As summer winds down, many families are still trying to squeeze in a family vacation. Whether you’re a new parent experiencing a toddler for the first time or are a seasoned (possibly harried) traveler with kids, we hope the following tips will make your travels a little smoother.

Planes with Toddlers and Older Children

  • When possible, try to travel off peak times with an airline that lets you book your seat and a direct flight.
  • Anticipate time changes. Try to gradually adjust your child’s napping and eating schedule leading up to a trip. This will help everyone get used to the time difference.
  • Help manage your child’s expectations in advance. Explain what security will be like and the rules of behavior on planes (indoor voices, no kicking, etc.).
  • Pre-board the plane, but not the kids. Many airlines allow families with young children to board the plane in advance. If possible, let your spouse board and reserve your seats and stow your luggage while you let the kid(s) stretch their legs for a little longer.
  • While pacifiers and bottles work great for alleviating ear pressure in infants, jolly ranchers or suckers can be a good option for toddlers and older children.
  • Bring a new toy, game or book on the flight. The novelty of something new could help the time pass, at least for a while…
  • Flights can be dehydrating, so bring an empty sippy cup to fill with water once you’re inside security.
  • Pack extra snacks. That little package or peanuts or pretzels probably won’t be enough for your little eater.
  • Take a lap up and down the plane once an hour on flights, especially international flights. This could be enough to temporarily get the wiggles out of your little one.

Hitting the Open Road 

  • Prep the car and do a safety check in advance. There’s nothing worse than having a flat with a little one in tow.
  • Build in extra time for pit stops. Kids need stretch breaks every couple hours or hundred miles. Try to limit travel to six hours a day. And if you can, coordinate travel to coincide with normal sleep and nap schedules.
  • Get in the backseat to help entertain. Often the extra eye contact and attention is enough to keep your child happy during a road trip.
  • Over-pack snacks and under-pack toys. Kids like routines and familiar foods.
  • Don’t forget sun protection. Kids still need shade or sunscreen to protect them from rays coming through a car’s window.

Arriving at Your Destination

  • Call your hotel in advance to see if you can borrow or rent a pack ‘n play. Many vacation destinations also have rental companies that provide baby items. And of course, lean on friends and relatives for resources when you can.
  • Ask your hotel if they offer child-proofing kits or daycare.

Just for Fun

For general adoption travel tips, read our post Traveling for Adoption!