Surviving the Friendly Skies and Other Travel Adventures with Kids (Guest Post)

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a one-way trip to the dark side. If you’re worried about an upcoming family vacation, try some of these ideas to reduce stress and the likelihood you’ll vow never to leave the house again until the kids have left for college.

Flying

Planning to take to the skies for a vacation with your kids? These tips make flying with kids as easy as walking around the block. For starters, book early flights and check in online. Mornings are usually quieter and airports less crowded. Planning a trans- or intercontinental flight? Opt for an overnight flight so everyone can sleep. Most airlines allow online check-ins up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure — do that to avoid standing in long lines.

If you can, book a window and aisle seat and leave the middle seat open. Best-case scenario: you’ll have an extra seat to spread out. Worst case scenario: a third passenger who will, hopefully, be willing to swap so you can sit next to your kid. It’s also wise to arm yourself with snacks to settle rumbly tummies and relieve pressure on take-offs and landings. Give young babies a bottle to drink and older kids a handful of carrots, crackers, granola, or a lollipop.

Driving

Road trips are an entirely different beast with their own unique set of potential problems. Motion sickness, for example, is no fun for anyone. To steer clear of this issue, offer snacks that include ginger or peppermint and avoid greasy, rich, and spicy foods. Also, keep a window open and take frequent breaks from activities that make tummies queasy.

Boredom is also a big deal. Your older kids can choose their own books, games, and other activities to pack. Younger kiddos might need help. Consider books, iPods/tablets, printable travel games, surprise activities or toys, or some of these fun options:

Travel Bingo: Perfect for kids of all ages, travel bingo boards ask players to look for stop signs, mailboxes, trucks, farm animals, and more.
Mad Libs on the Road: Another all-ages game, the trip version puts a real twist on funny car songs, historical sites, and more.
Wikki Stix: This mess-free art project includes bendable sticks of yarn and wax that kids can bend into all 2D and 3D shapes and designs.
Take ‘N’ Play Anywhere Games: Who doesn’t love the classic checkers, hangman, tic-tac-toe and other games — travel-sized!
Puzzle Cube Sets: Challenge kids with 3x3x3 and 2x2x2 cubes and a pyramid puzzle.

Successful road trips include built-in breaks to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs and get the wiggles out. Younger kids especially benefit from stopping every one to three hours during the day. Also, take turns driving and sitting in the back with the baby, and pack an easily accessible tote stocked with all the usual things your baby needs.

If you’ve got a packed car, try using some traveling hacks to make life on the road easier. Use shower caddies for containing snacks and meals. Shoe organizers make great over-the-seat supplies holders, and cereal containers become no-spill trash cans. Suction shower organizers attach to car windows to hold toys or art supplies, while carabiners make the perfect hooks to hang bags and purses. And it might sound crazy, but use cookie trays as backseat desks.

Eating on the Go

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, feeding a clan gets expensive — and potentially unhealthy — pretty quickly, especially if your children go from zero to hungry in t-minus 30 seconds after eating a meal.

To combat that problem when you’re on the road, bring healthy foods you know your people will eat — whether it’s the standard PB&J, cheese sandwich, crackers, veggies, or homemade parmesan pita crisps with hummus, or wrap sandwiches. People often reach for food to relieve boredom. If you’re “trapped” for the long haul try these recipes. Parents Magazine recommends these packable nutrient-rich snacks for your next family vacation.

Bon Voyage!

Whether you’re off on your first adventure or a seasoned traveler, adding kids to the equation always invites the unexpected. You can’t prepare for everything, but with a little planning, entertainment, and snacks, there’s not much you can’t handle.

This is a guest post written by Daniel, who is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

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Surviving the Friendly Skies and Other Travel Adventures with Kids (Guest Post at The Cheerful Wanderer)

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