Here are some of the best tips we have gathered for traveling with small children.
#1. Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail
This does not mean that you need to have a rigid outline that accounts for every minute of every day of your trip. That would kill the adventure and the joy of travel. However, you do need to know yourself and know your kids well enough to head off some disasters ahead of time. For example, if you know your kids will have a melt down if they don’t get a snack and a rest in the mid-afternoon, it is probably best not to plan a hike or a museum tour at the time. You are pretty much just asking for your darlings to turn into demons and then no one is having fun.
#2. Despite Your Plans, Stuff Will Happen
Even if you follow #1 in great detail and are prepared for various contingencies, the only thing that is guaranteed is that something you didn’t plan for will happen. Knowing this in advance helps you to better roll with the punches. Although this is true of travel without the kids, you can assume at least a 10-fold increase in the chances of unpredictable events occurring when you are on the move with little ones. There will be days when you just won’t get do what you wanted to do and it is best to just be OK with that. It is all part of the journey. If you feed your toddler raisins and she poops them out while you are enjoying a view of the Alps in a German thermal pool (true story), it is no use getting upset. Just work through the problem and laugh about it.
#3. Distractions are Good
As a general rule, we try not to let our kids spend significant amounts of time glued in front of a screen. There is so much more to life than that! However, there are times in life when a little screen time maintains everyone’s composure and sanity. We have found that having a tablet on hand (in our case a Kindle Fire with Kindle FreeTime) keeps the troops happy through flights and boring parts of road trips. It makes a huge difference to be able to complete the transit times and waiting times more peacefully and we all end up happier as a result.
Beyond that, it is also important to bring other activities to distract. With you kids, we have found that small toys and coloring books are also very effective.