddos. Things can go bad fast when you and the kids are cranky. Nothing goes as planned or is fun when the kids are crying and parents are upset that they aren't getting as much out of their vacation as they thought. Instead of planning one Magic Kingdom day, think about two so that you can slow down and really be able to enjoy the magic with your kids. Destinations like the Walt Disney World Resort is a prime example of being able to enjoy the destination again and again. I take a way something new from my trips every time I visit which is often! There is so much to do, experience, and you can always re-visit your favorite attractions. I'll help you navigate getting the most out of your vacation and maximizing your travel experiences with your littles in mind.
4: PRE-SCHEDULE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Let your travel advisor take care of the details of your trip and arrange as much as possible for you. I design and develop travel experiences that make people's lives simple. I can arrange ground transportation, dining reservations, activities, celebration cake deliveries, and the list goes on! Beyond booking your accommodations, streamlining your plans are included with my service. This saves you so much time. I have clients that will send me dates to work my magic and that's it. I know their families, how they like to travel and they know that I have their best interests in mind. So sit back, play with the kids and let me make this easy for you!
5: EXPLAIN TO YOUR CHILD WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO
First-time travelers like to know ahead of time what's going to happen and what they can expect. Talking to your children about your plans and letting them know ahead of time what they may experience is beneficial. Sit down with your family and break out the maps that I send along with travel documents and discuss your travel plans. If your child has never flown before, explain how airports work, plant the idea that flying is fun, read books about airplanes. Transportation outside of your normal may be a little intimidating for them.
Here's what you can do to help explain and make it fun:
Talk to your kids about the different ways that you're going to transport including park buses
Go to the library and check out some books about airplanes and your destination
For preschooler and elementary age kiddos, practice how you should sit down and buckle up on a plane
Act out a plane cabin by lining up some dining room chairs
Let them help pack
Build security checkpoints and use a towel to practice putting items on the belt for xray screening
Understanding what's happening next can be calming and will help them feel comfortable with what's happening around them.
6: HAVE THE RIGHT SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS
Having the right sleeping arrangements and accommodations can make a huge difference for traveling families. For parents, having a separate sleeping area reduces sleep deprivation and can help you decompress more freely when the kids are sleep. A separate sleeping area can help reduce the risk of waking children up while your getting things ready for the next day or watching a bit of tv while you decompress before bed. There's an array of options to help with this! Suites are available at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. If a suite doesn't work within your budget, think about reserving 2 standard hotel rooms and I will request an adjoining room. For babies or toddlers, you can get a slumber privacy pod which is particularly helpful if the family is staying in one hotel room. This is essentially a breathable, blackout tent that's placed over top a crib or pack n play designed with safety in mind. The privacy pods are cozy and can help prevent little ones from feeling out of sorts in a new room. Many parents use a baby monitor in the pod to check on baby. Bring along the portable sound machine or download white noise app on your phone. The last thing you want to do is disrupt sleep and everyone wants to rest well!
7: EXPEDITE TSA SCREENING
If you're interested in a smoother screening process, think about applying for TSA PreCheck. Children 12 and under can join a parent/guardian with TSA PreCheck in the dedicated lanes and breeze on through!
8. DON'T PROCRASTINATE TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
We learn so much through travel. Traveling opens the door to many colors, faces, languages, sights, smells, and sounds. Your child might say their first word during a trip or discover that they love soaring into fun on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Traveling with your child helps ignite their imaginations and it encourages them to try new things. Both children and adults never stop learning or adventuring from travel even after returning home.
With a little help, your trip can be easier than you think with the family! Travel advisors provide expertise & support whether you are ready to travel now or in the future. You can lean on advisors, benefit from our partnerships, and plan vacations with a network of professionals looking out for you. I'm here to help your family whenever you decide you're ready!