Traveling with Young Children: Travel Without Tears

Traveling with young children can be a total disaster or an opportunity to bond deeper.  Rarely is it ever somewhere in between.  Turning your car or plane travel into a wonderful experience you will enjoy remembering can be done with a little  pre-planning.

Children are normally easy to please as long as they are not hungry, tired, bored or ill.  Illness will normally eliminate any travelling plans, so let’s talk about things you can do that can prevent the first three situations.

Plane Travel

Plane travel adds more restriction to what is available to you in the way of entertaining the kids.  The positive point is that often the trips are of shorter duration than that of car trips.  This means less planning is necessary.

*Try to have kids take a nap before you start on your trip.  That means they will likely spend a great deal of time on the plane awake, but they won’t be cranky from trying to stay awake to see everything.

*Pack plenty of kid-friendly snacks such as raisins, baby carrots, celery with peanut butter, cheese cubes and others.  Packing these in small, divided containers will eliminate the kids arguing over not liking something.  With the variety, they can pick and choose and you will know they are eating healthy.

*For entertainment, load a tablet with age-appropriate games.  Make sure there is a way to avoid bothering other passengers with the game noises.  Small books for coloring and blank paper for drawing are always great choices.  A portable DVD player with favorite videos can work wonders.

Car Travel

Car travel creates more time for disruption but offers more choices for entertainment.  Plan any possible rest stops in advance.  Kids are likely to need to stretch their legs or use the restroom every two hours.  If you can plan to stop every hour and a half, you can avoid the cries of “I gotta go!” and the fidgeting that goes along with restricted movement.

*You may want to skip nap time in this case.  The feel of a car in motion makes many kids tired and they will nap at least part of the trip.  Make sure they have access to any comfort items to help in this case.  A travel pillow and light blanket for each child will keep them comfortable.

*Hunger pangs will respond to the same snack solution mentioned earlier.  The key is offering a variety of choices of healthy, non-crumb-making finger foods.

*To avoid boredom, the previously mentioned strategies will help.  In addition, bring along CDs of kid songs and have a singing marathon.  For kids who can read or at least recognize the alphabet, you can play car games like License Plate Bingo.  For younger ones, you can play a modified version of I-Spy using colors, landmarks, businesses, etc.  At rest stops, give the kids at least ten minutes to play something physical like tag or Mother May I.  This will help release the pent up energy of having to sit still for so long.

Vacationing with kids can create memories your kids will bring up years from now.  By taking into account the naturally high-energy of children and how restrictive sitting still for a long ride or flight will seem, will help you keep those memories positive.  Let the kids know what you expect in the way of behavior before you start.  Providing something special at the end of a positive trip, especially if it is a surprise, will help make future trips go smoother for everyone.


Thomas Learning Centers provides NECPA accredited preschool and childcare at the most affordable rates in the Denver Metro Area.  Check us out at , click on the offers below, drop in for a visit to get to know more about us. We’d love to meet you!

Call  877-938-1442 for general info

Lakewood 303-237-0917 or Westminster 303-427-8831


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