Chances are that the holiday season will bring some type of traveling for you and your children. It could be a two-hour ride to grandma's house, a plane ride with layovers and security checks in crowded airports, or multiple short stops at friends' homes. Regardless of your destination, traveling with children can be stressful! To help, we've assembled tips to make your journey just a little easier without breaking the bank!
Traveling with Babies
- If traveling by plane, remember to pack something for your baby to suck on during take-off and landing. The sucking motion will help his her ears. This might be a pacifier (even if he normally doesn't use one), or you can nurse your baby or give her a bottle.
- Expect delays whether traveling by car or plane, and be sure to pack extra finger foods and bottles. If you are formula feeding, pack more formula than you think you'll need (keep in mind that there are restrictions on how much liquid you can carry on your plane so you might want to bring dry formula you can mix up); this could save you a real nightmare if you have an extended flight schedule, run into serious car trouble, or are stuck in bad weather. Single serving cereal packets are great for pulling out of your bag, and some babies like to play with the unopened packets too.
- A bottle of water can be your best friend. Not only does it help with plane dehydration, but it's handy with spills. If your baby gets bored, you can drop shiny dimes into the bottle, tighten the lid and she'll entertain herself shaking the bottle and watching the coins inside. (Make sure the lid is screwed on tightly.)
- Don't forget to pack plenty of diapers and a change of clothes for baby (and even for you if you can fit them into your carry-on!) You just never know when a baby's going to have an extra messy diaper or meal.
- If you are traveling in cold and/or potentially hazardous weather, be sure to pack emergency supplies, food, water, and blankets in the car.
Traveling with Young Children
- Let your child help pack a small backpack of entertaining items. Dig up some of those old toys which haven't been touched for a few months. Rediscovering an old toy can be entertaining.
- Visit your local dollar store. You won't worry about losing toys in the car and you won't go broke entertaining your child. Keep a bag of "$1 Surprises" and allow your child to reach in and select a surprise every few hours.
- Office supplies around the house make great attention getters. Sticky posting notes can become story boards, fluorescent highlighters add fun to coloring, index cards can become personally designed trading cards, and white labels make great "create your own sticker projects" for any ride.
- Preschoolers will enjoy documenting their trip with a disposable camera. It not only keeps them alert to their next photo opportunity but also will serve as a memory keepsake later.
- Prior to your trip, print coloring pages off the Internet. There are several sites with great printable activities and color pages. Among our favorites are kaboose.com, fisherprice.com, and crayola.com.
- Sometimes even the longest car rides can't be solved with an on-board DVD, but a visit to your local DVD rental store might help. Select disks that are seasonal--ones that your child doesn't watch very often. You'll be amazed that even a small child will enjoy It's a Wonderful Life, and it might even catch your attention. Old home movies work well too. Children love to watch themselves.
- Record yourself reading your child's favorite books. You can pop a disk into the car's CD player and your child will enhance her imagination by having to visualize the pictures as she hears the story. And the best part--you won't have to yell to the backseat to tell the story.
- Pack snacks your child would normally not enjoy at home. Make your selections crumb-free such as juice-made gummy bears and dried fruits.