Did that title get your attention? I hoped it would. I want you to know it can be done. We can travel with children and relax at the same time.
Most of the responsibility rests on us, I know. But hear me out. We have to make some EXPECTATION adjustments. All of these can be made WAY, WAY in advance. Planning takes on a whole new meaning when traveling with children. In fact, I would say it quadruples. But the payoffs are also quadruple!
Here’s my top 5 Expectation Adjustments for making travel easy:
Time either runs slower or faster than you anticipate when traveling. The plane ride you thought would be a quick, easy flight turns out to be, well — not. Plan for the worse case scenario. Sickness, boredom, spills, screaming baby (hello, earplugs! If the other people on the plane didn’t plan for this, it isn’t your fault. Any reasonable traveling adult knows that there might be a crying baby aboard. It would be like going to a rock concert and expecting a nap).
Having the same basic ground rules that you have at home helps. However, some kids don’t adjust well to new surroundings and act out accordingly. Ask yourself, “Is this deliberate? Or is this a by product of being somewhere different?” The three year old who decides to prostrate in the middle of the airport in protest could be both. Can you give them a time-out? Sure, if you want to be late for your flight. Desperate times call for desperate measures and that means that you scoop that wailing tot up and get moving. They’ll get the picture pretty quickly.
3. Activity Level:
A basic rule of thumb when traveling with children is that there is an inverse relationship between what the expected activity level is for the activity to what they actually display. Want them to sit still and watch a cultured live play? Expect ants in their pants. Want them to join in on the loud Conga line around a party? They will surely want to sit still and stare into space. Most of this has to do with their own method of adjusting the stimulation level around them to suit their needs at the time. This is when knowing your child’s personality and being flexible is KEY.
A good rule of thumb when packing for ANY trip is this: lay out everything you think you need and divide it at least by 2. Keeping track of too many things is the most likely activity to drive you crazy. If you are especially gifted in organization, assign a color to each kid — and to the parent. All of the purple stuff in my house is my husband’s; all of mine is red. So when you ask them, “Can you hand me Mommy’s ________ ? Even a two year old can quickly come to the rescue!
When packing for a trip with kids, it’s important to know that you cannot recreate home somewhere else. The key items of familiarity are important for making them feel secure (blankets, stuffed animals and such) but trying to bring every home convenience with you is exhausting. It’s a chance for them and you to try new things, new ideas, new ways of doing things. Parents discover quickly that they don’t need 6 pieces of baby equipment while traveling. Nor do you need the same types of entertainment. Kids are natural fun-finders. Let them discover on their own that it’s better to wash their hair outside with the pool shower and jammie up in the room.
Will traveling be easy with children? Honestly, not completely. But these are tips that have helped me over the years with my four that have helped ease the traveling experience into more fun and less stress.
What are your best tricks and tips for traveling with kids?
How have you adjusted your expectations when you are traveling with kids?