Traveling is fun. It's exciting. It's an adventure. It usually means we're going somewhere new or exciting or different, whether it's a short hop from home or thousands of miles away.
Travel can happen any time, but as a RI family photographer, a lot of my clients take trips in the winter months during school vacations, whether to go to somewhere with warmer weather than the cold Northeast, or to spend some time on the slopes in northern New England or out west.
Bringing children on vacation is wonderful and fun. It can also be a bit stressful, especially if you've never traveled with your kids before, or this is your first big trip with them. Not to worry: I've put together some tips for traveling with your kids, all contributed by parents who have been there, done that. Try to incorporate some of these on your next trip. And if you've got any of your own, add them in the comments!
LET YOUR CHILD KNOW AHEAD OF TIME ABOUT THE TRIP AND HOW YOU'RE GETTING THERE.
Talk to your child about where you're going to. Is it somewhere that he or she has never been before? Look up the location in books and on the internet to learn more about it. If you've been there in the past, talk about the memories you have from your previous trip(s), and look at pictures. Talk about how you're getting there. Will this be your child's first time on a plane or train? Watch some videos about your method of travel to easy any anxiety they may feel.
TRY TO STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE
Being in airports or in a car for long periods of time or a new place can be stressful on kids. Being able to stick to some routines, even something as simple as a specific bedtime story, keeping mealtimes consistent, or trying to keep bedtimes on time, can help prevent meltdowns.
...BUT DON'T BE AFRAID TO VARY THE ROUTINE AND ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES.
It's vacation. It's time to relax and kick back. Plus, with traveling, there's always bound to be SOME kind of snafu. Yes, sticking to a routine can go a long way. But it's ok to have ice cream at 10 p.m. sometimes, or sleep in, or have hot dogs for breakfast when you've been unexpectedly stuck in an airport for twelve hours. Roll with it and your child will, too, and the stress will be less. Ahhhhhhhh,
DISTRACTIONS. DISTRACTIONS. DISTRACTIONS.
Bring distractions for your kids, especially if you're going to be traveling by plane (read: long waits in airports) or will be on long car rides. Think card games, books, magazines, the iPad, movies, games on your phone, an iPod to listen to music. Nobody likes being stuck in cars, planes, trains, or airports but it can be especially hard for littles who are used to running and playing. Anything that can help distract their minds is welcome, both for child and parents.
BRING SOMETHING SPECIAL FROM HOME.
It's easy for anyone to get homesick; this can be especially hard on kids who may not have traveled as much as we adults have. Even if they're in the most magical place on earth, homesickness can kick in and bring anxiety and tears. Try to pack a small item from home that your child is attached to: a blanket, a stuffed animal, a small pillow, even a special photo. That special item can help your child relax, feel like a little piece of home is with them, and focus on having fun...which means you'll have fun, too!