Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chime In: Traveling with Kids

We have done our fair share of traveling with little ones in tow since, well, pretty much since we became parents. It is not without its challenges; however, we are very blessed to have two very good travelers. They have their moments, but then again, we all do. After sitting in a car or a cramped airline seat for hours on end, even grown-ups can get cranky!

I confess that before our survey trip last summer, I purchased a bottle of Children's Benadryl with the intention of using it as a sedative (if necessary) on the long international flights. Luckily, I never had to use it as most of our flights were overnight, and Alex slept pretty much the whole way. But I have flown enough in my lifetime to know that there are few things more horrible than being stuck on a plane for hours on end with a screaming kid, whether you are the parent, or just a fellow passenger. So I had it in my arsenal, just in case.

Road trips are a little different, since you can set your own schedule and stop and get out of the car when you need to. A real lifesaver on our Partnership Tour has been a cheap portable DVD player we purchased on Craigslist before we left Michigan that allows Alex to watch videos in the car. And, although Rusty and I typically avoid MacDonald's like the plague, the PlayPlaces are a great way for Alex to burn some energy after we've been in the car for several hours. When we have a long day in the car, we will usually let Alex play while we eat our food, and then he eats his Happy Meal in the car after we leave. It maximizes the time we spend there and means we don't have to fight with him about eating when he would rather be playing.

With Stephen along, we have to stop every 3-4 hours so I can nurse him. Rusty will usually gas-up (even if we still have a fairly full tank) and take Alex to the potty (even if he says he doesn't have to go) just to minimize the amount of stopping we have to do. Sometimes, he will go on the hunt for a city park where Alex can play while I'm nursing Stephen. Or, he'll pull over at a rest area where he and Alex can throw frisbees for a few minutes.

So, fellow parents -- what are some of your tips and tricks for traveling with small children? What works and what doesn't when you're on the road or in the air?


  1. Wow, you guys sound like you've got some great strategies already. Road trips are kind of a big deal for us too. Since we live in Juneau and the farthest we ever drive in town is 30 minutes. So when we're in Oregon, the drives to see GreatGrandma's can be a little tricky. Especially since Carly gets a little carsick.
    I'll have to think some more about what we do when we're driving. But you guys seems to already have some great ideas.

  2. I borrow fun lift the flap books from friends or the library, and also interesting activity toys from friends or buy a couple "new" cheap toys from Good Will or Walmart and make an activity bag. Every hour or couple of hours or when she's getting ansy I get out something from the special bag. As it's "new" to her it keeps her attention for awhile. Also, getting to pick something out of the special travel bag is an exciting thing to look forward too!

    I really appreciated the idea of letting your child play while you eat and then having them eat in the car afterward--brilliant!