Preparing Kids for Travel

4 Ways to Keeping Kids Safe and Excited While Traveling

If you’re nervous about traveling with kids in tow, you’re one smart parent.

A typical trip with little ones seems to fall somewhere between “What a wonderful memory” and “I wonder why we just didn’t stay at home”. Veteran travelers will affirm that you have to be ready for all sorts of tears and fears, balanced with smiles and laughs!

Pro-active parents can try to prepare their children for upcoming trips, whether it’s an extended flight or a long cruise, with a few tips from our travel experts. While many factors come in to play from age to personality to interests, there are common ways to redirect, or at least distract their attention.

Sometimes just having the information about what’s ahead, what’s going to be the same and what will be different — and that you’ll be there — can be enough incentive to help them, and ultimately you, enjoy the journey.

Rules Overview

Warn them about changes to personal electronics. If your little person can’t get enough of their technology, it may be a rude shock to discover that the Internet doesn’t work everywhere, and neither does phone service.

On a cruise, for instance, it’s fine to send a few emails now and then, or make a quick Facetime call to check in with home or work. But it may be a costly challenge to regularly text, stream games or videos, check in on social media or other favorite techie kid tasks. And though airlines have relaxed their rules on devices during flights, there are still moments when there’s no connection available.

Flip it around in to a challenge for the whole family – a vacation from electronics for everyone.

Pre-Planning

Make them a surprise fun pack! The minute they say “nothing to do,” produce fun things to read and play with.

Maybe a few new comic books, magazines, playing cards, solo games or little toys.  An empty trip journal could be fun for younger kids to color in, and older kids might want to write down what they’re seeing or doing.

If you’re visiting somewhere they’ve been before, you can ask them to draw/describe memories from their last trip or things they want to see and do this time around. An added treat can be little candies to help with ears during pressure changes.

Older kids might like their own map, guidebook or language tips for the final destination.

Rules of Voyage

Discuss the rules of the voyage and any supplemental family rules prior to departure. Though cruise and airline personnel will give many safety briefings, kids may be so distracted by how cool everything is that their instructions may not register.

If you’re a seasoned traveler, you may tune things out, but that’s because you know those speeches backwards and forwards by now. So you’ll actually be perfect to review general safety procedures while still at home — why we wear our seat belts on planes, why we need life jackets, where to go and what to do in emergencies.

This is also a chance to go over your expectations of behavior in a new environment while things are calm and secure – no seat kicking/bothering strangers, etc.

Practice Security

Airport screenings can be unexpected especially if someone seldom flies, as can pulling around a suitcase for a little one. Play some games in advance to get them ready so you aren’t carrying them and their luggage.

You can make a pretend security station at home  and create a fun game of timing how fast a child can perform tasks like empty their pockets, removing shoes, putting their bag in the right place, and then putting themselves back together! Without being overly frightening or causing anxiety, you can let them know why those procedures are required and why it’s important for everyone to be safe.

Overall, traveling can cause disruptions to one’s daily routine, which could be good, bad or both. But parents can find ways to help their kids focus on the fun parts.