Note from Hint Mama: Summer is here, and so is summer travel season. Just in time, Hint Mama Contributor Karen Witham shares her top tips for traveling with kids once the days of worrying about diaper bags and strollers are long gone.
I was so relieved once the diaper bag era was behind us that I stopped bringing almost anything along when we left the house. Then I learned it is always wise to have a change of clothes, shoes and spare jacket for each kid in the trunk. It doesn’t really end with diapers, this “be prepared” business – you never know when things will get wet or dirty or the weather will turn chilly. I try to have a spare sweater or jacket for myself in the trunk, too.
Today’s hint is that day-to-day hint plus these five other tips for traveling with older kids.
H2O on the go. When you’re done with toting bottles or sippy cups, remember to always bring along a water bottle for each person. Many airports, parks and other public spaces are starting to feature water fountains with special spouts designed for filling water bottles. You can go through airport security with an empty, reusable bottle and fill it up at the gate.
Dress for success. Even if potty training is a thing of the past (yay!), if you’re in for a long car or airplane trip, make sure your kids dress comfortably. I suggest layers for sometimes-hot, sometimes-chilly airplanes, and comfy, loose, cotton clothes with elastic waists – we all expand a bit when we’re up in the air. I always pack a pair of warm socks for flights, too.
Top it off. I’m a stickler for hats – knit caps when it’s cold, sun hats when it’s summer – even though my kids are 8 and 9. The sun hats we buy are pretty helpful during a light rain, as well (Note from Hint Mama: I’m a fan of Sunday Afternoons hats too). I bought both my kids bright blue hats, which helps make them highly visible in a crowd.
Pack and prep. Many of my friends are still packing for their older kids – it’s easy to keep doing things for them, even though they’re old enough to do for themselves. Use your next trip – whether a day trip or a big vacation – to start involving them in their own packing if you’re not already doing so. Involve them in the planning, too – talk about where you’re going, get a book or two from the library, show them how you book flights on the computer or use Google Maps, etc.
The little things still count. Even older kids still love to get a treat at the airport or drive-through and are happy when I remember things like gum, snacks and books to read for long trips. Make sure if they have a special snuggle item like a blanket or stuffie that it comes along if they want it to. Check in with them to ensure they’re not feeling afraid of flying on a plane, the darkness of a campground, a crowd of strangers or other new scenario – they may be reticent to share their fears unless you create a space for them to do so.
I’m really enjoying my kids at this age, and they are actually my favorite people to travel with – they are bright and curious and (most of the time) in good spirits and excited to experience new things (even better if they’re free).
Enjoy your kids whatever their age, and if you have any more common-sense tips for traveling with kids, please share them below!