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Traveling with kids is entirely different than traveling without them, and traveling with small kids even more so. You have to keep a little person happy, entertained, and safe, all while navigating busy airports or sitting through a lengthy drive. Add in unexpected expenses and last-minute disasters, and your vacation can easily become overwhelming. Here are a few simple ways to keep things cheap, stress-free, and fun for the whole family.
You may be looking to “disconnect” during your trip, but your small kids probably won’t. Make sure you have plenty of entertainment loaded up for them, both for the travel itself and for long evenings in the hotel. You could just download some shows onto your tablet, or you could take it a step further and buy a streaming device you can connect to your hotel TV. Be sure to pick something both powerful and portable so you can access their favorite shows and movies.
Deals and Discounts
There are plenty of businesses that offer discounts for young children, including restaurants and major attractions. Even if somewhere doesn’t list a child discount on their website, they may give it to you if you just ask. Another thing to look out for is major deals on airfare: several airlines like Scandinavian Airlines and British Airways have kids fly free promotions throughout the year.
Allow Ample Time
You should always leave plenty of buffer time when planning your travel, but you need to leave even more when traveling with small children. This not only minimizes stress, but it also reduces your chances of losing money by missing a flight.
Give yourself at least 3-4 hours, more if you are traveling during peak season from a big international airport. If you can, consider enrolling in the TSA’s PreCheck program, which allows the whole family to speed through the screening line.
Not only are airport and gas station snacks expensive and unhealthy, but the food available at your actual destination may not be to your toddler’s taste. Bring snacks and lots of them. Kids Are A Trip recommends things like dried fruit, seeds, animal crackers, beef jerky, veggie straws, fruit leather, frozen grapes, and dry cereal. Be sure to keep those snacks handy both in the car or on flights – they won’t do you any good if they’re in the baggage compartment, so stash some in your diaper bag or carry-on.
You may have perfected your everyday diaper bag, but your travel diaper bag is a whole different story. Make sure you have extras of all your usual needs, plus a comfy change of clothes for both yourself and the baby. The last thing you want is to be stuck on a plane or car without more diapers, so be generous when packing. There is no magic number, but according to VeryWell Family, you should plan for at least one diaper per hour of travel, plus a couple of extras.
You may also want to invest in a specific bag for travel purposes. Pick something sturdy with lots of pockets, and look out for cool features like insulated compartments and removable straps.
Babies sometimes cry on planes. Everybody knows this, and as a parent, you might as well accept it. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to soothe your baby during a flight. Always bring their favorite snuggie or toy, feed them during takeoff and landing to ease the ear pain, and try to distract them with something new. If none of this works, don’t let the dirty looks from the other passengers get you down! You’ll be landing soon enough.
Above all, relax! Traveling with small kids can be stressful, but if you plan ahead and accept that things will probably go wrong at some point, it gets a lot easier. Focus on having a good time and on making wonderful family memories – that’s the important part!