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Travel can be challenging in the best of circumstances, but
adding children into the mix often takes the experience up to code red stress levels.
Here are 9 tips from moms to avoid in-flight tantrums, on-the-road boredom and
more on your travels:
1. Have the right
Before you even leave the house, adjust your attitude:
"You are now a parent traveling with a child (or children)
and that means more stops, endless questions and talk. You are no longer in a
kid-free zone. So, you set your mind to understand that what might be a three-hour
drive when you were single is now a five-hour drive and there will be 'kidzone' and not much silence, as with my family, we play word games
and guessing games and we entertain ourselves."
"When traveling from west to east for one week or less we stick with
our home time zone whenever possible. It enables us to stay up late with
friends and family and then just sleep it off in the morning. When we return
home, it's a snap to transition back to normal bedtime."
—Karen Gaudette, mother
of a 3-year-old boy
4. Tape it up
knew that a little tape could go so far? No, not on your child—tempted as you
may be—to play with:
"My other standby for flying is a roll of masking tape or
painters tape. Use it to play counting games, to create a giant sticky beach
ball, to build a spider web. Use it to decorate your row with sheets of your
kid's crayon art or fun photos you rip from magazines. When it's time to
deplane, it's a snap to wad up and dispose."
"Younger kids take great delight in taping anything and
everything (the seats, the windows, the chair, themselves), and then later peeling
it off. Older kids still enjoy taping things, but can use it in more advanced
ways: DIY stickers, weaving the tape, creating fake nails/claws/teeth, tape on
the face to create funny faces, making little books, etc."
—Shannon Brugh, mother
of two sons, 4 and 6
5. Little gifts
The thrill of opening something new is often enough.
agree—the thrill of opening something new is often enough to keep small
children engaged and you don't have to spend a lot. Dollar store, Goodwill and
Target's dollar section were all great places to purchase things:
"When my son was small I'd wrap several tiny presents—those
little Dover sticker books, cars games and I'd give them to him one at a time."
—Alice Peck, mother of
one 16-year-old boy
"Spend the extra $30+ for a carry-on full of new items your
child will love. If the flight is longer than their interest in the bag of
fun ... Benadryl, it's what's for dinner."
—Tara Bevington, mother of one 11-year-old girl
"Stock up on inexpensive novelty toys at
Target or a dollar store, preferably without small pieces that can be dropped
or lost. Accept any toys/fun packs from the airline. My son won't read regular
books on the plane, but can stare at catalogs of his latest obsession for hours
—Grace Loh Prasad, mother of one 7-year-old
6. Don't scrooge on screens
Many moms recommend letting go of restrictions on screen times for
long flights or train trips.
"Let them gorge on screens if it's a long international
flight. My son played video games for 9 hours straight on the way to France once. It was odd, but there was no fallout and I enjoyed two feature films, a glass of Pinot Gris and worked a bit."
—Kim Green, mother of an 11-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy
Avoiding the 'Are we there yet?' is my biggest goal.
Many moms still fall back on old-fashioned, interactive games, particularly
when multiple children are involved, and if traveling in the privacy of one's
"I tell them to find me, for example, a red car, an animal,
something pink, etc. And we play the ABC game. We find things that
start with A and go through Z. It can be on a billboard, road sign, on a
car. We also have a game called 20 questions where we take turns thinking of
something, drop a hint, and they have a combined total of 20 questions to ask
to figure it out. It makes for a much more fun trip and helps pass the time."
— Patty Gutierrez,
mother of three boys, 17, 11, 9
"Avoiding the 'Are we there yet?' is
my biggest goal. I conditioned my boys to know how many miles we were traveling
total and they could ask me for something from the goodie bag every 20 miles. After
age 10, we taught boys to play cribbage and poker for air flights. Whatever
points they acquired in play was added to spending money."
—Michelle Meeker, mother of two
boys, 17 and 20
8. Stay connected
Avoid the loss of precious toys on flights with a simple solution:
"If traveling by plane with a toddler, bring a piece of
ribbon. Tie one end to your wrist, or his/hers, and the other to the toy of interest,
lest you spend half the flight retrieving it from the floor, from beneath your
seat, or worse, beneath the seat of your behind-you-neighbor."