Traveling With Kids: A Survival Guide
Planning keeps kids calm and comfortable -- and preserves parents' sanity.
Air Travel Tips
A car seat/stroller combo certainly makes travel easier -- and
it's worth the investment, if you don't have one. You'll be
well prepared when you reach your travel destination.
Plan to stow the stroller on board at the gate, and take the
car seat aboard.
Get a child-sized rolling suitcase for kids
over 5; kids love to help carry.
Check whether the airline allows a bassinet
on board and if special child's meals are provided.
While waiting for your flight, don't try to
confine kids to a chair unless it's very crowded. Go from window to window
watching the planes. Or supervise them in the play area at the
Take kids to the bathroom before
If the baby starts screaming, she may be
clearing her ears from the altitude. This is a good time to nurse or
bottle-feed your infant.
Road Trip Tips
Before you head out, let kids run around a
while -- to burn off energy. During the trip, don't bypass fast-food
playgrounds or parks. Travel with kids is especially enjoyable during nap time,
when parents can enjoy peace and quiet.
Pack the kids' stuff on top in the trunk so
it's easily accessible en route. Store toys in a slip cover with a pocket that
hangs over the front seat.
Keep toddlers in a car seat (booster types
are advised for post-toddlers), along with comfy pillows and soft
Let older kids map the route with a small
road atlas. "OK, kids, we're in South Bend, what comes
Bring a mixing bowl in case of car
sickness. Tuck in a roll of paper towels and even a portable potty for the
Start a new road game when tempers
Make the Trip Fun
Let kids look up the destination city on
the Internet and plan some outings and must-sees, says Carol Weston, author of
For Teens Only and the travel-related teen book, Melanie Martin Goes
Dutch. "Kids like some independence. But have rules about the
Buy a deck of cards. "These can be
whipped out anywhere!" Weston says.
Pack their favorite toys and blankets, says
Cass. Bring lots of underwear and swim suits. "The jeans and heavy things,
you might have to economize."
Hit the library. "We love books on tape
in the car," Weston says. She recommends the audiotape of Of Mice and
Men. Her girls, 12 and 13, also loved D'Aulaires'Book of Greek
Music CDs are a must for headphones or
in-car entertainment. "It's your kids' vacation, too, so be fair,"
Weston says. "A little opera, a little rap. Bring both."
Pass out travel diaries at the beginning of
the trip, Weston advises. "Cute little individual notebooks. Kids may keep
it going even if they don't write in a diary at home." She also stocks up
on postcards at rest stops and deals them out to the kids while waiting for
food to arrive. "Here, write to Grandma."
Another lifesaver: When you travel with
kids, have a secret grab bag. Each kid gets a little wrapped surprise --
markers, matchbox cars, puzzle books, stickers, activity books, mazes,
threading cards (yarn), magnets, Go-Fish cards, silly putty, trading cards, and
the like. This is for emergencies only. You also can designate gifts --
"Open only when we get to St. Louis."