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Tips for Travel with Young Children

Whirl

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So I was asking some questions on another board regarding and upcoming trip and it dawned on me that I bet some people here have collectively some great TIPS they could share on traveling with tots.

I have 3 ( a 4+ year old and 21 month olds twins) and I get a kick out of finding cool gear, products, etc to make travel easier.

One that came up ( from tugger CLSMIT) was packing snack size peanut butter cups. We have used those and just discovered snack size sunflower butter cups if you are need to avoid nuts or just want a change of pace).

We carry a backpack with a cooler at the bottom to keep food cold during travel, if necessary

Horizon stable milks are great..individually packaged and do not require refrigeration.

what about games and activities? What tips can you share?

More later, but that's a start for now...gotta run.

Cheryl
 

ciscogizmo1

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Well... when my kids were about your kids' ages I use to buy these sticks called Wikki Stix. They are awesome and easy to use on planes and it is different than coloring:

http://www.wikkistix.com/
 
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When we flew from NJ to Orlando last summer, my then 3 year old grandson was kept entertained with a new DVD in his portable DVD player.

Holly
 

pjrose

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For car trips, we bought hanging organizers with multiple compartments that went over the seat back in front of each kid. We filled each compartment with juice boxes, snacks, crayons, mcd's toys...you get the idea. The same, or at least equivalent, for both kids. These organizers closed up and zipped into the size of a small briefcase - so easy to carry in to wherever we went and keep the stuff organized.

The first time we used them, the kids were entranced with all the goodies - it bought us at least 30-45 minutes of happy comments. We used these from about age 2 or so till probably close to 10. They were on clearance for about $8, and I count them among the best purchases I've ever made.

Also, I kept a stash of small goodies - again, McD's toys, granola bars - always in pairs - under my seat. When boredom or rowdiness struck, I reached under my seat and tossed a few things back.

I don't think I'd use PB in a car - too messy. Cheerios, though, were indispensable.

I really don't like the DVD idea - I'd like the kid to look out the window and see where we're going and interact with us and each other rather than being so passive. It does buy peace, though.

We used games like 20 questions, try to find a car of every color (boy is pink hard!), license plates from different states...
 

Elan

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I'd recommend one of the roof top boxes. Or Nyquil and duct tape if they must ride inside. ;)

Our kids seem to do fine with DVD's and frequent stops.
 

janapur

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Oh gosh, I could write a book! I'll have to take a moment once the kids are in bed to add to this thread. DVD players are a lifesaver on an airplane. We buy new movies just for the trip, but they never last until triptime so I've learned to hide a few. Be sure to buy an extra battery for longer flights.

We will be doing our first road trip this December (due to the cost of airfare and our youngest turning 2 thus requiring a paid seat). After much thought, we have purchased a used 30' RV for the sole purpose of this drive and our 2 weeks in Florida. I have never driven cross country. I am looking so forward to seeing this wonderful country, but was dreading the car ride with 3 kids. If we just used the RV for this trip and donated it afterward we would still come out ahead financially . . . mentally, now that may be another story.

The little ones LOVE their new house on wheels. The oldest can bring a friend. It's all good so far, and we haven't left the driveway!

I have a friend who removed one of the second row seats in their mini-van and put in a plastic stack of drawers (Rubbermaid style) filled with activity books, snacks, travel games, etc. What were those books that you use a yellow highliter to answer questions and solve puzzles? Those were cool. Mad libs are fun in the car. My kids also like to sing, we try not to do that too much on the airplane ;)

Jana
 

Debbyd57

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Our kids used to listen to Adventures in Odyssey tapes on long trips. We drove 10-12 hour days with them. It was when they were older that it was harder to deal with the squabbling!!!! We also wrapped up some inexpensive toys, books, snacks, etc for them to open every 2-3 hours while driving when they were younger. They would look forward to the next wrapped gift and it kept them busy playing with a new toy, book, etc all day long. Debby
 

Teresa

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Use a 'special mystery treat' at certain miles

This would probably work for the 4 year old. Not sure about the younger kids.

My sister swears by this (my kids were too old when she told me about it).

You pack several 'mystery gifts' for the trip. Each one is opened at certain points in the trip. Use mileage (100 miles, 200 miles, etc.), time (1/4 of the way there based on time), or landmarks (certain cities, first bridge, etc.) - whatever you think you'll encounter.

You can make the mystery gift something that the child has to 'guess' before 'the trigger' or they don't get it until after they do. The gifts can be a favorite snack, something silly (but enjoyable to the child), something they will use on their trip or a keepsake. My sister has used pens (with purple or orange ink), small busy books (those things that have connect the dots and other things) - even new underwear that the kid would love (with cartoon characters). It will be as much fun for you preparing them as your 4 year old will anticipate and enjoy opening them.

The anticipation is part of the fun! You can also draw a simple map that will show when the gifts will be bestowed and your child can follow the map to track where you are.

Enjoy your trip!
 

labguides

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Horizon Milk.. I will have to tell our daughter about that. They travel a lot with a child. They started traveling when he was about 6 months old.. flying across country (Vegas-PA) several times. When he was 10 months old, they bought RV and spent 3 months on the road. He has spent almost as much time away from home as he has at home (he is 23 months). Until recently, they always carried a Pack n Play, so he could sleep in something familiar.
 

applegirl

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Especially for the little ones, since they will be able to do less for themselves in the car seats than the 4 year old, try collecting interesting things from around the house that they don't usually play with. Take this goody bag with you in the car or on the plane, and give them something different to play with every so often. Buy a couple of things of dental floss and when they are really getting board, let them go at it pulling and pulling out the floss. Tiny mess, not much money, worth it, especially if it's a desperate situation on a plane. Also, you could give them a stack of post it notes and let them take one by one off.

I don't think anyone can deny the value these days of portable DVD players.

Boy, don't my parents wish those were around when I was a kid! You can only count volkswagons passing you on the freeway so many times! Or my brother and I use to play the pinching game. Yeah, I know, not nice, but we are siblings after all.

Janna
 

Twinkstarr

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My 7 yr old has to have his pad and markers. He'll draw on the plane and while we are on vacation. He has his "special" set of travel markers(I keep them in the carry-on, crayola twist top, so I don't have to crawl under seats to look for lids).
 

swift

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Along the idea of presents every few miles inlist the help of friends and family that frequent fastfood places. Collect all the little toys they get with their kids meal and give them to them every few miles.

Books on tape with a coloring book while they are listening to the book.

Print out stuff from http://www.crayola.com/

For a car trip they use the laptop and play computer games (preferably educational ) and watch movies. They started using my computer, with my help, at age 5. I purchased a car charger just for this purpose.

Puzzles

Colorforms
 

Mel

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For the Tots and the not-so-tots (mine are 13, 10 and 6):

an MP3 player loaded with appropriate favorite music for each child. That way only Mom and Dad are involved in the argument over which radio station to tune to.

This is particularly useful for longer trips, where your favorite radio stations will only be in range for a small portion of the trip. I even got a cheap one for myself, with an FM tuner, so when DH is driving he can have the radio all to himself (though we can usually find something we both like).

We used to have CD players for all 3, but you don't have to change CDs with them, and can load some of the same songs on all players, and not listen to arguments about who wants which CD right now (they want the same CD but never the same song, so a splitter to share a CD player still won't work.
 

Jeni

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I have a 3.5 year old and he's traveled just about everywhere with us since the age of 3 months...I'll try to post some more later, but for now, our lifesaver when caught without toys/entertainment is "I Spy"

"I spy with my little eye something....(insert color or shape)"

The child guesses items of that color or shape around you until he/she guesses the right one, then the child takes a turn. Perfect in a restaurant.

With all of the high tech stuff we have, this has enthralled Connor since he was about 2 1/2. I'll try to post more later tonight or tomorrow.

Jeni
 

Whirl

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These are great tips and ideas....cant wait to try some....I am jsut starting to pack for our ( plane) trip....so keep them coming!

Cheryl
 

pjrose

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These are great tips and ideas....cant wait to try some....I am jsut starting to pack for our ( plane) trip....so keep them coming!

Cheryl

The hanging organizer I suggested would work great on a plane too.

I can't find quite the same one - but google "seat back organizer" and "seatback organizer", and also check these:

http://www.lillianvernon.com/catalog/product_display.jsp?searchParam=LV&pdId=5709&addOn=885&sid=eas

http://disneyshopping.go.com/webapp...egoryId=44501&CMP=KNC-DSSGoogle&HBX_PK=62961P

Ours also zipped into an easy to carry little case, which was a big plus - and each child gets to carry his own little suitcase.
 

Whirl

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OKay, so we had a very successful trip. Unfortunately, due to work (financial markets related) I could not fly down with my family and joined them on the weekend.

Nonetheless, many of the tips were great.

I used a cheap variation on the theme of hanging organizers for each child. My 4 year old "must" pull her own carryon at her insistance ( we watch a travel video called "shae by air: a good little traveler" and Shae pulls her own little travel bag). So, we entrusted her with the task of carrying the goody bags for all three children. I put together ziploc bags ( 3 of everything, as age appropriate) with activities:

brightly colored stickies/post it notes
post it note type alphabet letters and a glue stick
assorted stickers
twist top markers
crayola color wonder no-mess markers and coloring pages
printed a "personalized" princess story from the disney website. (4 year old really loved reading about herself as princess and her adventures with her "best friend", favorite foods, yuckiest foods, funniest stories, etc)
small books

We introduced them at varying intervals, as needed.

Packed LOTS of reasonably healthy easy to travel snacks :
Fruitabu smooshed fruit twirls...basically an organic, all fruit, healthier version of a fruit roll-up ( which has next to no fruit, if any)...pumpkin seeds, snack bars, the requisite all time favorite -- goldfish, gummy bears for my gummy- anything-crazed-crew, stable individual serving milks for nap time ( just pour in the bottle/cup and serve or drink from the straw like a juice box and serve. we saved a few for the flight home as well). Cheese sticks and crackers. Lots of variety. Something for everyone.

Everyone did great.

My other tip, but a difficult one to make universal due to different kids' personalities, is time of travel and routing. I find for my set, EARLY morning flights are the best. We get everything ready the night before and wake them up (5 am this time) and take the small ones to the airport in pajamas.

Once we get checked in and through security we freshen them up and change clothes.

Obviously, I always suggest direct flights when routing and finances permit, but if not, NEVER a tight connection. A tight connection may sound like a good idea to shorten the trip, but with diaper changes and all the unexpected matters that can occur, a liesurely layover is your friend for sanity reasons. I suggest about 2 hours. Of course you dont want to get carried away with too long a layover.

Lastly, consider nap schedules as appropriate for your child's needs. The bottom line is: heed the child(ren) and do everything possible to not interrupt their natural biorythms.

Try to travel when they are most pleasant, or if they will sleep on the plane, then try to schedule accordingly.

I also bring disposable changing pads for those occasionally unavoidable diaper changes in very small and disgusting airplane or airport bathrooms. Spread it out and throw it out when you are done.

Resident germaphobe here, so of course, I travel with a easily accessible stash of individually wrapped Purell (or other) sanitizing wipes. Keep some in every bag and in my pockets. Great for wiping down eating surfaces in a pinch, too.

OK. Just thought I would share my recent experience and thank you all from some of your great ideas.

Others have been noted for future road trips as well!


Happy travels,
Cheryl
 
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applegirl

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The bottom line is: heed the child(ren) and do everything possible to not interrupt their natural biorythms.
Cheryl


This certainly does make travel easier, when the parents are thoughtful of the kids needs. Good for you. I am sometimes stunned at a lack of this when families travel.

Thanks for letting us know how your trip was and some additonal tips in your post! Parents can never have enough good travel tips with little ones.

Janna
 

pjrose

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I'd recommend one of the roof top boxes. Or Nyquil and duct tape if they must ride inside. ;)

:hysterical: :hysterical:

DH and I often imagined pushing a button to bring up a partition between the front and back seats - like in a taxi or limo. It was a semi-helpful reminder to us to block out the squabbles and stay calm.

Whirl - thanks so much for posting your update, and especially for all the details! One thing to add for germophobes - I carry a mini-spray can of Lysol in my purse, and used it liberally on the airplane toilet seats. (For airport security it had to be in the 1 qt zip bag.)
 
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pjrose

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Think I could get away with this on the school bus?!?!?! :rolleyes: ;)

I like kids, but I don't think they could pay me enough to drive a school bus. You and all the drivers have my thanks for providing a valuable service in difficult conditions!
 

jlr10

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I'd recommend one of the roof top boxes. Or Nyquil and duct tape if they must ride inside. ;)

Or if they are small enough, and irritating enough, they fit perfectly in the overhead compartments on airplanes. ;)

One thing we found that helped with our son when he was older than a toddler but not a teen, was the ear plugs for airplanes (earplanes?) He had a hard time with the cabin pressure and they seemed to help him quite a bit. If his ears hurt he became restless and would whine loudly. To keep him entertained I always had a new game for his gameboy or the newest gamer magazine. That made him a quiet and happy camper.
 

mepiccolo

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Both my sons (4 and 5) got Leapsters for Christmas last year and they are fantastic toys for a long airplane trip. It works alone and there are several cartridges you can buy (approx $20-$28 each). The wonderful thing is most of the cartridges are educational and age-specific. The kids are having a blast, and don't even realize they're learning. You can put earphones on them so you wouldn't even interrupt a person sitting next to you in an airplane. These hand-held toys are small (about the size of a hand-held CD player) and will grow along with them because you just get harder cartridges. We also can't imagine traveling without our CD player.
 
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