Traveling with kids is a challenge. I have taken two airplane trips this year with kids with multiple stops, layovers and even a broken airplane that gave us a extra 5 hours in the airport on one leg of our flight. I have figured out a couple tricks about travelling with these little guys over the years and I thought I would share some “things” today that make it helpful.
Travelling with Toddlers/preschoolers.
Here are a few things that are helpful when travelling with a 2-5 year old. Traveling with these guys is basically survival mode. Keep them happy, calm and quiet by any means necessary. Since their attention span is short, you basically have to move from one activity to the next quickly.
Crayons and Coloring Books- I take a crayon roll with a few crayons (not too many, maybe 3 or 4 colors) and a couple coloring books. This will entertain them for a bit, it will entertain him longer if I color on his page with him, so I make sure I grab a crayon and help him.
Books- I like to pack a few books so that when they are bored with one I pull out another option. Don’t bust them all out at once! I also prefer to take along board books. They will hold up to be tossed on the floor and being shoved into your carry on.
Snacks- Again, it is all about having multiple options. I take granola bars, packages of goldfish, fruit snacks and packages of crackers. I pull them out one at a time and offer them up. This way they don’t get to throw a fit about the one you didn’t give them because they don’t know it is there. “Hey buddy, would you like a yummy granola bar?” This is such an easy way to not only head of hunger but also boredom. I also try to make the items something I know they like but maybe something that we don’t have available all the time. Like these Envirokidz granola bars. I buy them sometimes, but they are not always in the pantry. So, I know they will think it is something special for the trip.
Most importantly with these guys you must head off boredom before it hits. I just wait to see them start getting figetty and offer another activity option. When all else fails a walk to the restroom or down the aisle helps.
Distraction works too. Point out all the items on the plane. The lights, the chair back tables, the people, the clouds out the window. Help them be interested in what is around them rather than fussing about having to sit. Help them forget that they are sitting. When they do take the time to get interested toddlers will soak it all in. Lucas loved learning how to open the window, and how to work the tray table. When my 3 year old did resort to fussing on the plane I was not above pointing out to him that we were surrounded by many other people and that they would not be happy if he was yelling on the flight. I think it is good for them to realize that thier actions impact those around them. This seemed to quiet Lucas down quickly.
Now, let’s talk about those older fellows. They are so much easier in some ways. You can explain to them that they have to get through the long hours on the plane in order to get to whatever fun destination they are headed to. However, they are more vocal about thier needs and not as easily distracted. ( Mom, I am soooooo bored) They need more to make them happy and they exaggerate. The best plan of action with them is to keep thier brains active.
Travelling with a 5-10 year old
My son played his Nintendo DS while we are on above mentioned extended layover in in DIA while they fixed our plane. It was nice. You can only go in so many overpriced gift shops before you are all bored.
Snacks- These guys will tell you when they are hungry, and travelling will make you hungry.
Headphones- The headphones on the plane have been used by hundreds of people. I was so thankful I had packed my sons headphones for the trip. He seemed quite happy to listen to the music on the planes channels (even though he had his ipod). He also watched the inflight movie which was The Vow, and seemed to be happy to watch it. I think the novelty of watching on the plane made it interesting.
Ipod- Although he enjoyed the music on the plane, in the airport he wanted his own music.
Travel Games- Ezra and I played these for quite a bit on the plane.
Notebooks and pencils- I gave Ezra the task of writing about our day and what we were experiencing while travelling. You could also have them write letters to grandparents or teachers.
Most of all remember you only have to get through a few hours and then you can enjoy your vacation, or be home in your bed, depending on whether you are coming or going. Just do what you need to do to keep them happy and explain as much as you can to them so they can make good decisions.
Here are a few resources to help with more ideas on activities for roadtrips and vacations with kids.
I hope everyone is having great vacations this summer!
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