With the rising costs of airfares and the increasing time it takes to get through security at the airports; more and more families are deciding to travel by car for their holidays. Most of us with young children are returning to the days we grew up in, where we traveled most places by car with our parents.
Tips when traveling by car with Children
We started asking other friends for how they make the trip go easier and how they beat the “Are we there yets?”, here’s ten tips to help your car vacation go a lot easier:
- You need to decide if your kids do better in the early morning or evening hours for traveling? Whichever it is, plan your travel to match, our kids didn’t travel well in the morning they did much better if we left after 2:00pm and travel into the evening. So, find what works for your children and go with that whenever possible.
- Stock your car with favourite pre-bagged snacks for everyone, even parents, a cooler with lots of water and favourite drinks. Make sure you have the essentials – coloured pencils, crayons, a few colouring books, sticker books, travel games, and a travel journal for older kids.
- Take along Nintendo 3DS/Switch consoles or other portable games consoles & games, personal music players (even for little kids), and you can even download books from the library.
- Do consider a portable DVD player or media tablet, this makes 5 or 6 hours a day seem like 2 hours. It also cuts a lot of the unnecessary stops as the kids are involved in the movie playing.
- To avoid the difficulty of hauling in a suitcase for every person into a hotel for the 1 night stops. Pack a 3 day bag into which each person contributes 3 days worth of clothes. This way you take one suitcase of clothes in every three days.
- Do pack a lightweight table cloth for outdoor lunch stops along the way.
- Be sure to take the digital camera you’ll create lifetime memories.
- Do get postcards from every major destination along the way.
- All kids are different but in general don’t drive as far as the adults can go in one day, try to keep car travel to a 6 to 8 hour range of time.
- Don’t fill the inside of the car to the brim causing less space for the kids, instead consider a car topper for safe keeping of your belongings – especially if one of the kids has a tendency to car sickness!
Tips before you reach the airport
- Please allow yourself and your family extra time to get through security – especially when traveling with younger children. Allow additional time if you are traveling overseas.
- Call your airline or travel agent for their recommended check-in times for your departure airport.
- Talk to your children before you come to the airport and let them know that it’s against the law to make threats such as, “I have a bomb in my bag.” Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can delay the entire family and could result in fines. You might be laughing now but I have seen this personally, though thankfully not involving my family.
- If you are traveling with an infant, try to book a bulkhead seat so that you can access the infant carrier that attaches to the bulkhead.
Tips at the airport
- Speak to your children again about the screening process so that they will not be frightened or surprised. Remind them not to joke about threats such as bombs or explosives. Please see above!
- Tell your children that their bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) will be put in the X-ray machine and will come out at the other end and be returned to them, they are not losing them forever.
- Let your children know that a Security Officer may ask to see their shoes, but that they will get these back as well.
- You may want to consider asking for a private screening if you are traveling with more than one child.
- If you are traveling with an infant, a collapsible push chair is ideal.
Tips on the plane
- Have some chewing gum or a dummy for an infant. Chewing the gum or sucking on the dummy will help with ears popping during take off and landing. If your child is old enough, explain what air pressure is.
- Ensure that you have toys and games for the kids to play with. The airline will have a small selection, but it is better to bring your own.
- Airplane food isn’t the best (I know right, who would have thought it), so make sure that you have some of your kid’s favourite snacks handy.
Baby formula, breast milk, juice, and other liquids
Medicine, baby food (formula and breast milk) and juice are allowed in small quantities and are not required to be in clear plastic bags. However, you need to declare each of these items for inspection as you go through security, just as you would with any other liquids.
All liquids, including breast milk, formula, and other children drinks will be inspected, however, you may be asked to test or taste these by security staff and airport security may test liquid for explosives. Personally, I would rather they test everything for explosives than not, even if it does mean it takes us a little while to get through security.
Travel rules can change so make sure that you check the local government web site before you fly. If you and your family abide by the rules, your trip will go a lot smoother.