08 Aug 3 Tips for Traveling with Children
An Occupied Kid is an Happy Kid
Long-distance travel with kids is all about maintaining control. Try to rule with a heavy hand and you’ll end up with a sullen and resistant kid. Play it too loose and you run the risk of the little ones running wild. On a long transcontinental flight, that’s a recipe for hours of misery and cold stares from fellow passengers. Travel to the wine-producing Monferrato region in Italy means a plane ride followed by a lengthy train or car ride, so there’s plenty of time for conflict.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Subtle control is all about keeping the kids occupied and distracted from their discomfort. It’s a challenge on a long journey, but it is doable.
1. Preparing the Way
Think snacks, games, and other creature comforts. Children are less apt to complain if they have what they want right at hand. To that end, your carry on should be well-stocked with favorite video games, handheld gaming device, and some means of keeping it charged (be careful not to overlook this valuable item). Parents often bemoan the hours kids spend with their eyes glued on a gaming screen. Don’t bemoan it this time – indulge their inclination as long as you’re in a confined, uncomfortable space surrounded by strangers who, it’s worth noting, are probably uncomfortable and a little cranky themselves.
Fill up sandwich bags with finger foods, including a mixture of healthy (i.e. grapes, nuts, etc.) and tasty treats (Cheerios, chips, cookies, etc.). Fruit and pudding cups are convenient, self-contained items and can be handy snack items as well. Go easy on the toys: you don’t want to overwhelm what space you have with loose toy cars, doll clothes, Lego pieces, and crayons. Emphasize objects that encourage quiet, solitary activity that keeps kids content and quiet. Spend some time making sure that each child has their own games and toys to minimize the risk of a sibling spat breaking out at 30,000 feet. It’s worth the effort!
Ziploc bags are the great unsung heroes of travel. They’re easy to handle, pack, and to get in and out of. A gallon Ziploc bag is a great way to pack individual kid outfits and to keep a change of clothes handy on the plane in case someone spills grape juice in their lap or, Heaven forbid, someone’s little bladder gives out in transit. At such a time, there’s no substitute for quick and easy access to clean clothing and a means of sealing up soiled and smelly items. Airplanes are famous for being high-speed petri dishes, rife with bacteria and germs that keep getting recycled. Bring along plenty of disinfectant wipes to keep the kids’ toys clean.
3. Show Kids Where They’re Going
While the younger kids while away the hours with their toys and games, older kids may be interested in learning something about your destination. Bring along some reading material about the attractions you intend to visit so they can whet their tourism appetites on sumptuous, full-color photos of tasty Italian foods and the Monferrato’s many castles (kids love castles). Encourage them to hop online and learn more about it on their own initiative. It’s a good way to combine travel and learning, which can foster a healthy curiosity in your child.
You’ll have a much more enjoyable trip if you’re prepared to keep your children happy and busy with their favorite things. Take the time to think through each part of your journey and what you’ll need to have on hand. There may be a few rough spots along the way, but after a while, it’ll become second nature.
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.
Written by Daniel Sherwin | Photography courtesy of Silvano Ghirardo, Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash