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Maybe you’re in the season of spring break and summer is also already on the horizon. What that means is that we are heading into the peak season of increased travel. Now that the kids are going to be out of school, many families are definitely planning where they want to take their family for a “long, well-needed no pun intended, I definitely can relate” vacation. Therefore, I decided to write a blog about traveling with kids and how to ensure that you get the best experience from this venture.
We have taken many trips as a family ever since these kids were born. We have traveled both within the United States (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, and others) and also internationally (France, Jamaica, and London) with them from a young age.
This is therefore a lot of information about what I have experienced while traveling with children.
Are you planning on traveling with kids soon? What are your concerns? Let me know. Please feel free to share your own experiences or ask your questions or concerns below. I will be happy to help you!
“Planning travel with younger kids requires more strategic planning especially while also traveling with kids at a younger age.”
Before your Trip
Research the country or state that you are traveling to for restrictions or Necessary Precautions
Make sure to research every destination that you are planning on traveling to especially if you choose to fly to your location of choice.
We had plans once to travel to a Caribbean destination for my sister’s wedding that had an outbreak of dengue fever transmitted by mosquitoes. I was also pregnant at the time and had my one-year-old infant son. I had to take some serious precautions by bringing more protective clothing and insect repellant sprays to ensure safety and protection.
Therefore, plan accordingly with the country or state’s rules and laws both locally and internationally. Also If you do plan to travel via air, make sure to check the restrictions based on the time frame that you have to travel.
Research whether or not places or attractions that you wish to visit are open
Another thing that we weren’t aware of was whether or not the places or attractions that we wanted to visit would be open. In Florida, most museums and theme parks are always open for visitors. That may not be the case in other states or even countries.
We remembered a time when we traveled to DC to visit the museums there and they were actually closed, so that was a bummer for us, as it was one of the attractions we wanted to see. However, the monuments and other outdoor attractions were open, so we still got to do some tours, which was super fun.
Therefore check before making arrangements whether or not the place or activities that you would like to visit is actually open as a result of health restrictions or even maintenance schedules.
When planning to travel, make sure to know what car seats are required for your child prior to traveling and also be aware of the location you’re traveling to and what’s needed especially with international travel.
For younger kids, you may have to bring a full infant car seat, while for the school-age kids, you may just need booster seats.
The booster seat that I like to travel with because of how easy and lightweight it is to carry around is the Evenflo Go Time LX Booster.
It offers two modes of use, easily transitioning from high back to no back booster for kids at least 4 years of age, weighing 40 to 120 lb.
Keep the back on based on the child’s age, and weight or detach the back and carry just the boosters seats with you for traveling both locally and internationally. This also cuts back on having to pay expensive car rental companies to rent car seats or having to purchase them at your destination.
Remember that it’s FREE with most major airlines to check on a car seat for kids. This can be done at the ticket counter prior to the flight or at the flight counter prior to boarding.
I do recommend, if checking car seats at the ticket counter to place them in car seat bags to protect them from dirt, especially with younger kids.
Opt-in for car rental if you have the option to instead of relying on public transportation, especially with young children.
Car rental in my opinion is just a safer alternative for travel, especially when trying to get from one location to the next.
I would suggest limiting as much public transportation as possible, especially with younger kids unless going to cities where this option may not be possible, for example, London or Paris. Those cities required us to actually use public transportation to get around more because of limited car rental capabilities.
On some of our trips, we may decide to stay locally with family or friends on our chosen destinations.
If you do decide to reserve hotel accommodations during your trip, I recommend researching ahead of time what are restrictions at the hotels for smaller guests, and if you’re able to get any accommodations for kids as needed. For example, a pack-and-play for younger kids to sleep in can be handy.
Also, check what amenities are open for guests as well. Most restaurants and public areas such as the swimming pool or gym may not be open to smaller kids. That can surely limit the hotel getaway experience you may have been looking forward to.
Pack enough sanitizing products
Pack enough sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizers for everyone. I like to have the small portable clip-on hand sanitizers available for when there is not enough access to public sanitizers at your location or destination.
It’s good to have as much as you may need for your trip to avoid having to purchase anything because of a possible shortage in supply that can happen during the busy tourist season.
pack enough entertainment for kids
Because we want to restrict our kids from running around too much for safety reasons and touching everything around them, we have to find more engaging activities for them to do in one spot.
That will mean having more activities that will keep them in the same area for a longer period of time, especially during the flight, when it is a bit more restricted with movement. That may include, electronic devices, coloring books, small handheld games or toys, etc.
I like to bring for my kids, one screen item such as an iPad or preloaded tablet with activities I borrow from the library and also an activity workbook, a small toy like a teddy bear, a Lego box I purchased at the dollar store to carry a few lego toys with them, along with snacks as needed.
Pack your own blankets and supplies
Before Covid-19, blankets, and supplies were readily available, especially on international flights. Now, this may not be the case anymore. Many airlines are offering limited services aboard their flights and as a result, you may have to bring whatever you need onboard.
I, therefore, recommended packing an extra small blanket for travel and your own supplies (e.g. earphones, toiletries, etc.), especially for the younger kids.
For more information on what to pack for your kids and for a FREE packing checklist download, visit my blog post on:
During your trip
Arrive earlier than normal
If you are like me, sometimes as a mom we may get the timing wrong and get to the airport just in the nick of time before a flight. Trying to pack, get ready and run to the airport with two active boys, who want to go potty right after driving off is the norm for getting to the airport just before the gate closes.
This time, however, make every effort to get there on time just to be able to relax and breathe right before take-off. The processing timeline for flights at the airport may be longer as a result of social distancing, taking precautions, etc. To avoid any unnecessary hassle, I would advise all moms to get to the airport a lot sooner, especially with the little ones.
It is way much better to wait at the airport with an hour to go than to find yourself running through airport security with strict social distancing protocols in place. There is no jumping over anyone to catch a flight anymore.
This will probably be even worse as we get closer to the summer months with more crowds. So plan accordingly.
Check for restrooms access everywhere you go
I don’t know if this is my mommy instinct that kicks in, but everywhere I go, I check my location for the nearest restroom and the ease of access as soon as I arrive.
Now it is twice amplified during this time as it provides easier access to frequent hand washing. It also allows the younger kids to have much more time to go potty so that it reduces the stress of always having to go on a treasure hunt for a bathroom nearby.
Make use of sanitizers available at any destination
My hubby is not a fan of hand sanitizers everywhere especially if they are not the best-smelling ones, but personally, I am happy they are now available in most places. I would have wished they were there before Covid-19 for all the kiddie mishaps that we oh so dread whenever we take them out.
This however makes it so much easier to get a quick sanitizing of the hands, especially if you are not near to a bathroom. You know and I know that kids just touch everything and anything they can get their little hands on.
It also allows you to save some of the ones you brought along so that they will last longer on your trip anyway.
Bring your own snacks and water
I don’t like traveling with any liquids for my kids, especially if we are short on time to catch a flight. You are allowed to bring liquids for younger children but be reminded that it has to get checked thoroughly and will therefore take up much more time getting through the security checkpoint.
We also usually just get snacks wherever we travel to just for its convenience and to reduce our travel load and pounds (I refuse to pay for overweight baggage). However, pack enough snacks and water (kid’s water bottles are allowed) for the kids to avoid having to purchase too many things in different areas, especially when you visit certain cities like New York and Washington DC.
Pack as many snacks or food as you may need for your flying time (snacks at the airport and on the plane are costly). When you get to your destination, visit a local supermarket or gas station grocery store and get the snacks that you may need.
Medical Supplies may not be allowed on flights
We realized during international travels that kids’ liquid medications such as cough and cold medications or Tylenol, may not be allowed on your flight. We have had ours taken away by TSA on one of our international travels to London. They required it to have a prescription label in order to be carried on board or to purchase it at the airport or on arrival at our destination.
Therefore check for these requirements at all major airports especially internationally to help with these delays.
May have limited restaurant availability and seating or long wait times
Depending on your location of choice for travel, expect that there may or may not be restaurants fully available to accommodate children.
Some restaurants, only provide limited seating, therefore expect major wait times and also longer service times especially when traveling internationally. That is definitely a hassle, especially with younger children who may need to eat more frequently. My suggestion is to have more than enough snacks at hand available when this happens.
When visiting the major cities that have more popular restaurants, I would suggest finding more restaurants outside of the city that may not have a longer wait time based on the capacity for seating guests.
That was the case for New York City. We were excited to visit one of our favorite New York City restaurants at the time but the lines and wait times were pretty long, especially having the kids with us. We opted instead to visit the same restaurant in another part of town in the not-so-busy area which had less of a wait time and also long lines. The food arrived at our tables quicker than we expected and we were oh-so happy.
After your trip
As soon as you get home, just throw everything into the laundry and wash it right away or just store them in your laundry room until you have the time to wash them.
The key is to not mix the clothes that you have traveled with along with your regular clothes by repacking them. Just wash everything and repack them later.
Schedule a post-trip time off
Schedule the time off for no travel after your trip for a day or more preferably, just to get your children settled back in and also use it as a time for them to rest, and recuperate from any jet lag.
It can also give you some time to check for any temperature changes, sniffles, or stomach issues, that kids may experience. You don’t want to just go back into your normal routine right away.
Also, make sure to get some post-vacation rest for yourself as well, and check out my blog post on A Mom In Need Of a Time-Out.
Limit Visits from family and friends
I know this is very difficult to do at times, but it is necessary to just take a momentary break from everyone, especially after traveling for just a while.
It is a precautionary measure that should be done to ensure everyone’s safety and that includes your loved ones as well.
If you are planning an upcoming trip or family vacation, I do hope that this blog post will be helpful for you. I really want you to be aware of everything that I can help you with based on my own experiences to ensure a smoother transition during travel with younger kids.
For more related traveling content visit my blog post on:
Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.
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