Spring break is upon us, which means many Canadian families will be leaving for destinations around the globe. As any seasoned traveller can attest to, travelling with little ones (baby, toddler or school-aged) is easier said than done. Toting massive amounts of luggage and equipment, dealing with schedule and time changes, and keeping kids constantly changed, clean, fed, and entertained are just some of the challenges parents with small children face when traveling.
If you’re one of the brave souls willing to tackle these hurdles for a family vacation, here are a few tips to make your travel time go smoother (so your lasting memories are of your destination—not the disasters along the way!):
1) Travel when your kids are feeling their best
Some say to travel during the time your child would normally sleep (i.e., naptime or overnight). This can backfire if a child is overstimulated or very excited about the prospect of traveling, and lead to an overtired—and overly cranky—kid. A safer bet is to fly when your child is well rested and in a generally good mood, such as in the early morning hours.
2) Bring a mix of old and new toys
Bring along a few favorites and a few new, surprise toys for your child. For long drives and flights, choose toys that offer longevity: Crayons and colouring books, Legos, books, stickers and decals.
3) Use electronics as a last resort
Normally, you’ll want to monitor the amount of screen time your child gets. These rules go out the window during travel, however! Keep iPads and smartphones handy and loaded with movies, etc., as a source of entertainment/distraction if your child seems disinterested in his or her toys.
4) Stock up on wet wipes
Airports and travel stops can be full of germs, and you don’t always have the luxury of visiting the restroom to wash hands. Bring along copious amounts of diaper or disinfecting wipes to hose down little hands periodically along your trip.
5) Pack extra changes of clothes
Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, have a spare backup outfit or two handy at all times. Children are often prone to car or plane motion sickness, and bathroom accidents are bound to happen.
6) Provide plenty of snacks
Not only can snacks keep a child occupied and distracted, but the jaw motion can help little ears pop on takeoff and landing. Most airports allow travelers to carry on feeding supplies (such as formula and snacks).
7) Dress for comfort
Forget fashion—dress your kids in their comfiest clothes on travel days! For overnight or early morning travel, that may mean keeping them in PJs and slippers. You don’t want your kids to feel restricted or uncomfortable on long drives or flights.
Good luck! If you’re staying local this year for spring break, check out some of Gogabo’s interactive activities for kids.